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Feeling Insecure in the College Fashion Scene

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

For a time, there was an Instagram account run by someone at my school that would post user-submitted photos of the user’s best outfits. As far as I can tell, being posted on this account was a great honor, because it showed off the wide range of fashion tastes across the student body. It was really wonderful, and for me, it was also a little intimidating.

Emily In Paris/Netflix

Growing up, my fashion sense was whatever clothes my mom had found while she was out shopping. Although I would incorporate some clothes I bought myself in the mix, it wasn’t until I hit college and saw that everybody already seemed to have their own personal style ironed out (no pun intended). Meanwhile, I still was carrying around shirts and shorts from high school, completely unsure of what did or didn’t qualify as ‘cool’. Although I was finally able to start indulging my interest in having my looks match my alternative and goth music tastes, I still felt like I was out of place among my better-dressed peers.

Fashion is one of the most interesting elements of our society, especially here at college. There are countless articles across the internet keeping track of college fashion trends for the upcoming season, and TikTok microtrends and SHEIN hauls have made having a certain kind of style easier than ever, with some frightening environmental costs. With all of this combined though, this creates a constantly shifting fashion scene on college campuses that I, and I’m sure many others, might not always know how to fit into. For every day I have enough energy to dress alternative are the days that I run to class with the same T-shirt I slept in and gray sweatpants, while I sit among my peers with impeccable eyeliner and outfits that match their skin undertones. 

There’s a maxim of “dress for success” that I hear constantly from my professors; that you should show up to class in clothing that makes you feel ready to focus. But honestly, it’s still college. It can be fun to put on a great outfit to walk to class in, but some days it’s so much easier to throw on a sweater and forgo the mascara. It’s hard not to compare my outfit of the day to those of my peers who have an impeccable outfit, but I’ve come to realize that maybe this is the first day in a while they’ve been able to put on an outfit they feel great in too. College fashion isn’t a competition after all; it’s all about putting on what helps you face the day, no matter what kind of day that is.

Evelyn Homan

UC Riverside '24

Hiya! I'm Evelyn, and I'm a fourth-year English & Creative Writing double major, as well as an Honors student researching independent studying in the 21st century. I love literature, midwest emo and goth rock, alternative fashion, and talking. A lot.