I quickly learned that the Keene community was not as style-conscious as the Fairfield, Connecticut community I grew up in. I began to feel uncomfortable wearing certain outfits at school. On the weekends, my friends would nag me to wear “going out clothes” that were tight and revealing.
As a junior, I no longer feel uncomfortable wearing whatever I want whenever I want, but I still sometimes find it hard to wear fashionable clothing just because I don’t have enough time in the morning.
My friends have also expressed not feeling entirely comfortable wearing fashionable clothes because they feel out of place in a sea of sweatpants and sweatshirts.
Perhaps this is simply due to the demographics of Keene and of New Hampshire in general. New Hampshire definitely holds a stigma of being a laid-back state, especially due to the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die.” Other states in the Northeast do not hold this stigma as consistently as New Hampshire seems to. Connecticut, for example, is much closer to New York City, which may be why fashion is so much more prominent there. Fairfield, in particular, is only a 60 minute train ride from NYC.
Another reason why fashion may be more prominent in places like Connecticut could very well be due to the affluence of the demographic compared to that of New Hampshire. The businesses in Connecticut cater to the affluent present in their state. If these same businesses tried to make a home in New Hampshire, they would probably not be as successful. It is not to say that New Hampshire is not successful, it is just not as densely populated or as close in location to well-known cities as other states.
Still, people come to Keene State College from all over, so I wonder if more students from prosperous cities and towns also find it difficult to dress how they would at home. At the same time, it is important to note that one does not have to be wealthy to dress well. Many of my friends, even those who are from Connecticut, find some of their favorite clothes from consignment shops and places like Goodwill. I know that Keene has a few consignment shops and a Salvation Army, but, I wonder, how many students actually shop at these places?
I think another main reason why Keene does not seem as fashion-forward as some other areas is not necessarily because the students aren’t fashionable, but just because they do not have the time or energy to put into fashion. This makes me wonder how students who go to “fashion-forward” schools do have the time and energy to put into their external identity.
Annie McCaffrey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org