Don’t judge my outfit

UMass students fixate too much on what peers wear

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(Collegian file photo)

By Cameron Smith, Collegian Columnist

I am convinced that a small whale on the breast of a collared shirt causes more polarized arguments than U.S. politics. Vineyard Vines happens to be one of those clothing brands that either is worshipped or is hated entirely. Hence, so much judgement stems from both sides. Those who hate it will instantly discredit anyone who wears the whale. Those who love it will poke fun at the clothes that people wear instead. When I look at a Vineyard Vines shirt I see it for what it is, a shirt.

I am constantly left wondering why everyone is so wrapped up in the fashion choices of others. This is not a situation pertaining strictly to the whaled behemoth. Rather, people will judge any brand or style. Remarks on fashion on the UMass campus stretch from comments about a student dressed to resemble a dirty hippy to wearing the typical frat brother outfit. I often hear comments like these across campus. I would like to think that someone’s choice in clothes wouldn’t be the factor to spur hatred amongst peers. And yet, I see every day that people simply cannot let it go.

Fashion is a way for people to share how they are feeling on a day to day basis. For me, when I wake up in the morning and pick out an outfit to wear, I am hoping that it will make me feel good about myself. My hope every day is that others can respect the way I like to dress, but when I hear comments such as, “pfft, Nike shoes,” I really start to get confused. Is it so unreasonable to wear Nike shoes? They do control over 27 percent of the global shoe industry. I hardly believe I’m the only person on campus rocking Nike SBs.

So when I get hateful comments about a generic style of shoe, I am left wondering why there has to be such a sense of negativity surrounding the daily action of clothing ourselves. The reality is that clothes are designed to fit us and look good. Whether or not a floral pattern belongs on a pair of pants, that’s a matter of opinion. No one has the place to judge others if they choose to cover their legs in flowers.

Another aspect to consider is that the way we perceive ourselves can be very important. In a study performed by Adam Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, he found that participants who were given a doctor’s lab coat to wear during a cognitive test performed better than those who wore ordinary clothing. The way we see ourselves based on how we dress can make us more confident in life. So, if dressing the way we want makes us perform tasks better day to day, then go for it. If a wizard hat and overalls help you finish your calculus homework faster, then I will be the first one to give you a wand and pitchfork to go along with it. For me, personally, a pair of khakis and a collared shirt gives me more confidence when writing. There isn’t exactly a reason that I can offer for this, but if it works then I will continue to dress in that way.

Honestly, one of my favorite things about living on a college campus is being able to see the different outfits that people wear. Rules on matching colors and whether socks belong with some shoes fly out the window. If people reduce their judgment, then the sense of creativity can flourish even more. I want for everyone to be comfortable wearing the clothes they love and to be able to experiment.

Even following fashion trends should be acceptable. We all enjoy taking the cool aspects of the people around us and incorporating it into our own lives. I don’t appreciate it when people claim that following major trends is automatically deemed jumping on a bandwagon or copying other’s style. Please dress how you want, because it really just makes the world around us a lot more exciting. Wear what makes you happy and confident, and don’t think twice about what other people may say about your favorite Eagles shirt.

Cameron Smith is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]