Fashion is a universal concept, but there is definitely something unique about this place, and the common joke of the “CC Bubble” contains a certain level of truth when applied to fashion (or lack thereof) here; something about the way students dress must be reflective of the ideology of our small culture within these few blocks of campus.
Over the course of this block, I will be investigating fashion on the Colorado College campus, and the various means by which students choose to express themselves, and what they consider to be worth expressing.
After only one block at CC, Winter Start Chase Brown was quick to note, “there are very distinct styles here,” and I cannot help but ask why. At my breakfast table this morning sat a pair of brightly colored pajama pants, a purple oxford button-down, multiple sock-and-sandals, un-brushed hair, and an outfit that could have come out of a fashion magazine, and that was totally normal. As quickly as we can write it off, how people dress—how people choose to present themselves—is an essential part of a community.
So what does what we wear say about who we are? In a place with more color blocking than not, leather sandals in all seasons, and a disproportionate amount of nose rings per capita, it is apparent that this is a self-perpetuating environment of strong personalities within a community that emphasizes individual expression.
“This school definitely attracts a certain type of person,” laughs Brice Tucker ’18, “but there is definitely a transition in the way people dress within the first few weeks of getting here.” Tucker compares some students to looking as if they came “straight out of Woodstock.” While observing the strange paradox of some students trying to look like they didn’t try, he was quick to add, “yet I sometimes will leave my room and look at myself in the mirror later in the day and gasp.” Impetus behind one’s first purchase of Birkenstocks aside, I think it is safe to say that there is a lack of expectation in the way one is “supposed” to look here, and a lack of judgmental community. If rolling out of bed before class somehow fits into the “CC stereotype,” then that is more than fine by me. With no expectation for how our peers look, you do not have to dress for an audience.
There are no standards of dress here, and if you wake up feeling like wearing all orange because you feel like or want to feel like the color orange that day, no one will give it a second thought.
Some people dress because unfortunately it is socially unacceptable not to, and some may use the clothes they see their peers in in order to try fit into the environment around them, but when it comes down to it, fashion can be a form of art and storytelling if you let it.
When asked how she gets dressed in the morning, first year Maggie O’Brien responded as though each morning is an opportunity to create art, “[I love] piecing different things together to create character, and usually [think] about color and shape.” In her wooden jewelry and various tones of red, Maggie compared everything on her body to “stories and where [she’s] been,” reflecting on her experiences wearing certain clothes to various people and places in her life.
And so on the sidewalk on your way to breakfast, you may pass Maggie wearing articles of clothing from her semester in Nepal, or a pajama-zombie, or another Patagonia fleece, but there is nothing that anyone could wear that would be “wrong” here.
Here, there is not a standard of beauty, nor a standard of perfection, but rather a standard of self. Next week, I will be delving further into how CC students project themselves as individuals, either on a personal level or through a campus-wide trend, and why that matters so much.