When you live, work, and play with people you start to act a little bit like them. Personally, before I came to college I had never even considered wearing a pair of leggings. I came from a small Catholic girls’ school to college with a suitcase full of Ralph Lauren polo shirts among other things I would never wear today. I cringe to think about those clothes. But slowly my friends began to influence my clothing style, and one of the changes they instigated was me purchasing my first pair of leggings. But as we all begin to influence each other, it makes some trends stick around a little longer than they should (and some disappear very quickly).
At my school, Cornell University, I’ve noticed some of the most popular trends are skinny jeans, leggings, Uggs, and v-necks. But college women from all over the country—schools from SMU to Hofstra, Mount Holyoke to Colorado State—were polled about the trends they see at their schools.
Most people polled noticed that skinny jeans are prevalent on their campuses, but love the trend, and have no interest in any other jeans becoming the new favored style (could you imagine if super-flared jeans became the “It” jeans again? Ah!). The trend seems to have stuck because the jeans are tight around the ankle, flattering, and look great with almost every type of shoes from boots to ballet flats. The style is sexy and slimming (plus very often skinny jeans come with more elastic than regular jeans, making them more comfortable).
Uggs are a more divided issue. Almost every single woman polled noticed that Uggs are still popular on campus and about 25% of those who noticed they were still popular think they need to go; about 25% love the warm boots and think they go with everything; and nearly 50% think they’re okay with the right outfit and the right occasion. It’s really no wonder these are still popular at schools where the temperature frequently dips below that dreaded 32 degrees. The sheepskin, shapeless shoes that come in every color from grey to purple at a variety of heights, are a perfect shoe to lazily slip on as you run to class. Somehow it has become ingrained in our minds that these ugg-ly shoes are actually cute.
As far as leggings go, every single person polled noticed leggings on campus. In some occasions it was only a select group of girls wearing them at their school, but the majority of polled students see them everywhere and think they are fine on occasion. Some girls dramatically think these should never be worn, while some (like my roommate, who wears them everyday) think leggings are always amazing. Despite the bad rep leggings frequently get (leggings as pants anyone?) these have stuck around on campuses for so long because they’re comfy when you dress them down, and they’re easy when you need to dress up a long, fancier top. Plus let’s not pretend they aren’t a great thing to wear out at night and we need a little more give after drinking than our skinny jeans allow.
Students at schools in the northeast see a lot of American Apparel v-necks, whereas in the south they see far less of them. Most who see them agree they are worn just enough, but some people think they are seen a little too often (I mean there are like 100 colors to choose from…). These cute shirts require next to no matching skills and go with just about every shoe you could think of. Clearly there is some correlation between lasting trends and comfort.
As far as accessories go, many college girls complained about how often they see Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vines (who makes a whole collection of ever-popular clothing down South), and Longchamp bags. One Harvard student complained about the Longchamps citing “they are low quality and not special at all (especially the straps).” The Longchamp Le Pilage tote has probably lasted so long on campus because it appears to be so strong (although some Her Campus readers disagree) with the leather straps. And the endless variety of Vera Bradley bags—in shapes and patterns—can make you feel like you can never have enough… Same argument can be made to the Vineyard Vines totes which offer a ton of patterns to choose from. With all these choices we think we’re being unique, when really it’s all the same!
Shoe trends at many campuses are reportedly Tory Burch flats (yet another trend that comes in a wide variety of colors) and Hunter rain boots. Both shoes can actually be described as fairly practical. Hunter rain boots are sturdy in the treacherous weather (Kate Moss made these popular when she trekked through the Glastonbury Festival mud) and pretty Tory Burch flats make walking from the bar to the party and back to the dorm a little easier. Both of these trends have been seen all over the country.
In warmer climate schools, one unique outfit is cowboy boots matched with sundresses—these have been seen all over campuses! The country-inspired ensemble is adorable and can be worn for anything from class to a concert. With a flowery, casual dress you will be instantly boho chic and feminine. Sundresses have always been staples down South, but the trend lies in pairing them with the chunky cowboy boots that change the full effect of the outfit. Plus Taylor Swift loves this pairing and she can’t really do wrong in my book.
North Face jackets and fleeces are reportedly a trend seen way too often. One Syracuse student said, “I understand they're warm, but there are so many other (cuter) options for coats!” Very true! And think of how often these common jackets get accidentally stolen at bars and parties. Maybe if we had something different this wouldn’t be a problem… While a lot of these trends are practical and comfortable, they aren’t exactly the most fashion forward clothes and accessories. These trends have stuck around for a reason, but maybe we should consider eliminating abusing them.
Zephyr Basine of Collegefashion.net talked to Her Campus about persisting trends on college campuses. When I asked her about the trends I always see at my school—leggings, Uggs, Northface, v-necks—Zephyr noted that “people who wear those things every day aren't doing so to make a fashion statement - it's just casual wear to class when you don't care what you look like. That said, I definitely think more people should put thought into what they wear, because the whole Uggs+North Face+leggings-as-pants+Vera Bradley bag thing is boring.” But that’s not to say Zephyr sees no value in some of these very popular trends. “I love skinny jeans, [American Apparel] v-necks, and leggings (when NOT worn as pants), three trends that I think can be made a little more stylish (it's all in how you wear them) and aren't quite as ubiquitous (or boring) as Uggs and North Faces.”
Since a lot of the noted college trends are brand heavy—American Apparel, Vera Bradley, Hunter, Ugg, Tory Burch, etc—Zephyr complained about the lack of originality. “Why wear the same brand and style as everyone else when you have so many cute options? Fashion is about expressing yourself, having fun, and not being afraid to be different.” Zephyr explained. “So wearing the same pair of boots as half your campus doesn't really make sense if you care about fashion and style.” Despite the fact that these trends have been around for awhile, Zephyr noted that for the most part university trends come and go quickly—and these trends just happen to be sticking around now (mostly for their practicality, warmth, and comfort). “In my experience, trends come and go FAST on college campuses.
Fashion is constantly changing and evolving, and at [my website] College Fashion, we feature new trends every week. Many of our readers love to have fun with the trends, which is made easier by "fast fashion" retailers like Forever 21 and H&M, where you can afford to pick up a different trendy piece every week! So in my experience, at least with our readers at CF, many college students are on the fashion pulse and love to try all the new trends as soon as they pop up.”
Sources Zephyr Basine of CollegeFashion.net Over 50 College women at schools all over the country