September 12, 2002

Campus Couture

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When it comes to looking good, guys need only follow a very simple rule of thumb: never underestimate the powers of a clean, freshly shaven face, lightly styled and recently washed hair, a crisp, collared shirt and nicely ironed khakis.

But even with this ridiculously easy guideline to abide by, men still manage to commit fashion faux pas after faux pas. Just take a quick glance around the campus. You’ll see an overwhelming majority of the male population having a disturbing love affair with their knee-length cargo shorts, five o’clock shadows, cheap, worn T-shirts, weathered baseball caps, and heinous sandals a.k.a. “mandals” that seem to hail from the Biblical era.

Maybe you were going for the whole comfort angle, which is understandable, or perhaps even for that rugged outdoorsy look as epitomized by the likes of Olympian Apolo Ohno or skater Tony Hawk. But chances are, you are not some cut and toned professional athlete, but probably a pale, pasty boy leaning a little on the skinny or doughy side regrettably minimizing the potential of his chances to be hot and gorgeous with his flagrant fashion failures.

So you insist on looking messy and disheveled, for no one can come between you and your beloved cargos. But frankly, your shorts are looking a bit worn and neglected right now. The relationship between the two of you has gotten old and stale, it’s time to free yourself from the cargo cult and distinguish yourself stylistically.

Before you get all huffy about how there is no way you will emasculate yourself by wearing some flamboyant number from a flashy designer, there is a way to stand out among the crowd of baseball-capped college boys without setting off the radar and putting your sexual orientation question. The timeless trend of donning dirty denim will allow you to maintain the grubby hygiene that comes with the student lifestyle of sleep deprivation, hangovers, and minimal showers, while slyly passing off this grungy unsightliness as grungy chic.

Hugo Boss has a current line of dirty denim available for your fashion consumption. A jacket and pair of matching pants will cost you $320, and a nice splash of a $95 basic ribbed shirt or heavy ribbed turtleneck for $185 will break up the denim-heavy color scheme.

This ensemble can fetch up to $505, and seeing that with this money you can buy 25 new cargo shorts or 144 pairs of shining new sandals, the prospect of you venturing out of the small world of your dorm closet seems unlikely. But a single trip to the Gap at Pyramid Mall can fetch you a rustic jean jacket and pants for $109 total. You can wear any solid colored T-shirt and beat up sneakers (preferably red Converse high tops or Diesel slip-ons) you have lying around on the floor to finish up this stylishly shabby look, all for a fifth of the high-brow brand’s price.

Denim will be the best and most convenient investment you’ll ever make. Age and grime will only enhance the appeal of weathered denim’s soiled sophistication, while you can’t say the same for your mandal-cargo combo. Dirty denim is comfortable, low key, and low maintenance, so perhaps it’s finally time to break the cycle of slippers and shorts and make the plunge into the pool of cool blue indigo.

Archived article by Sherry Jun