Do You Still Need to Look Your Best for B-T-S?
Remember when the end of the summer meant a shopping trip with your mom and a first-day-of-school photo shoot to chronicle the beginning of first/second/third/fourth grade?
Then high school hit, and you took your own initiative to blow your money on the perfect ensemble to make a statement on day one. Freshman year meant something eye-catching enough to grab the attention of a studly senior, whereas by senior year, your wardrobe had to scream, “I’m a senior. I own this school. And I’m f***ing graduating, bitch!”
Now that college is just around the corner, is it time to retire the tradition of back-to-school clothes, or do you simply need to step it up a notch?
On the first day of college, the campus will be filled with tens of thousands of students, frantically trying to change their schedules, pay their financial aid, and find the right classroom in the right building. It was easy to get noticed in high school, when you were one fashionista among only a few hundred, but in college, the people you meet on the first day are most likely to be a nameless, faceless blur who were kind enough to give you irections to the registrar’s office.
If you are thinking about going all out for a first day of school ensemble, ask yourself what your motivation is. Do you want to look professional to impress the teacher? Give yourself a little extra self-confidence to make it through the day? Find a nice college boy to walk you from one class to another? The following are some broad categories of BTS-wear that I have encountered year after year. You might fall into one of these groups, or you may notice a few hundred students who do on the first day of college.
The Kid Who Peaked in High School
You’ll recognize this student by their colorful t-shirt that boldly reads “Washington High School,” or “BHS Seniors 2007.” This person proudly displays their high school colors in college because, well, maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet that they are in college. High school memorabilia is great to keep for sentimental reasons, and your Grad Night t-shirt is probably great to sleep in, but in college it only pinpoints your age, your freshman naiveté, and not-legal-to-drink status.
The Kid Who is Way Too Excited to Be at College
This person made a beeline for the bookstore immediately after stepping foot on campus with parents and parents’ credit cards in tow. You’ll recognize this person by the ensemble completely embellished with the university insignia. You’re bound to see a plethora of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats from the college collection, but this person will be one foam finger short of an early tailgate party. I’m talking track pants, t-shirt, windbreaker, baseball hat, and official backpack. Everyone walks away from college with a few articles of alma mater apparel, but there’s no need to overdo it. On campus, everyone knows where you go to school because, um… you’re already there.
It’s great to dress professionally for class, but on the first day, there are some students who feel the need to bring out the full business suit in hopes of making a good first impression on the professor. If school starts in August, however, you’re going to sweat through that blazer before you’ve even made the half-mile trek from your dorm to your first class. Besides, the first day is just as much a blur for teachers as it is for students. They are met with anywhere from twenty to a few hundred students, many of whom are new faces. Even in intimate classes of twenty, it takes the teacher a few class periods to get names straight. You have the whole semester to prove your worth to the professor, and they will be more interested in the work you produce than the diggs you don on Day 1.
The High-Maintenance Student Going for a Low-Maintenance Look
From afar, this girl looks comfortable in jeans, gauchos, or Juicy sweats and simple tanks or t-shirts, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that she obviously spent hours trying to achieve the “natural” look with five pounds of makeup, and used more product to create “just-rolled-out-of-bed” hair than you used for your senior prom updo. If you’re going for comfy-casual, you negate the ease in which you dressed yourself by spending three hours putting on your face.
The Over-the-Top Trendster
This group is the biggest and most common, because apparently many college students do think the back-to-school tradition should be kept in effect well past the age of eighteen. Since college opens at the tail end of gorgeous summer weather, you’ll find hoards of girls in skimpy skirts, tank/halter/tube tops, and platform sandals or stilleto heels. You’ll also see students proudly showing off the best trends of the summer, no matter how impractical it may be. Case in point: one humid August day, I saw a girl hauling ass across campus in Ugg boots, and immediately patted myself on the back for choosing flip flops that morning. For the first few weeks of school, a large percentage of the student body will put a lot of effort into looking their best in class…until the chilly fall weather sets in, along with midterms, and everyone reverts to jeans, sneakers and hoodies.
By midterms, you’re barely going to have time to eat, sleep, shower, and get trashed, let alone spend hours styling your hair and choosing a cute outfit when you could be studying. By this time, your professors will be aware of your academic prowess, you’ll have an established group of friends, and you’ll realize that you’re far more likely to get hit on at a keg party than a biochem lab. You’ll also discover that books are heavy and campuses are large, so certain clothing is best saved for Saturday night.
Whatever you decide to wear for the first day of college, just remember that the real reason you’re there is to further your education, not turn the student union into a catwalk. So dress for yourself. Whether you want a chic look to boost your own self-confidence, or something practical to get you through a full day of classes in comfort, choose an outfit that is you.