In what can only be described as the modern-day Miss Frizzle and Harper Finkle, Myra Magdalen has proven to be a refreshing and unique face on the fashion scene. From wires to stuffed animals, the 26-year-old takes everyday household items and transforms them into jaw-dropping looks, showcasing them in front of a makeshift wall of vintage keyboards for her nearly half a million followers on TikTok.
Growing up in Alabama, Magdalen has been constantly inspired throughout her life. Her imagination and supportive mom was key to her success.
“My mom is the main weirdo,” she says. “She would always take me thrifting into auctions, and she makes me feel like a minimalist.”
This makes us both laugh, considering that Magdalen is anything but a minimalist.
In addition to her mother, Magdalen looks to other impactful women for maximalist fashion inspiration, noting stand-out celebrities Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj.
“Nicki Minaj was definitely one of the OG people that I saw when I was a young teenager that I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, yes. Why don’t people dress like that?’”
Making a connection to our teenage years, we discuss the long-forgotten website “Polyvore,” a virtual mood board used to build and construct outfit collages. When Magdalen reminds me of this, I audibly gasp and we both get giddy with nostalgia. We reflect on how Polyvore inspired us, particularly how it prompted Magdalen to start creatively thinking more about outfits and how to piece them together.
“I would spend every second of my free time on there,” she says.
Magdalen realized she could wear art once Seventeen Magazine started being delivered to her house. Seeing different outfits showcased and how they were pieced together inspired her to start creating outfits herself. Now, Magdalen makes outfits that are not only fashionable, but are also wearable sculptures and statements within themselves.
Thrift culture is exploding onto the Gen-Z scene, but Magdalen has been doing it for as long as she can remember. Thrifting is responsible for some of the most out-of-the-box items she has used, like her iconic safety pin outfit, which features a giant safety pin that wraps around the body. Curious about how she makes elaborate outfits like these work, I asked her how she physically puts large items on her body, and — spoiler alert — it’s no easy feat.
Magdalen reveals that she often uses heavy-duty velcro due to the weight of heavier accessories, like clocks and shells.
Finding her niche on TikTok was anything but difficult. On an app with spaces and crevices for everyone, her followers found her quickly and fell in love. Starting her page during the COVID-19 pandemic, Magdalen used her spare time to fully explore herself within art and fashion.
“My life, because of COVID, just like everyone else ... the trajectory of my life went in a totally different way,” she shares. “It was a little bit of like, ‘OK, let's try something different. Let's try something new.’”
On social media, there will always be people who don’t understand Magdalen’s vision, leaving commentary like “I don’t get this” or “This is bad,” yet the creative doesn’t allow negativity to get to her.
“It doesn't bother me at all, actually,” she says. “Some people say they don't get it ... what they're basically saying is that it's very weird. It's something they haven't seen before.”
While there are people who don't understand her, Magdalen has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers — and counting — being her true, authentic self, which is hard to come by these days. One thing that especially drew me to Magdalen was this willingness to be herself, no matter what. After sharing this with her, she agreed.
“I mean, that's what's really cool about the internet, is that it still surprises me that other people like this type of stuff,” Magdalen says.
Magdalen produces the kind of content that stops you in your tracks while scrolling the For You Page. Some of the recent items she has used, such as robotic dogs and toy aquariums, have been her most ambitious and eye-catching works yet.
Here, I talk to Magdalen more about how she curates her personal style.
U: Where do you go to find these items?
M: Thrift stores! But I feel the two very underrated things I feel like people are catching on to now [are] estate sales and auctions, [they’re] super underrated places to get really, really cool stuff. The people that are there and are looking probably aren't looking for what you're looking for.
That's something that I really get a lot of luck with at auctions because a lot of auctions that I go to, it's a lot of older men, and they don't want any of the things that I want.
U: What made you go to an estate sale or garage sale, look at a piece of tech, a phone or a light bulb and be like, “What if I put this on my body?” How did you get from point A to point B? It's really interesting. So, I'm curious about how you got there.
M: I wish I knew because it's always right there, you know what I mean? The second that I saw the keyboards, I was like, “You should go on my wall.” My mom actually got the light bulb. She got it when she was picking strawberries. Someone gave her one of those light bulb things and she brought it home. She sent me a photo of it. And she said, “I just got this light bulb thing,” and I was, like, “On my head!”
