Kalainey Nickel finds confidence through style


Nickel’s outfit on Monday containing doll earrings, pearl necklace, gold hoops, beige sweatshirt, plaid skirt, and white shoes.

Nicole Tinius, Editor-in-Chief

The typical teenage growing up coming-of-age story is based around a reinvention of oneself, but for Lincoln Southeast (LSE) sophomore Kalainey Nickel, her new and reinvented style fostered a newfound growth in confidence. 

Nickel’s fashionable journey started during her adjustment from middle school to high school. Her COVID-19 version of freshman year gave way for ample time and opportunity to explore a new colorful style that’s just as vibrant as her personality. 

“During quarantine I started really looking for the different pieces,” she said. 

It was the abundance of time and social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram that would rewind Nickel back to the 1980s and 1990s aesthetics. 

Drawing from her parent’s photos and outfits from that time, Nickel found gems within her home that would kick start her new style. 

“I’ll look at old stuff they would wear, specifically my dad. I have multiple of his sweaters or his old flannels. I love taking those pieces in,” she said. 

It was here that thrifting became more than just a hobby, it became a boost of confidence and a key to representing who the real Nickel is through her clothing and accessories. 

“I go to Minnesota every year in the summer and in Mall of America they have a store called RagStock. It has a bunch of really cool pieces [like] thrifted items but they also have stuff that is made from renewable sources [and is] upcycled,” she said. 

Not only does Nickel find unique pieces while thrifting, she also recognizes the price benefits of buying second hand as well.

“I think it’s so much cheaper to [thrift]. There’s jeans that are $30 at Target and then you can get like 10 pieces from Goodwill for that and I really love that aspect,” Nickel said. 

Accumulating items from the thrift store allows Nickel to expand her options for outfits with one of a kind pieces. However, clothes aren’t the only thing she plans as she prepares to get ready for the day. Over the years, Nickel has realized the subtle, yet important, presence of accessories. 

“I wear my pearl necklace every day, like every single day. With every single outfit. I feel like it’s something that usually goes unnoticed but it just blends in. Without it, it’s like my neck feels so bare,” she said. 

She’s noticed that these small details are what elevate her look to make it seem like she is dressed up more than what she actually is.

“Even on the days where I’m just wearing a sweatshirt and leggings, I’ll still have all my accessories and that’s what makes people think that I’m dressing up, but I’m not,” Nickel said. 

The realization of the power accessories have is something that is a pretty recent occurrence. 

“I would have never thought about wearing rings or bracelets [in middle school],” she said. 

Now, Nickel doesn’t just incorporate just any basic accessories, she includes ones of her own design. Using shrinky dink paper and some creativity, Nickel is able to make as many colorful earrings as she wants. This, in some way, is similar to thrifting. Each item is unique and has its own story. 

“I love to do it because I make them in like a million different colors so then they can go with whatever outfit I need,” she said.“Some are just really dry white and then some of them are statement pieces of their own that are bright purple or bright and glittery.”

Bright and glittery is who Nickels is, and for many years she felt as though she had to hide her true self to fit in with the others. 

“I was always told that I was the annoying [and] loud kid in middle school and I would try to hide my personality with my style. I would just wear sweatpants and sweatshirts like every day but as I started getting more comfortable with myself, I switched over to wearing bright colors,” she said. 

As the colors have gotten brighter and the patterns more complex, Nickel’s confidence has grown astronomically. It’s all thanks to a global pandemic, some inspiration from the 1980s and 1990s, and a little creativity. 

“[Overall,] I’ve gotten so much more confident. I feel like my style really represents me as a person,” Nickel said. “I’ve just grown so much more comfortable in my own skin that I’m able to represent myself how I want to.”