I wake up, put either my Danny Gokey glasses or contacts on and figure out what to wear.
Sounds like an average day, right?
As a guy, I know the process of getting ready and choosing clothing is usually expected to be simple, but I’d like to talk about the culture of clothing that men follow at our school to try to fit in.
I attended a public high school where the dress code enforced made it easy to select clothing for the day. Just pick out one of four polo shirt colors and match them with either blue, black or tan khakis.
I suppose some people saw the process as simple and robotic. I considered it to be an efficient way of choosing what to wear.
That being said, I couldn’t wait for the day I would graduate and gain the freedom to wear whatever I wanted. When I entered my junior year at Lehigh, however, I began noticing how my days of seeing polo shirts and khakis in high school had transitioned into boat shoes and Patagonia t-shirts in college.
We should feel free to express ourselves individually in college, but it’s so clear that we wish to fit in with what everybody else is wearing.
I’m not one to judge others on their fashion. I truly believe in “to each their own” when it comes to clothing. I just can’t help but question the obvious trends in fashion that exist here at Lehigh.
A friend summed it up perfectly while visiting: “Everyone here looks the same.”
“No, that’s not true,” I said back, feeling defensive of my school. I tried to cite the differences in my friends’ stylistic choices, but then I thought of Lehigh on a macro level.
I realized how right she was. Take a walk around campus throughout the day and you’ll see Patagonia, Vineyard Vines, pastel shorts and boat shoes dominating the male bodies in your field of sight.
I have no personal issues with these brands, but the trend in clothing is very telling of the type of campus we live on. People like to follow others because they want to fit in.
I admit, you can catch me wearing collared shirts or a sports jersey from time to time. It all depends on what I feel like wearing — my individuality is in my control.
Just like I do, everybody has their moments of wanting to try to please others.
I was once tempted to give in to our fashion culture. I went to the store in pursuit of boat shoes and pastel shorts. When I bought them, I had an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I wouldn’t have gotten from any other type of clothing.
Looking back on that day, it’s easy to see the clothing I got wasn’t any better than other types — I just thought it would make me look like everyone else.
After wearing the clothes for a day, I put them aside. I didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like me.
I knew the only reason I bought these clothes was because I thought they were the key to looking like a true Lehigh student. If you’re a student who isn’t used to the “typical” style, it’s quite easy to feel like an outcast from the moment you step on campus.
I remember my first visit to Lehigh, wondering if I would be able to fit into a place where everyone seemed to know what to wear. It seemed like everyone was wearing a certain type of style that I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing myself.
Let’s face it: humans like to fit in. We notice when there are differences among us, and that quality translates over to Lehigh.
Maybe dressing the same has to do with society telling us we need to be just like everyone else. I challenge everyone to push against that and express themselves through their own style.
So I’ll continue to wear my old t-shirts. My oversized jeans. My beat-up Chuck Taylors. I’ll wear them every day because they’re what I like. I honestly don’t care about the trends.
I might not be the most fashionable person out there, but at least I wear what makes me an individual.
Jean-Pierre Villamar, ’19, is an assistant sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.