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New England Campus Style: Old with the New



Imagine yourself on a New England Campus on a random day of the school year.  What could you expect of the outfits from students?  The New England campus style is largely defined by the old school Ivy look that used to portray a certain class of society.  However, their old money prep style has trickled down over the years as campuses are becoming more diverse and international.  This article explores the various styles at Mount Holyoke that reflects the old school norm of a New England campus.

Certain items of clothing are more prominent than others.  Because New England is generally cold in the winters and cool in the summers, layers are always a necessity.  Cardigans and cable knits are the main staples of any New Englander in all year-round seasons.  Often in colder weathers sweaters are layered with blazers, most commonly tweed or herringbone with leather elbow patches.  This was once a men’s style, but it has been adopted as clothes and styles have become unisex over the years.  In the olden days, colleges required formal attires for class attendance, which includes a conservative-length skirt with a solid color blouse and a jacket for ladies and khakis, white dress shirt and a navy blue or black blazer for gentlemen.  This was known was a prep-school outfit since students who attended preparatory colleges (aka private schools or boarding schools) were required to wear them as uniforms.  Most blazers and jackets have emblems of college logos or seals in uniforms while others had pins and patches.

Shoes are also reflective of a New England campus even though the variety now is clearly larger than the uniform school days.  It actually ranges from campus to campus and surprisingly, with the progressive and diverse student bodies of New England campuses, the ‘prep-style’ for shoes not as commonly observed as smaller liberal arts colleges in the South (think the Carolinas for example).  But the classic New England footwear is leather boots, boat shoes, loafers, and or oxfords.  There are certain brands that are associated largely with New England campus shoes, such as the classic L.L. Bean, Sperry Top-Siders, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren.  However, with a growing variety, there are other commonly worn types of shoes including flats and flip-flops.  Oh, and of course, who could forget the argyle socks.

Accessories are commonly reserved for women, since men do not often wear jewelry (but they do wear bow ties!).  The classic go-to piece for an old-school New England woman is pearls.  Whether it’s pearl earrings or pearl necklace, pearls complete any outfit and its versatile enough to wear on all occasions.  However, the modern New England women are finding more creative ways to their wardrobe with items that represent their love for the small New England town culture, such as braided bracelets and rope or ribbon belts.  (Speaking of accessories that represent the New England culture, Kiel James Patrick accessories are now available at Brooks Brothers.)

The most common item of clothing that represent the New England campus culture is clearly defined by polo shirts and oxford shirts – often candy-stripped.  This style was derived from the formal button down shirts required as a part of their uniform.  They are easy to pair with any bottoms and layer with sweaters and jackets.  They are also flexible for year-round weather and they will never go out of style since they are considered classics.  Just like other classic New England looks and good quality items, they do have a higher price range, but they also last longer than clothes that easily go out of style or are seasonal.

Though New England campuses held a stereotype of preppy and enclosed with wealthy students from old-school wealthy families, but that is no longer the case today.  New England liberal arts colleges are the most progressive schools in the nation with the highest rates of diversity, acceptance, and tolerance of many different kinds of people.  This fusion between old-school style and the new modern cultures from around the world creates a unique blend of outfits that reflect a new twist to the old norms.

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Sin Than

Mt Holyoke

Hello!!I'm Phyu-Sin, co-EIC of Her Campus Mt. Holyoke. Come to me with any concerns, questions, or comments, and my doors will always be open to you.
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