U: If you remember, what was the first object you ever put on an outfit?
M: I think it was a remote, because I kept seeing videos of people getting dressed for fashion school in New York. I loved all of their outfits because, at the time, it was a really big trend to wear lots of knitted stuff, like, layered, kind of like the more neutral colors. I was like, “I want to do an outfit like that,” and then I was like, all these beiges look like my beige remote, and it made sense in my head.
U: How do you stay so true to yourself? Because I know we're kind of in a time with TikTok and with the internet, it's very easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and hop on those trends. How do you stay true to yourself?
M: Yeah, I feel like you kind of have to protect yourself from getting too trend brain. Whenever I style an outfit, I'm always like, “How do I make this the most me it can be? And then even more me?” I feel like a good way to have that mindset is that, for me, it's not all about just the clothes or, like, the styling of what I'm wearing on my body. If what I was doing, if I was creating an art set with these same pieces, I take the fashion and the body aspect out of it. It's just the art imagery. I definitely still appreciate fashion trends and keeping up with them and knowing what's going on. If there's something that I like, I'll try and play around with it, but I feel like looking at it as art first instead of clothes first.
U: To shift gears, how do people react when you go in public? Because I know I would probably come up to you and be like, “I'm obsessed,” but I'm sure people are like, “That’s interesting.”
M: Yeah, no. Both exactly. I get the “Oh, my gosh, I love that,” and the, like, side eye, or people will come up and try to talk to me about something unrelated, just to, you know, figure out what's going on.
U: What's the craziest thing you’ve worn in public? I guess crazy is not the right word because I don't think it's crazy, but what would you think would be perceived as the craziest thing?
M: Maybe my hoofs. Honestly, not because of the actual hoof part, because I don't even think people are really noticing that, it’s because they make me 7 feet tall. I'm already tall. I mean, those are probably my, like I have a lot of, like, really tall shoes, but those might be my tallest. In those, I'm like, having to duck for light fixtures and stuff.
U: What kind of events do you wear those to?
M: To go out or, like, go hang out with friends at their house and stuff, and I can make them take photos of me. Also, with my family and stuff, but I wish I had more actual events to go to.
U: I guess this is kind of a given since your mom is an inspiration for you, but I'm assuming your family is very encouraging. When they see you dress like this, they're probably like, “Oh, this is awesome!”
M: They’re all so used to it. They've all helped me move multiple times. They have seen, like, at the most level the chaos that is me.
U: Do you still go thrifting with your mom?
M: Yeah! We go to auctions and estate sales and she's an expert at it all.
U: I'm on the East Coast near New York and Connecticut, and I feel like thrifting in the South is better for some reason. Have you noticed that? That it's easier to find stuff?
M: So much better! It's so much better. That's another piece of advice that I would give because I've lived in big cities, obviously, and I've lived in not-so-big cities. You live in a big city, and you're not having much luck thrifting. I would recommend driving to a more rural area. You would think the opposite, but for some reason, it's not, especially if you have the patience to look through and find those gems. But, yeah, I would say thrifting is a lot better and cheaper, too, honestly.
U: Staying true to yourself and your fashion choices involves curating a personal style. One of my final questions for Magdalen was about thrift tips on how to find pieces that work best for you.
M: I would say patience. A lot of looking. Have you ever been thrifting with someone and they're, like, done in 30 minutes, and you're like, “Why?” You have to search those racks, like, four times over. So don't skim the racks and be like, “Oh, I don't see any fun fabrics! I give up!” You really do have to go one by one. Also, I guess, have an open mind, because there have been pieces where I've been like, maybe not. I don't know, and now they're my favorite thing that I own. Have a positive attitude!
Magdalen has taken her creativity to the next level by starting her own brand, Magdalen Clothing. Along with having original artwork on T-shirts, Magdalen produces one-of-a-kind items. One of my favorites is the "Bug Blazer," a reworked men’s suit jacket with bug prints. Magdalen also offers items that allow her fanbase to emulate pieces of her own, like the "Keyboard Sweatshirt," a tribute to the keyboard wall that is featured in the back of her videos.
Magdalen is a fresh face in the fashion and art world. You can find more of her on Instagram, TikTok and magdalenclothing.com.