Students should not feel pressure to dress

By Jen Mok

Contributing Writer

College. It is supposed to be different from high school and the previous years of our youth. We may have all worn those Lacoste polo shirts, those Juicy sweatpants, popped our collars and had closets full of Abercrombie and Hollister duds. The tastes and trends that dominated our closets may or may not have changed. Whatever the case is, we have all once dressed a certain way to keep up with the social scene in one way or another.

During the four years of college, the social jungle and hierarchy that may have been daunting in high school is supposedly less apparent and students are more evolved: open-minded individuals willing to branch out into the real world. The individual refines and molds his character with experience and reaches a certain level of comfort with himself. The resulting changes include an increased intelligence level (we hope), perspectives and of course fashion. These adjustments are self-determined, with some influence from the college campus we belong to. Or are they?

There are jokes and rumors that our university is a school full of clones that have that certain preppy look. When we say preppy we don’t mean the Lilly Pulitzer and bright pink manifestation. It’s a different prep–-a sort of chic, East Coast, crisp and very J.Crew catalogue prep. And in all reality, there is a truth in this. The girls have their J Brand Jeans, J.Crew cardigans, Frye and Hunter boots while the boys have their Ralph Lauren button downs, Sperry shoes and Under Armour … well, you get the idea. The real question is not if the majority of our student population dresses this way, but if there is a certain pressure to dress this way. I feel as though our student body is knowledgeable and open-minded enough to not judge heavily on an individual’s appearance. While there may be a slight pressure to dress to meet the status quo, it is ultimately an individual’s independent decision.

A lot of students come from the New York tri-state area consisting of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. They then, of course, have a common sense of style. Others foreign to this Northeast-metro fashion culture may feel a bit of pressure to change their style on arrival to the campus.

It is natural and completely understandable to want to change your style according to those around you. It is not just a way of fitting in but an easy way to feel more welcomed in a community. Changing your image is one way to feel more connected and accessible to others. However, many are more prone to alter their image due to their high attentiveness to certain alarming, small differences. One student may change one detailed aspect of their appearance, be it a small change in footwear or the way they wear their scarves. Many students are conscious of their differences and whilst not pressured or judged to change them, they feel more comfortable in changing to fit the majority. It is inevitable that some of us are less at ease when we view clear differences in others and ourselves. To relieve such stress, it may be best to simply change what we feel is starkly contrasting and unfitting for a setting.

On the other hand, not achieving the same preppy look does not automatically make you an outsider to the University community. Different styles are appreciated and on some levels even encouraged amongst peers. Fashion is not only a way for someone to express his or her creativity but it is a reflection of one’s culture. Where we are from and who we are, are sometimes best represented by the clothing we wear. No one is looked down upon for embracing a more edgy look or a very laid-back, casual t-shirt-and-jeans combination. We all know that you should be comfortable with what you are wearing. Your clothes are what you have to wear throughout the day and it is how you allow others to perceive you. In short, there is no pressure to dress “Bucknell appropriate” but there is no doubt that a big percentage of the student population have, what I label, an east-coast Chic Prep style.

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