Trend Setter or Trend Follower?
“Fall” into the Style that is College
College is supposed to be full of new experiences, friends, and trends. Adapting to the college lifestyle, for me especially, has been quite the reality adjustment. Not only have my friends and behavior changed but so has my style. New school, new year, new me? Or just me who is finally catching up with all the preppy designs and trends? I really hate to admit it, and many other people would be to, but the weather is not the only thing determining what I wear on a daily basis. When I go to the store to shop, the judgment of society constantly sits in the back of my head and it eliminates the freedom of choosing what to purchase. Some would say, “just buy it anyways” and “who cares what other people think?” but in reality many people, including myself, care what other people think.
So why do we dress the way that we dress? Why do we buy the things that we buy? Coming to college, I tried to scale back on the amount of clothes I brought because I knew living in a dorm would mean limited living and storage space compared to my home. As I settled into college and made new friends, things fell quickly into place. My days consistently began with waking up in the morning and deciding what to wear and that includes asking the first question, “sweats or jeans?” and moving on from there. The normal “getting ready in the morning process” for most girls is long and tedious and making sure your outfit is put together is key. One thing that I have observed about myself, and noted each day that I have collected field notes is that I really put effort and thought into what I wear everyday. For example, whether my necklace matches my shirt, whether my shoes complete my outfit or what have you. Since I have been at Christopher Newport University everyday I have met someone new. What you wear the first time you meet someone leaves a lasting impression until they see you again and that’s something I always consider when dressing myself in the morning.
While getting acclimated to the college scenery, I have decided to involve myself in school activities, including sorority events to make for friends and get to know some of the unfamiliar faces on campus. Sororities are known for having a “preppy” sort of style that seems to catch on to the girls that decide to rush later on. Focusing in on a more recent event, last Sunday, September 20th, I went to a sorority event and all the sisters that were there wore matching Lilly Pulitzer dresses, a popular women’s clothing and accessories branch off of Oxford’s company, which seemed to be the “in” style for that particular sorority. That same day, I met with a close friend of mine who is in a different sorority for lunch. There is an event coming up known as the Red Dress Gala, and she was talking to me about what the sisters were expected to wear and the status meant for the girls to uphold. This meant, to me personally, that if you joined a sorority you must abide by what they want you to do, wear and attend.
I have not been the only one that wants to appeal to the publics eye since I have been in college. As I have been observing, on Tuesday September 22nd, my suitemate strolled into my room with a different shoe on each foot and immediately asked my opinion on which one matched her outfit better. Knowing that my opinion meant something to her was heart warming. Very recently, my suitemate came back from visiting her family at home with bags and bags of new clothes and shoes. I had asked her what she brought back and she told me that she had two new pairs of heels because she was not aware that she would be needing heels as much as she ahs been since she has been at college. This is a prime example of college shaping our every day lives, even if we do not always see it that way.
Not only does college shape our views on fashion and what we should wear but so does the media. In our generation, the media has been one of, if not the most, influential things in our day to day lives. Just sit back and think about how many times you may check Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter in a day and see something posted about an outfit or a new article of clothing that someone got. On Thursday September 24th, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across an article from Elle.com talking about all the prettiest dresses from New York’s fashion week that took place not too long ago. Scrolling through and reading this article, it made me think about what other people thought about this. Were women going out and purchasing these dresses just because this one journalist thought that they were pretty? In reality, more than likely yes because people’s opinions matter to other people more than we want to admit.
Throughout the past couple of days that I have been keeping field notes I have also gone on twitter and kept an eye out for any tweets about fashion or anything relating to judgment of style etc. While keeping track of tweets, I never noticed how many were actually about judgment of what other people wear. One in particular stood out to me and it said the following, “When people say your outfit looks comfy what they really mean is I hate you.” People in today’s society really believe this to me true. You cannot wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt and have people like you? Although I am writing from the more literal perspective, it’s still upsetting that people actually think this way.
Connecting all this back to an overall theme, it would most likely fit in the category of class and status. If you have the more expensive and popular branded clothing than you’re going to be seen at a higher status and that’s what people want. Judgment, whether we think so or not, is an issue in today’s society. Being accepted with the masses is what we want and our very nature is to coexist with the world and people around us and not have to worry about what everyone else thinks. Although this problem may never be solved, we have to accept the fact that we cannot always be like everyone else and conforming to societies “standards” are not what is best for a healthy, diverse community.