Sweatpants vs Jeans: What’s the Point of Looking “Good” in College?

As a freshman in college, I am learning the status quo of life after high school. In high school, we would always joke about the first three weeks of the year being the time when our lip gloss is popping and we stunt our best outfits that we purchased over summer. After those three weeks, it's back to leggings and ponytails. College on the other hand, is a whole other story. In the beginning of college, I found myself loving putting makeup on and creating different outfits. However, that quickly faded away as the high school joke became my reality. Nowadays, I find myself getting “ready” (a.k.a. not leggings, sweats, sweatshirts, low ponytails, and slides) probably once to twice a week. That means less than 30% of the time I'm in a nice outfit, maybe wearing some light makeup, and some sort of braided hairstyle- nothing outrageous.

Before I go into why I do enjoy getting ready every now and then, I'm going to get into the plentiful reasons why I do NOT get ready as much as I did the last 18 years of my life. The main reason is due to how funky my schedule is as a college student. In high school, it’s the same 7am-2pm schedule Monday-Friday. There’s routine and structure in every day. Somedays in college, I have class at 8am but other days I don’t have any class until 12pm. Then, there's also the deciding factor whether to go to the gym and when that will happen. Gym days/times lead to having to plan my outfits and showering schedule accordingly. So if I have a morning class, maybe I want to wake up and put on a cute fit before then. But if I’m going to the gym afterwards, what’s the point- I might as well go to the class in my workout clothes. Don’t even get me started on what type of class it is. If I have painting for 4 hours in the morning, why would I put on a nice outfit just to get paint on it? If I have lab midday and I put some shorts and sandals on in the morning, guess what? I gotta change into pants and tennis shoes before lab begins to prevent a toxic chemical burn! I eventually find myself wearing 2-4 outfits a day.

The next reason to not get ready is that I don’t have anyone to impress. Yes, I know I should only get dressed up for myself, but still. In high school, I would often get ready because I am seeing over 1000 people, some of which are my best friends and boyfriend. Nowadays, I can go a whole day with seeing only 50 people (at most) in classes. My boyfriend doesn’t go to my school and my roommates are on the same page as me. While I’d like to say I only get ready for myself to feel confident and cute, I would be lying. A compliment is nice every once in a while. Plus, if everyone else is in sweatshirts and joggers, why would I want to wear a romper, cardigan, and sandals and stick out like a sore thumb? The mass majority of my peers are always in comfy casual clothes and it just seems fitting to keep that same standard for myself.

The third reason is of course the comfort and convenience. I can chose to sleep in and throw some sweatpants and a t-shirt on rather than waking up early to get glam. There’s an unspoken attitude of college students: we don’t give a **** for lack of a better phrase. The fact that my peers don’t care about what I think of them or their clothes makes me feel empowered to do the same. After all, I’d much rather judge someone on their words, actions, and intelligence than what they put on this morning.

The last reason is due to time. I have goals for my days: go to class, eat 2-3 meals, finish my homework, shower, workout at the gym, get 6 or more hours of sleep, etc. I only get so much “me time” everyday and that extra bit of time can be used to cook, clean, do laundry, read, do yoga, journal, or hang out with friends. I always end up sacrificing something else when I choose to get ready.

While this article shows a lot of bias towards the “lazy” lifestyle, I really do enjoy getting ready every now and again. For one, I do feel more confident wearing my favorite boyfriend jeans and some cute glitter eyeliner. I find that when I get ready, I feel more excited about my day and I want to continue my productivity. I want to post a selfie and walk with more pep in my step. One of the main reasons I found myself getting ready once a week in college was to “fake it until I make it.” On the days I am the most stressed, insecure, busy, or lacking motivation, I would force myself to throw on a dress and some hoop earrings and highlight and go on with my day. It would raise my confidence and outlook on the day and change the tone. I essentially pretend by showing I am fine on the outside until I magically feel better on the inside. It sounds silly and weird, but it has worked for me. Also, if I get ready, I find myself being more alert and lively in my classes. My stage presence in debate class was always stronger when I was a little dressed up. Getting ready makes me more self aware and connected to my body whereas if I am in sweats, I am not really present in my physical body.

If I am picking between jeans or sweatpants, it seems that I will usually choose the latter for many reasons. It’s always nice to throw on a skirt, crop top, and contour for a fun twist, but don’t get used to it because tomorrow, I’ll be wearing a messy bun and yoga clothes. The college lifestyle prevails no matter what I wear.