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Why Dressing Up for Class Empowers Me

In the hustle bustle of college life, practicality and comfort seem like priority number one. When it comes to throwing on a decent outfit for class, naturally many people reach for the athleisure. Afterall, it’s what’s most comfortable, right? For me, though, I always wondered what to wear to school but I’ve come to a startling conclusion: dressing up is what makes me the most comfortable. And there are some good reasons why. 

A freshman fashion faux pas

Times were simple. I was a little, bright-eyed freshman. My first class, Chem. 1, was a 7:25 am. I wore a cute blue top, ripped jeans, and gold sandals. I had tried on many options the night before, so I was proud of this outfit. When I got to class, I was a little shocked. Everyone was in t-shirts and shorts! I had never seen girls wear t-shirts so big that they looked like a dress. Were they wearing anything underneath? With this new information, I drastically changed what I thought would be my college style. I wore the big t-shirts, shorts, and Nike sneakers just like everyone else. I had bought a new wardrobe for college, but that quickly got sent home to make room for my new t-shirt collection. I was comfortable in class, but I missed the clothes I dreamt of wearing back in high school.

A different type of uniform

From the kindergarten to twelfth grade, I have had to wear a school uniform of some type. For a long time, I had to wear a series of plaid skirts, jumpers, and red polos. Eventually, I got to a school that didn’t have a strict uniform. I had to wear polos, but I had 4 color options! I could also wear jeans! Even with the newfound freedom, I longed to wear the clothes that the high school girls in all the movies could wear. My closet was a sea of boring. College, I thought, would be my chance to break free of the uniforms. Little did I know that most girls, at least at UF, adhere to the oversized t-shirt and athletic short dress code. According to an article from The Guardian, most schools in America have uniforms. Many people enjoy the neutralizing effect these rules have, but shouldn’t college be about finding who you are, even if you’re not like everyone else?

New major, new me

My second semester at UF was a big one. I had switched out of the pre-pharmacy track into history, which is my dream area of study. I was actually excited for the classes I was enrolled in, what a concept! I showed up to my first history class in the “uniform”, only to find that both the girls and the guys in class had all dressed differently. Sure, some stuck to the “uniform”, but there were girls wearing cute jeans, dresses, and even heels. The guy who sat in front of me wore a button-down shirt with parrots on it. I was so excited by the differences I saw. These people weren’t afraid to express who they were, and that inspired a confidence in me that influenced more than just my fashion choices. I started to abandon the t-shirts for the blouses and dresses I had bought the summer before. I was excited to go to class to showcase my look, and that translated into an excitement for the course material. One day, I asked the girl who I saw wearing the heels on the first day why she decided on that footwear choice (we were friendly by this point so it wasn’t weird), and she told me that she wore the heels simply because she liked the heels. Amazing!  Finally, I was rocking the college look I had dreamed about for so many years.

The real reasons to dress up

If you’re thinking about a break from the status quo, here’s some reasons why I like to dress up for class. The first reason is that I wear everything in my closet. How many times have you bought something cute at the store, but left it sitting in your closet with the tags on for months? Since veering away from the “uniform”, all my clothes feel the love, not just the t-shirts and comfy shorts. This has also given me more excuses to go shopping, although it’s debatable on whether or not that’s a plus.

Whenever I walk into class with an outfit that I put time into, I feel so confident! I’m wearing clothes that I’m happy in and that make me feel good, and that’s never a bad thing. As someone who generally lacks self-confidence, my clothes can really step up my game. I’m more likely to raise my hand, ask questions and talk to classmates. I know it sounds silly, but I know this correlation is true for me, and it might be for you too. I like to think that professors appreciate students that go beyond the athleisure look, but I can’t be for certain. I’m reminded of my favorite Kate Spade notebook cover that reads “you can never be overdressed or overeducated”. Once again, Kate Spade speaks the truth.

Once we leave the beautiful bubble that is college, you can’t really get away with a wardrobe of only oversized frat tees. I like to think that I’m practicing for the real world where I’m going to have to be a professional. Granted, the outfits I wear to class aren’t exactly business casual, but they are a step in that direction.


Here are some examples of what I wear to class if you’re looking for some ~inspo~

This is my go-to look! I wear a combination of a comfy, high-waisted short with a cute blouse. These shorts have an elastic waistband, so they’re basically a Nike short but make you seem like you’re trying really hard. What’s better than that?

Check out these pants! They are as soft as my PJ pants but give Audrey Hepburn vibes. I pair these with a basic shirt and some cute flats. They’re breezy, so I can wear them in this Florida heat. 10/10 recommend.

Rompers and dresses are a move. They give the appearance of high fashion, but in reality, you got lazy and picked a piece of clothing that’s the top and bottom in one. I get most of my dresses and rompers that I wear to class from TJ Maxx or Marshalls. They’re cute and cheap, my favorite combo.

If you’re in the mood, try rocking a dressier look to class. It may inspire you more than you think!

Courtney is a freshman majoring in History with a minor in Dance. This is her first semester writing for Her Campus UFL and she's so excited to have this opportunity! Courtney enjoys reading Jane Austen classics, traveling to new places all over the globe, and eating maybe too much Ben and Jerry's ice cream. She's a sister of Delta Nu Zeta, a service sorority on campus, and loves being able to help the community and grow as a proud member of the Gator Nation!
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