September 6, 2012

Fashion Friday: The Paradox of Dressing Down

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A few weeks back, in my column “Fashion Friday: A City Girl’s Upstate Culture Shock,” I expressed wonderment at all of the Cornell gear I spotted on the quad and around campus. “What are those comfortable, non-form-fitting uniforms everyone seems to be donning? Sweatpants? It’s a miracle!” I’d thought to myself. However, now that classes are in full swing, I see the trend of sneakers and gym clothes dominating the fashion scene. And, inside I always wonder: Are my classmates really going to the gym (because, I mean, you can tell if they already have)?

I know such a question sounds dumb. Of course they are! Why else would they be sporting a “Just Do It” (Checkmark!) Tee, spandex shorts and Reeboks? Well, I praised my floormate the other day for her cute outfit and dedication to exercise amidst the busy academic schedule that had already begun. She looked confused, then, with an awkward laugh, replied, “I just like to wear gym clothes to be comfortable.” Awkward pause, fake laugh, end of conversation (and my attempts to have a casual exchange with anyone, ever).

This conversation made me question my own fashion choices. I do not feel the need to consult a stylist for class as I might have at NYU. But I still find myself dressing nicely, putting together outfits and dipping into trends, even for a day of classes. Sometimes I feel silly next to a girl wearing workout gear. Do I overdress? Am I putting in too much effort for a day on campus? However, I find that I feel more alert when I am put together, as if my mental state seeks to mimic my appearance. I don’t think this is shallow, necessarily; I have a logic to my vanity. I wear sweatpants to bed, so anytime I oversleep, shuffle to class still in my comfy clothing, I have unexpected difficulty distinguishing between my bed and the hard wood desk chair.

Additionally, I love to make a connection with my professor in small classes. If I wore clothes purely for comfort, I would not be putting forth an accurate image of myself. I like clothes! I like experimenting with fashion and feeling good about what I’m wearing. And if my fellow classmates like sneakers, or Nike warm-up gear, I say great for them, whether they are going to the gym or not. I live five feet from Noyes and avoid it at all costs, so no judgement there.

I do not take back my appreciation of Cornell gear and the comfy campus style. And if you see me in a sweatshirt or leggings in a Uris lecture hall, don’t be surprised. However, I’ve found that my inner comfort comes from a little style and effort, even if it means forgoing an extra half hour of sleep each morning (I invested in a personal coffee pot prior to the school year).

Original Author: Meghan Flynn