After being at the University of Massachusetts for a little over a month, fashion is one of the many aspects of campus culture that I have both become passionately interested in and am still adjusting to. There are so many differences between high school and college, and style is just one of many significant examples.
As I walk from Bartlett to Marcus every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, I entertain myself by observing the diversity of fashion choices amongst the over 20,000 students who attend this school. And, boy is there a range — everything from the “I just rolled out of bed” look to the “I’m ready for my close-up.”
There is definitely a line, and some people definitely cross it.
For example, if it is a Friday morning, and you have class before noon, there is nothing on this planet that should compel you to wear heels to walk from John Adams to Herter Hall. But, then again, is it acceptable to wear big sweatpants, a zip-up and shoes that suspiciously resemble slippers? It’s clear that it’s highly possible to overdo it on both ends of the spectrum.
If you walk into class with makeup running down your face, a sweatshirt that you oh-so-clearly put on last night, ripped leggings and worn-out moccasins, it appears like you’re sleepwalking your way to class after spending the entire night awake.
In my four weeks at college, I have seen several classmates arrive in this state. I have yet to decide if this type of presentation is disrespectful, self-deprecating, embarrassing or all of the above. My instincts tell me that students dressed like this would be better off skipping, as their concentration would most likely be nonexistent.
On the other hand, you don’t want to arrive to class looking like you just spent the last hour and a half getting ready.
I have also personally witnessed many students who feel the need to load up on pounds of makeup, use a can of hairspray and carefully coordinate an ensemble to simply sit in a lecture hall and take notes on calculus. So you really like your leopard dress paired with those four-inch wedges? Save it for Saturday, honey.
After careful observation, I decided that there has to be a happy medium, an in-between, a compromise between comfort and presentation. As my friend Taylor, who attends art school in Boston, says, “it’s really not that hard to throw on jeans and a cardigan and a scarf.”
She’s right; there is a way to look fashionable without overdoing it.
All you have to do is look presentable, which means that you have to feel comfortable and you have to feel happy with yourself. Confidence, in my opinion, is the best accessory you can add to any outfit – so walk with some poise. Sometimes playing it cool makes the outfit. But, just remember: less is more. The less you show it and the more you feel it, the better — you don’t wear every piece of jewelry that you own at the same time, do you?
Personally, I don’t stand out in the crowd. Today I wore Sperry’s, a pair of jeans, a red shirt and a scarf. I’m all for self-expression — I have a collection of scarves that I wear not only when I’m cold, but also when I want to add individuality to my ensemble. And don’t accuse me of being boring, I just think that some of my dresses and shoes would be better fit for a party or a night out on the town.
So, when it comes to campus style, there are lots of ways to express yourself while remaining comfortable and avoiding going overboard. I like to save my most favorite and put-together outfits for the weekend when I can hang out with my friends and socialize in an environment where high style is more commonly accepted. Wearing a dress to a day of school in high school may have been the norm, but on a large campus like UMass, the extra effort simply seems tiring and stewed.
Samara Abramson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]