“Hip Hop, Country, and the State of College Fashion”

Posted in Uncategorized by The Books Production Team on January 9, 2009

typewriter            As a professor who believes there is much gold to be mined from all musical genres (with the possible exception of speed metal), I’m amazed by students who bizarrely claim to listen to only hip-hop and country.  How is it humanly possible, inside this strange dichotomy of Kenny Chesney and Snoop records, to grab the variety of emotive strains necessary to match a complex life? 

            What’s worse, these two genres occasionally attempt to mesh, and America’s airwaves are flooded with Tim McGraw bemoaning to Nelly that “it’s all in my head.”  I’m just thankful the public wasn’t subjected to an entire CMT crossroads session pairing these two – and we didn’t have to experience this ill-paired tandem “over and over again.”

            Yet, as I was preparing to write this article about the state of college fashion (which must be located between the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma), I kept returning to a vision of the world where all taste selections were made from a similarly limited pool of material.  After all, this must be the case for most of my students, who seldom adopt anything other than clothing from one of the two weirdly disparate trends that currently dominate campus fashion. 

            On one hand, before 12:00, most female students wear a huge sorority-emblazed hooded sweatshirt with either pajama pants or tights and UGG boots.  On the other hand, after 12:00, most girls I see are dressed in revealing clothing appropriate for the club.  And occasionally, because I happen to teach a class that meets MWF at exactly 12:00, I’ll see students wearing some WTF-provoking combination of the two – which is basically analogous to that Nelly and Tim McGraw duet.

            This makes me wonder: Has Bloomingdale’s instituted a policy barring associates from selling footwear other than UGG boots or stiletto heels to undergraduates?  Has Macy’s decided that tights, as opposed to pants, are now an appropriate form of outerwear?  And finally, have Target and J. Crew recently closed, limiting school-shopping forevermore to Forever 21?  If any of these three things has happened, then disregard what I’m about to say; otherwise, my recommendation is that you buy some normal clothes and start wearing them to class. 

            Just as there is no excuse to listen exclusively to country and hip-hop, there is no excuse to wear pajama pants to class, and no reason to wear a “going out” top at 3:00 PM – unless your school is surrounded by a satellite of afternoon, underground hip-hop clubs. 

            Students often defend the collegiate experience by arguing it’s a preparation ground for the adult-world.  Yet, when it comes to clothing, this maxim is seldom followed.  At no point in your future will it be appropriate to wear tights (without a skirt) to the office (unless business casual reaches a whole new level of laxity), nor will you be allowed to display your navel during a video conference call.  If college is a training ground for life, then going to class is your job – and you need to dress the part. 

            Now, I’m not advising you start wearing power-suits to class (although I once had a ridiculous student who did this – I called him “Suit Dave”), but you should think about purchasing (and wearing) a couple of pairs of jeans, a sweater or two, and a pair of Puma sneakers.  Consider these clothing items roughly equivalent to The White Stripes, The Decemberists, and Bright Eyes – meaning they’re totally appropriate for the 12:00 hour.     


NOTE: The above article will appear in the forthcoming January 2009 issue of College Magazine.


2 Responses

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  1. Laura said, on January 11, 2009 at 3:27 am

    I once heard a girl at who was trying on a pair of Uggs say, “Do you think these make my feet look big?” um….yes….they are giant canvas blobs attached your legs.

    The fashion choices the majority of college students make have concerned me for most of my life, especially now that I am literally a student of fashion. Unfortunately, I feel that for a lot of collegiate women, conformity is a way for them to feel as though they belong. College can be such an isolating experience and for someone who does not have a strong sense of self, blending in could be an easy way to feel more comfortable in a strange new environment. (Not that I am justifying the wearing of hot clubbin’ tops or Ugg boots or the homogenous nature of the collegiate experience.)

    Yet, I couldn’t help but notice this article really only mentioned the state of mainstream collegiate women’s wear. While Forever 21 makes me nervous and I think leggings are for runners, but the average dude or bro is not exactly on any best dressed lists.

  2. Lara (not Croft) said, on January 21, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Dr. Wizard,
    When I packed my suitcase to study abroad in Ireland this semester, I included “a couple of pairs of jeans, a sweater or two, and a pair of Puma sneakers” along with rain boots and my pea coat. That’s about all. Wouldn’t you know, even across the ocean I find myself surrounded by ugg-boots-and-tights-wearing undergrad women who make me feel rather frumpy in my jeans and sweater. But it was a breath of fresh air reading your post and for once feeling encouraged to dress for the weather and for class. Crazy. Thanks for the post.
    Also, I agree with Laura. I have to say this isn’t a female issue so much as an undergrad issue.

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