We cast a broad and stylish net across the Instagram universe this week, and we were fortunate enough to snag 25-year-old Boxborough resident and digital activist Lauren Pespisa
com/splendidspoon ). A Web developer for a small start-up in Kendall Square, Pespisa recently decided to amp up her wardrobe with a splash of floral prints, mixed with black leather boots and plenty of metal accessories. This led one friend to dub Pespisa the “industrial Lolita.” Curiosity sufficiently piqued? It’s time for the questions.
Q. Since your company doesn’t have a dress code, do you see a lot of bad fashion? I don’t want to stereotype, but you do work with engineers after all.
A. I don’t see the worst fashion at my office; people mostly wear graphic T-shirts and jeans. There’s also a lot of plaid and flannel button-downs in the winter. One pet peeve I see is that a lot of engineers (mostly men) wear those sneakers with the toes, the Vibram FiveFingers . They are supposed to be good for you, but they are the geekiest thing I’ve ever seen. No amount of miraculous benefits could bring me to wear those shoes.
Q. Because I’m a cat-loving style writer with limited access to the outside world, I don’t know what a digital activist does. Can you explain?
A. As a digital activist I spend a lot of time working to keep the Internet free and open and finding ways to use the Internet to make a difference in the world. I’m a member of the Massachusetts Pirate Party, a third political party that focuses on issues such as individual privacy, government transparency, and copyright and patent law reform. One way this relates to fashion is that the fashion industry is not protected by copyright, which is why great design trickles down from the runway to the masses. This is mostly seen as healthy. Copyright would only stifle innovation and hurt sales. I would fight any efforts to introduce copyright to fashion by using the Internet to mobilize people to call their representatives and spread the word.
Q. At what point did you realize that you needed to make an effort to diversify your wardrobe? Did you have one particular fashion-challenged day that served as wake-up call, or perhaps a bad jeggings addiction?
A. The moment I realized I needed to make a change in my style was when I developed a short-lived crush on a new hire. I had been wearing jeans and a T-shirt every day, all summer, and came into work in a new sundress and cute wedge sandals one day. It backfired because all my co-workers kept making comments like “Why are you dressed so nice today?” I’d have to elbow them in the ribs and say “I always dress like this, stupid” if the crush was around. Embarrassing, but it kick-started my sense of style. It paid off, even if my crush faded pretty quickly into friendship.
Q. It sounds like you’re the Dr. Jekyll/Ms. Hyde of fashion. Does that also apply to your personality? Girly and tough at the same time?
A. I have always lived a strange double life. I went from almost becoming a ballerina to learning to code and becoming a Web developer. I used to dress really punk rock and hang out with the wrong crowd in high school. At the same time I was a cheerleader. I think I’ve always been a walking contradiction. I’m happy with that. My style and personality has lots of layers, and I think that’s why people find it interesting.
Q. Your hair is a tad vampish, like a 1940s femme fatale. How long does it take you to do, and what’s your routine?
A. My hair is naturally thick and full, so luckily I don’t have to do too much to it. I use a heavy cream conditioning treatment once a week to keep it soft. I use anti-frizz serum when I get out of the shower, and either volumizing mousse or beach spray depending on the season. I always air-dry, rarely use any hot tools on my hair, which makes it very healthy. I usually wear it long, and lately I’ve been wearing sparkly barrettes from Claire’s , because they are so cheap and fun.