KELSEY MURRAY ’16
What you wear might be the riskiest decision you make today.
I recently found myself criticizing a random girl over her outfit in a picture on Instagram. My argument: it wasn’t “classy” enough. The picture was taken at another school’s sorority party themed “Angels and Devils”. Naturally, themed parties are the perfect excuse for college girls to wear as little clothing as possible, regardless of the fact that it may or may not have still been the middle of winter. When all was said and done, however, I was taken aback by my immediate attack on this girl’s choice of clothing for the night. First of all, I had never met her before and to be honest, I probably never would, so why did I feel the need to criticize her so harshly? I had jumped to the conclusion that someone who would wear an outfit like that out in public couldn’t possibly be someone who I’d want to be friends with. Who was I to judge this stranger for what she chose to wear or make assumptions about her moral character when I had never met her? After I had time to think about things however, I realized that while my judgments were uncalled for, they were part of a larger reality. What you wear really does affect how those around you will perceive you.
Not that I wasn’t aware of it before, but my harsh words impressed upon me further exactly how important how you dress really is. Now to be clear, during the winter my day-to-day outfits consist mostly of the traditional leggings, duck-boots, and, if I’m lucky, a cute shirt in place of the usual oversized sweatshirt. I throw scarves over outfits hoping to make them seem slightly more presentable and toss hats over my hair on its worst days. On days where I actually put some thought into my outfit and look on point, I can’t help but think, “wow I really have my life together” as ridiculous as that may sound. I don’t dress as if I’m in a fashion show, and I prefer to dress as comfortably as I can without bordering on sloppy. Whether someone chooses to go to class every day looking as if they rolled out of bed with five minutes to spare is their decision. It is completely within their rights to dress how they choose. However, I think the wearer needs to be aware of the certain kinds of assumptions that may be made purely based on their choice of wardrobe, no matter how unfair that sounds.
Likewise, if someone goes to a party in the middle of winter wearing something that could be considered questionable even during the warmer seasons, they are inviting unpleasant and sometimes false assumptions to be made about themselves. Even though a person should be free to wear whatever suits their fancy without facing the sometimes brutally honest judgment of others, that just isn’t the case sadly.
A large part of Trinity’s student population dresses exactly the same way. Representing companies like Lacoste, LL Bean, Brooks Brothers, Lilly, and Patagonia to the extreme; pastel colors and polo shirts litter campus during the fall and spring seasons. There are definitely some other styles that grace Trinity’s campus, adding diversity to a sea of perpetual embroidered whale and palm tree prints. However, these individual styles are often times classified as odd and are viewed as unwanted on our preppy campus. An outfit that typically wouldn’t turn heads on the streets of New York or Los Angeles is regarded as completely out of place on Trinity’s campus. There are certain outfits that will undeniably be labeled as tacky and unflattering, but Trinity’s campus is an environment where even the mildest deviation from the norm is criticized. I don’t think that a person’s divergent style or taste should be yet another motive for Trinity to have an exclusionary and selective environment.
Does the fact that I would choose yoga pants over designer pants any day of the week make me less “classy”? Even though I don’t particularly keep up with or strictly abide by the latest and hottest fashion trends, preferring to dress myself how I feel most comfortable, I did feel comfortable calling the previously mentioned stranger out on her outfit that, obviously, she too felt comfortable wearing. This makes me wonder how many times someone has looked at me and either said or thought something similar to what I had about this girl. Just because her outfit isn’t something I would have chosen to wear shouldn’t give me the grounds to make unfair assumptions. At the end of the day it is everyone’s own choice how they choose to dress themselves. That being said, the stigma someone can get from dressing inappropriately is definitely something to be avoided. I guess the lesson learned is that you should feel comfortable dressing to your preference, but watch how you dress.