I finally learned how to dress myself about three years ago. Before college, I had absolutely no concept of clothing – a shirt was a shirt, a shoe was a shoe and a pant was a pant. Clothing was purely a means of covering my body, and the idea of developing a “style” baffled me. I thought that denim jeans were uncomfortable and refused to wear a pair (I didn’t buy my first until I started college). I chose ill fitting dresses and over-sized tees over decent blouses and trousers. I had a few sets of beat up flats, yet mostly wore my hard-soled slippers to any occasion.
My uniform-clad, private high school enabled me to keep this state of all-too-casual dressing until I started my first part time job in Winter 2007. Told that I needed to dress in “business casual attire,” I found myself in a cold dressing room with a sales assistant tossing garments over the locked door.
I had been living in one-note fashion for so long, that this transition proved to be a great challenge for me. Unaware as to what looked appropriate, I took the lovely woman’s instructions and left with a few bags in hand. The next afternoon, I set out for my first day at my new job – dressed like an adult for once and feeling a bit more professional in mindset.
After this experience, I began to understand further the need to have an expanded wardrobe, one that could be used for different facets of life — for social gatherings, interviews, and evenings watching movies on the couch. Once I started college, I had accumulated a few pieces that I could carry into my, now, self-appointed schooling outfits. Excited to dress in whatever for class, I looked forward to seeing what others would be wearing from a day-to-day basis in college. I had high hopes for seeing trendy outfits, well-groomed gentleman noticed right away that Dominican has many fantastic dressers, who love to use their imagination to craft interesting ensembles. However, at the same time, I realized that there are a few fashion slumps that seem to inhabit the halls of DU. These bumps in the road of successful outfits have caused great discussion on my behalf, and the excuse of “I’m only going to class” rings loudly in my ears.
I have a strong belief in the power of self-presentation, especially during ones time at university. This isn’t a self-centered idea, or one that is rooted in shallow thoughts reliant only on outward appearance. This feeling is quite the opposite, actually. In truth, I believe that every student at Dominican University has something beautiful and intelligent to show the world —in their mind, in their heart, and in their spirit. By supplementing this internal wit with external professionalism, I know that we will all find successful futures worthy of all we have to offer.
By starting in college, dressing for success in the years to come will be a piece of cake, and, after all, you never know who you will meet during your undergrad or graduate years that may work as a career catalyst. At the same time, by starting to build a professional wardrobe now, and by trying out different styles, it will be much easier to have a closet full of appropriate clothing when you take the world by storm.
Now, I’m not telling you to dress in your Sunday best every day of the week. We all have our lazy days — late nights of studying and putting finishing touches on a project sometimes take the best of us, leaving our minds exhausted. On certain days, putting together a presentable outfit is the last thing to cross your mind. But, it takes just a moment to pair a belt with your jeans (gentleman), or to change out of your yoga pants in exchange for something a bit more sufficient (ladies). Here are a few suggestions as to how you can dress a bit more professionally impressive without sacrificing comfort or morning ease.
Ladies: Leggings are not pants
With the rebirth of the legging a few years back, they’ve seem to have taken the women’s fashion world by storm. I’m quite the fan of the legging, when worn appropriately, and have a few pairs in my closet right now. I’m all for the legging underneath longer top – one that covers your rear end – or paired with a shorter length dress. However, the legging has also become the lazy approach to getting ready in the morning. I can’t tell you the number of times I see girls at Dominican wearing nothing but a regular t-shirt paired with black, sheer leggings, unmindful (or unconcerned) that we can all see exactly where they bought their underwear from. This look, though easy going, is quite far from appropriate, at least in my eyes. My suggestion? Pair this same shirt with a pair of black skinny jeans or dark-wash denim for an approach that is just as easy, or pair your leggings with a cotton above-the-knee dress for a comfortable, university-appropriate outfit.
Gentlemen: Different shoes for different occasions
There is a reason why a “gym shoe” is called a “gym shoe.” Athletic shoes are meant to be worn during physical activity, not during everyday life. The same pair of sneakers that you wear while working out in the Fitness Center or on a morning run shouldn’t also be worn with the jeans and button-up that you put on for class later in the day.
There are many different men’s shoe options that should be explored and can turn your typical outfit into something more suitable for college life, such as a canvas slip-on or a leather Oxford. I promise, the ladies on campus will appreciate the little effort, and if your guy friends give you a hard time, find comfort in the fact that you look more professional than they do.
I hope that this article encourages you to make creative and informed decisions in regards to clothing and to set aside those oversized sweats for a something that will make sure shine a little bit brighter. You owe it to yourself, I swear.