A young woman of college age walked to class in a simple outfit consisting of jeans and a baggy sweatshirt. Her hair was tied back in a messy bun, out of the way so she could focus on her studies and not the stray hairs clinging to her face. She wore no makeup and as she walked down the hallway, she went unnoticed and seemed to fade into the background.
The next day, something had changed. The same young woman wore a nice brown dress that showed off her curves from the belt that accentuated her waist so nicely. Her outfit was completed with a cute pair of black flats and her hair groomed to near perfection. Her face was well put together with a delicate layer of makeup highlighting her natural beauty.
Yet, even though she looked well put together, her confidence wavered. Her composure was replaced with a nervous smile. The young woman felt uneasy as she walked down those same halls with eyes staring at her in a way she could not describe. The sudden attention caught her off guard.
That young woman was me.
Fashion has an impact on peoples’ lives, which has been demonstrated through the countless fashion shows and magazines dedicated to all the new and upcoming trends.
However, fashion also has a place and time, and if you go against the grain, you might regret it. Fashion can help us blend into the crowd or it can help us stand out from the rest. As I experienced, dressing up when you are just going to class isn’t something that people would expect of a college student.
“I definitely believe there is an unwritten rule that dictates what we wear to classes,” said Northern Illinois University (NIU) senior Becca Lopez. “If there weren’t you wouldn’t see several students, of both genders, wearing the same type of clothing. I think the rule is to be comfortable but not look trashy or like a slob.”
In general, college students don’t necessarily dress to impress, they dress for comfort. However, wearing sweatshirts and jeans to class doesn’t make college students unfashionable. Some college students choose to dress this way because they can see beyond what is on the surface.
“I think what’s beautiful, especially about women, is when people open up about themselves. When they open up more, I really see beauty,” said NIU junior Kaitlyn Dahlman. “It’s not really about what they look like; it’s more about their heart and soul.”
Although the definition of beauty changes from person to person, true beauty or what is fashionable to NIU college students is what is on the inside of a person.
“Beauty to me means having a good outlook on yourself, whether you ‘put on your game face’ or go without makeup and wear those sweatpants every day,” said Lopez. “Beauty is being comfortable in your own skin and it shouldn’t matter what others think.”
College students are not trying to discredit fashion. These college students dress for ease and comfort because the main focus is experiencing college life through the knowledge that fills the classrooms to discovering the world outside the dorm rooms.
“I don’t try to find clothing to make it work for me. For me right now, my education is more important than how I look,” said Dahlman. “I don’t need to impress anybody. Those who know me stay with me because of who I am.”
College students have enough to worry about with term papers and final exams. Dressing up more for school shouldn’t be of concern to students. When students dress for comfort, they will still be fashionable and beautiful in their own way.
It is fine not to dress up for college. When students dress down their look, they can still be filled with confidence, and embrace their own unique style that is expressed through their personality rather than their clothing.