The state of fashion at our beloved institution is truly dire. From the viewpoint of an old Etonian who had the pleasure of wearing a tailored suit to classes for 5 years, I am downright horrified by the way many Cornellians dress.
Ladies, your daily ensemble of Ugg boots and Cornell sweatpants (or god forbid, leggings au naturele) and the closest T-shirt within waking-up-and-grabbing distance does you absolutely no favors whatsoever. Sure, I get that it’s comfortable, but do you understand that you look like a shapeless potato in that North Face puffer? You’re certainly not going to win the attention of cute Statler guy looking like that. He's too busy fawning over the girl in Dior and six-inch Louboutins.
Freddy '12 shows us how and how not to do it.
For so many Cornellians, including guys, the standard uniform can be summarized as: baggy, formless, loose-fitting, sportswear. You don’t need a Cornell degree to understand why sportswear is called sportswear, so unless you’re actually playing sports, don’t even think about wearing it.
Too many of us dress out of convenience, without any regard to color, to materiality or most importantly, to fit. Why? It’s not a question of money, since, as long as you have a sense of style, you can look just as dapper in Zara as in Haider Ackermann fresh off the runway. Maybe it’s a case of sheer laziness, or maybe it’s because we’re rarely taught the importance of personal appearance and style. Certainly, many of us overlook or dismiss style simply because we have had very little exposure to it, and therefore deem it unnecessary.
And that’s exactly where we’re wrong.
It is important to understand that style and fashion are very different concepts. The legendary Yves Saint Laurent succinctly decreed: “fashions fade; style is eternal.” Style is what many Europeans have and what virtually all Americans (should) want to have. Europeans – especially the French and the Italians – usually look gorgeous in whatever they wear, whenever they wear it, and however they wear it. There are of course a handful of American men and women who can tell their Gucci from their Prada, but the sad truth is that the vast majority simply couldn't care less about their appearance.
Others claim that they don’t want the attention that comes with being well dressed. But having style has very little to do with seeking attention. Of course beautiful people will get attention - that goes without saying. It is the fashionistas, those hopelessly devoted fangirls of John Galliano et al., who make us perceive the world of fashion as just an expensive hobby for spoilt socialites that try way too hard to get the paparazzi’s attention.
But style is more essential than superficial. Style defines your identity, your character, your very being.
The single biggest argument for paying attention to the way you dress is to nail the all-important first impression. On a first date, your physical appearance will convey more about your character to your crush in a single instant than you could possibly hope to express in words. With one quick look-over, he will immediately stick a label on you - preppy, hipster, goth, emo, geeky, vintage, military, etc. - and pass judgment.
Each of these styles is derived by how you are perceived by society, whether you like it or not. An '12 believes that women are just as critical as men when it comes to appearance: “If on a first date the guy shows up in sweats and flip-flops while I'm wearing a nice top and skirt, I instantly think 'game over.' I wouldn't go on a second date with him even if he's the nicest guy on the planet." So if you want to avoid making the wrong first impression, then you will have to seriously consider your sartorial decisions.
The best case is that your outfit is so well put together that it takes elements from all styles but at the same time transcends them in a unique way. If you happen to fall in this category, then congratulations, you’ve got style.
The worst case is not being able to identify with a single style, and looking utterly generic - these are the shapeless potatoes whose faces you won’t remember, who will quietly pass their lives unnoticed. If you find yourself stuck here, then don’t give up, but think about asking your well-dressed friends for guidance. Trust me when I say that we will be more than willing to guide you.
Style is not something that you are born with. “You can’t buy style [either],” notes Arturo ’14. “You just have to experiment and figure out what works for you, or get someone to help you figure it out.”
So unless you came out from the womb wearing an Armani cocktail dress and Ferragamo stilettos, you most certainly had to learn how to dress from someone, likely a parent who made your style decisions until you were old enough to make your own. Maybe you curiously flipped through Vogue or GQ for sartorial ideas; maybe you turned to celebrity idols or favorite bands for inspiration. But most of us just got used to wearing the same kinds of clothes that our parents made us wear as children through high school, and even now, through college.
I’m not suggesting that you should pay more attention to your wardrobe than to your physics professor, but now that you’re (striving to be) a responsible adult, it’s about time you looked the part. That’s certainly not going to happen if you keep letting your parents dress you. Since your parents had better things to do than play dress up with you, the clothes they put you in were mostly chosen for convenience rather than aesthetics. Parents deliberately go for clothing several sizes too large for their children so that they can grow into them. They deliberately choose loose-fitting clothing because children are highly active and will easily tear anything that fits too snugly. So, unless your intention is to look like a still-growing preteen, then it’s time to woman up and learn how to dress like the lady you are more than capable of being, and not the little girl who still lives with Mommy and Daddy. You’re more than old enough to put on your own pants, so for God’s sake have a little imagination - and have a little fun with doing so!
If you don’t want to dress up for your own sake, then at the very least consider this: there’s nothing men find less attractive in a woman than a lack of personality and self-confidence. A well-dressed woman simply oozes confidence; she knows that she is beautiful and she isn’t afraid to show it.
And from a woman’s point of view - Coco Chanel herself decreed that “a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” The step up from little girl to classy woman isn’t as large as you think. All it takes is a little curiosity, a touch of confidence, and the right
brands friends to lead the way.