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College style changes reflect student individualism

Budget and maturity play a major role in clothing choices and appearance


March 3, 2011

College is an important stage in our lives that has significant influence on who we become. Are the fashion styles we choose an indicator of how much we mature as individuals in college?

According to websites such as CollegeFashion.com, CollegeFashionista.com and HerCampus.com that focus on fashion trends in college for students, the years in college are transformative when it comes to style, but it is also a matter of what can be done when time is scarce.

“In college, fashion is highly subjective,” said an article on www.thebudgetfashionista.com. “Usually if it smells clean and it somewhat matches then it is a fashionable outfit.”Shanayra Stanford and Leslie Perkins

Through a cursory survey while walking in the new Student Center at CSU, one can notice there is a mix of fashion do’s and don’ts. For example, I saw some young and hip trendsetters and a couple groggy sleepy heads wrapped in yesterday’s pajamas. Are the freshmen hipsters trying to make an impression? Are the sleepy-sloppy sophomores just trying to make it to “Thirsty Thursday”?

In my own college career I am noticing how maturing has not only affected my mindset but spilled over into my personal style.

As a freshman I wanted to be the center of attention, and I let my style speak for me. Itty-bitty skirts and too much make-up defined my look and personality.

Nearly four years have passed and during that time I fell into the “I’m-so-over-school-mode” of wearing sweatpants and Ugg boots to every class now, where my appearance is professional, due heavily to the business-casual atmosphere of the internship I am participating in.

After speaking with several students on campus I realized that I was not alone. There may be some lifestyle aspects that affect our college style but nearly everyone agreed they have changed throughout their college years, both their style and their self-confidence.

“I dressed up more in the beginning [first semester],” said Shanayra Stanford, CSU freshman from Buffalo NY. “My high maintenance routine quickly faded due to a hectic and early class schedule.”

Does this behavior sound typical of a freshman? Putting the effort into appearance until you find your cohort of friends, then slowly progressing into a more relaxed and casual style.

“I was made up every day, make-up and hair done, even if I went out for a walk,” said Angie Kothera, CSU senior from Middlefield, Ohio, as she recalled her freshmen years.
Kothera continued this high maintenance routine until her sophomore year. “I stopped wearing heels,” said Kothera “Now I’m more comfortable in sneakers and a hoodie.”

Some students refuse to let their morning classes affect their personal style. Leslie Perkins, CSU junior from Cleveland, OH, said she will wear “sweats, hoodies and tim’s” to her morning classes then go home, change and come back in a more class appropriate attire.

Is dressing for school more of an issue of comfort or style? “It all depends on how I feel,” said Marko Jovic, CSU senior and native of Serbia. He then continued to say “I think you should dress nice all the time. For school, yeah it’s professional to look nice.”

Contrary to Kothera and Perkins, Jovic said dressing more professional for school makes him feel more comfortable because “I feel better when I look good.”

Everyone agreed being comfortable is what is most important when dressing for school but trying to achieve a comfortable and stylish look on a college budget is not easy.

Many fashion websites such as BeautyandtheBudget.com and CollegeCandy.com including the ones mentioned above offer coupons, beauty tips and advice for budget friendly campus looks because the Web site developers feel style can get lost during these rough economic years.

Some students explained that shopping on budget is something they are not accustomed to or find difficult.

“I had a job in high school and now I don’t, so fact is that I don’t have money to play into my style,” said Stanford.

She further explained that it is difficult to buy the stylish items she wants on a lower budget.

“Yeah, definitely,” said Kothera when asked if budget comes into play with her style. “The less I spend the more I can buy. I don’t need the name brands anymore”

Stanford, a freshman, and Kothera, a senior, differ on their ideas of style on a budget.
Kothera believes trends are no longer the name brands but clothing that makes you feel comfortable.

Does this prove the old proverb of “with age comes wisdom”? Or does it show that we become more frugal with age due to responsibilities?

“Your budget is lower,” said Adrian Tetu, CSU junior originally from Romania now living in Parma, on the sad truths about living on your own.

“When you’re in the real world you have responsibilities,” Tetu continued, “There are those people who will spend the money. I like nice clothes so I’ll spend.”
The students also agreed that on certain days they will dress according to that day’s events.

“During the job fair everyone dresses-up, it’s professional,” said Jovic. Stanford and Perkins agreed they will “dress up for that cutie” in class.

Now back to our original question: Is how you dress for class an indicator of how much you have matured?
Kothera said with confidence that when it comes to dressing up for school “I can take it or leave it, I’m much more confident now.”

It may depend on the person but I know we can all agree that college life matures us. Our style truly depends on the type of person we are.

“Prepare for change,” said Kothera, who wanted to leave the CSU freshmen with some advice.

“Don’t be set in your ways. Your thought process will change and you will eventually be comfortable being less of a trend follower and more of, well, you.”