The Brown student’s fashion dilemma

Is it a suit? Or jammies? So much fashion confusion!

In the words of Macklemore:

Draped in a leopard mink, girls standin’ next to me

But also…

I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that motherfucker
The built-in onesie with the socks on that motherfucker

So, Brown, which best describes us? Well, both…kind of. We may not be as fashion-forward as some other universities (hey, at least we’re are less sexist), and we certainly don’t compete with our neighbors down the Hill, but there are some pretty fly outfits on campus. But how can we motivate ourselves to dress cool when we wake up at 9:58 for a 10 a.m. class?  My 9 a.m. is lucky I brush my teeth, much less change out of my Brown ‘athletic’ apparel. And why don’t we hold the legitimate athletes to the same standard? Probably because you’d sound obnoxious if you said this: “Hey, I know you had to run the Hill this morning and just physically exerted yourself more in one hour than I do in a full year, but I am really not digging the way your basketball shorts don’t match your winter coat.” We are college students: we’re learning, playing, studying, and, well, partying. One-third of us are too busy, and the other two-thirds are too lazy to be dressing spiffy.

For the lazy folk out there: don’t you miss all of your nice clothes? I certainly miss my skinny jeans, and I love it when I have the energy to wear something decent, because it’s a really enjoyable way of expressing myself—I didn’t buy those awesome combat boots at the Army Navy Surplus Store on Thayer so that they could collect dust under my bed! Obviously, I was having some serious qualms about how to juggle being a college student AND a vintage-fashion crazed shopaholic.

So I talked to people about it. I solicited fashion advice from my immaculately dressed professor in my Gender, Science and Society seminar. The students in the seminar (mostly girls) felt like people should wear sweats in college, but they gave props to our professor for always looking as if she had just walked out of a Banana Republic or J. Crew magazine (…and she even commutes to PVD from NYC daily! Props). Of course, I also talked to people on the steps of Faunce who don their best apparel and accessories every morning and create the appearance of giving a shit about how they look on campus. Between looking as if you’re lazing around and as if you’re hitting the runway, I feel like there’s no happy medium at Brown.

I gained the most insight on this topic from a male athlete on campus. He said that campus style was the most raw period of a college student’s life: no parents to dress you, no formal dress code, peers that won’t judge you; it recognizes the individual underneath. He also used phrases like “pragmatism over fashion abstraction,” but at that point, he was going over my head. Basically, because you don’t have the pressure to dress to a certain standard everyday—fashion at Brown is a true expression of you. So there is no conflict if you wear a tuxedo to class one day and pajamas the next, because like a true Brunonian, you’re expressing yourself the way you want to.

That said, during this formative time of experimentation, one needs to get a handle on when it’s appropriate to dress it up, and when it’s OK to dress it down.

  • DO get dressed for meetings during office hours with professors. It’s the respectful thing to do, considering that they are (loosely) required to dress decently every day.
  • If you’re going to a rowdy party, DON’T wear clothes that are too nice if you anticipate that there will be lots of spilled drinks. You will fuck up your clothes, and your parents will be mad at your dry cleaning bill.
  • DO dress up if you are going to a themed party, because it’s way more fun that way.
  • If you have a killer day ahead of you and you need to stay focused and awake, try putting on the constricting denim armor—some real shoes and a fully buttoned shirt will help you feel more conscious and alert, rather than tired, sleepy, and lazy, as sweats may.
It’s in your hands, Brown. Your closet is a wonderland. All hail the power of choice.
Image via.

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