Samantha Rios says a good eye and an understanding of your body are more important than having lots of money when it comes to looking your best.
Samantha Rios says a good eye and an understanding of your body are more important than having lots of money when it comes to looking your best.
Rob Martinez

Fashion Notes: Rat Rios Goes for a Bold '80s Look in a World of Beige

Samantha “Rat” Rios is a renaissance woman. A musician, painter, actress and playwright, Rios doesn’t contain her creative expression to one medium.

In April, Rios’ paintings were on display at 500X Gallery as part of a gallery showing titled Object/Non-object. She's also starring in a regional production of the musical We’re Gonna Die .

The ever-stylish Rios views her clothing as another opportunity to express herself.

“It is an extension of my perspective of the world around me and what I view as beautiful,” she says.

The singer-songwriter’s style is just as indebted to the '80s as her synth-pop sound. Yet Rios is apprehensive about describing her style as inspired by the period.

“Whenever I see '80s-themed things, it's always neon colors and just dreadful caricatures, and that’s wrong," she says. "I feel very passionately about this.”

Rios enjoys the process of curating a retro look that can still blend with contemporary fashion trends.

“It's a welcomed challenge to see just what I can get away with without crossing the threshold into the world of costume,” she says.

With each outfit, she strives to find the right balance of prints and colors.

“I would say [my style] is unapologetically bold in a world where everything is painfully beige, perhaps a desperate longing for the styles of yesteryear,” Rios says.

As a teen, hand-me-downs from her mother’s closet sparked Rios’ love of vintage clothing. Today, about 80 percent of her wardrobe is thrifted. Rios says a good eye and an understanding of your body are more important than having lots of money when it comes to looking your best.

Rios finds thrifting therapeutic and makes monthly pilgrimages to her favorite Dallas-area thrift stores, where she sifts through piles of clothes to find gold.

“Like any craft, it takes patience and a clear vision to acquire a dream closet,” Rios says.

So, what does Rios look for when thrifting? For one, she prefers the shape and cut of menswear.

“I don't have any curves, so I embrace the beauty of straight lines and sharp angles,” she says.

High-waisted, loose-fitting trousers that hit the ankle are Rios' preferred bottoms. She's also always on the hunt for knee-length dresses, loose crop tops, anything with shoulder pads, long coats and blazers, and oversized sweaters with geometric prints. It’s an aesthetic Rios calls “colorful vintage androgyny.” It's no surprise that she counts '80s pop-culture icons Grace Jones and Annie Lennox among her sources of style inspirations.

To achieve the true Rat Rios aesthetic, you’d (of course) need to go thrifting. But we understand that rummaging through old clothes isn’t always something you feel like doing. You must be in the mood. So we’ve compiled a couple of pieces inspired Rios’ style that you can shop for online to tide you over until your next thrifting excursion.

Fashion Notes: Rat Rios Goes for a Bold '80s Look in a World of BeigeEXPAND
collage by Caroline North

Off-the-Shoulder Crop Top
Forever 21
$22.90
Rios is a fan of crop tops as long as they’re not too tight. This boxy yellow number will add color and movement to your closet.

Ankle-length Slacks
H&M
$12.99
These ankle-length trousers come in a variety of colors and prints and are an affordable option to pair with any loose top.

Slingbacks
H&M
$19.99
When it comes to shoes, Rios' motto is “pointed shoes only.” These slingbacks from H&M are a good option for summer.

Vintage Blazer
Asos
$34.82
Asos is a well-known online dealer, but did you know it also has a virtual marketplace where you can purchase vintage clothes from sellers? It’s a great option for those who like to own vintage pieces but don’t enjoy hunting them down in a physical shop. Asos Marketplace is full of vintage '80s jackets and blazers, like this pink one.

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