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I spent 4 years at a highschool with a population of roughly 6,000 students. Therefore, I graduated alongside 1,500 seniors. At DePauw University, the entire student body is approximately 2,000 people. The entire student population at DePauw is nearly the same size as just 1 class at my high school. I knew this fact prior to accepting my academic decision at this university. However, I did not process the effects of fashion and style that plays into such a small school.

I am happy to say that I found my own personal style during my junior year of highschool. I describe this look as a mix of granola and street style. This is relatively a simple look, however, some items that I have thrifted are very bold and vibrant, making my style much more unique than most. I walked my highschool hallways with confidence like no other. I was very proud of my “new look”. 

However, being a freshman at a brand new school brings back the social anxiety that I was able to grow out of when I once found my style. My brain wanders with thoughts of “is this too much?” or “I need to look normal.” I find myself back in the place I was during my beginning years of highschool, worried about what I should wear that day and what people will think about me. I cycled back to tossing my clothes all over my dorm room floor and panicking on what necklace to wear that day. 

This strongly displays the high importance that style can have for students in this generation. This leads to the question I keep asking myself, “how do I dress how I want without being scared of judgment?”. Although I cannot answer this question perfectly, as it is a struggle I am still working through, I can put myself back into my junior year shoes, and remember how I walked that runway with no care in the world.

  1. Everyone is worried about how they look, not how their peers look

As you are walking down the paths throughout campus, looking down at your shoes or panicking when you pass people, you must be scared about your outfit. However, so is everyone else. Social anxiety is a common behavior amongst young adults, and the style pressure makes this skyrocket. You are not alone. No one really cares as much as you think. 

  1. If you think your outfit is cool, most likely, others will too

Everyone is in love with an awesome thrift find or a once in a lifetime grab. It’s amazing to have a shirt that not many people own themselves. If an outfit is noticeable from far away or attracts the eye more than other outfits near you, that isn’t a bad thing at all. It is a good thing to have an outfit that people compliment, or gives yourself bragging rights. Own the cool new look.

  1. “Basic” is okay

If steps 1 and 2 are too scary for you, and if you are not ready to reach that side of your style just yet, then that is still acceptable. The term “basic” has become a popular phrase, and often in a negative, frowned upon way. However, you can own a simple outfit just as much as someone can own a unique outfit. You should have confidence in an outfit no matter what the style is.

  1. Dressing down is acceptable

If you wake up and it’s just not the day to dress up for yourself, and all you want to do is wear some comfy sweatpants, then go for it. Every college student has these kinds of days, especially during the winter time in a cold state like Indiana. This genre of an outfit is totally acceptable, and again, everyone is caring about what they are wearing, not you. You can still display confidence while being comfortable. 

  1. Find friends who you don’t feel a need to “fit in” with

Colleges, especially private liberal arts schools like DePauw, gather students from all across the globe. This entails different kinds of clothing from every direction you look. You will have friends who might dress completely opposite from yourself. It might take awhile to get to the inner self acceptance to appreciate what you are wearing while also appreciating what they are wearing. However, if they are true friends, they will love you no matter what is on your body. 

Hey! I am a first-year student on the path towards and English writing major:)