07 Feb The Outliers
The Queen’s Uniform: though it’s not a written rule, we can all picture it—Blundstones, mom jeans, pixie coat—or some variation of that involving sweats and white sneakers. This is not intended to be a critique of the easy, laid-back student style many of us enjoy; but an observation of the existing social norms on campus.
The homogeneity of self-expression on campus is a running joke among students, but how do they really feel about it? I spoke to some individuals who defy this ‘uniform’ about their take.
This student wears a crimson felt coat with leather boots—she certainly stood out from the sea of greyscale. “I feel like people want to dress differently… like we’re so conditioned to dress a certain way, to fit in I guess,” she explained. “If people stare, they stare—you’re never going to see them anyways. If it makes you happy to wear it, then wear it.” She glowed as she spoke about her passion for self- expression, saying that “(her) outfit pre-sets (her) mood for the day”.
“If I love my outfit, I’ll take stronger steps in my life.”
This student enhances her outfit with a textured bodysuit, her grandma’s blazer from the 70s, neon nails and a bright lip. When asked about the uniformity on campus, this student expressed that she makes a conscious effort to have her own look. “While I do wear baggy mom jeans with Doc martens, I always think… let’s wear a cool bodysuit with it, something to make it my own.”
Up-and coming makeup artist Adam Oaknine deeply values feeling free to express himself around campus. “I thrift everything I wear,” he explains, “I’m wearing this thrifted jacket with a pair of my dad’s jeans—I tend to wear my dad’s jeans because I like the baggier fit. I’m wearing Blundstones because it’s cold and they’re easy.” When asked about the uniformity around him, Adam said that people should dress however they feel comfortable. For some that may be blending in, but he finds comfort in standing out.
“The devil’s in the details. I always add some chains and sh*t that will make it cool.”
This Commerce exchange student from Paris had much to say about his observations of style on campus. “I think everyone dressing the same is kind of boring. I have a personality that is different from yours… everyone is different. I think you need to express that in your clothing,” he expressed, “My way of dressing… this is kind of my personality.” When asked if he believes that individuals dressing the same has a negative impact on a community, his response was that “It’s for belonging. This is good, but I think it’s also good to stand out and show your personality.”
My personal perspective is that the ‘uniform’ is by no means an issue. A positive aspect about this style is its accessibility. It is not brand or logo-centric, and is attainable from almost all socioeconomic backgrounds. The uniform is a one-way ticket to appearing to blend in, which is important and comforting for some people. The luxury of a formulaic, no-brainer style that always just works is perfect for student life. A few staple items empower you to easily look put-together and go seize the day.
The people who wear ‘basic’ outfits do not lack self-expression. Some people express themselves through their clothing, but that is just one mode of showing who you are. Consider the idea that varying languages of self-expression are all equally valid—whether someone chooses to blend in or to stand out, they’re all a part of the mosaic of self-expression on campus.
All Images by Adam Gordon on film.