Dress codes. The word often brings back bothersome memories of being chastised by teachers for just barely violating an insignificant rule. Many of us, especially those in private schools, yearned for the days where we could finally have a say in what we could wear; that small amount of freedom that could make our lives so much easier.

This is why when a recent article called “Students Must be Aware of Unwritten Dress Code on Campus” began to criticize what people should and shouldn’t wear, the reaction was not extremely positive to say the least. Some brought up the fact that said writing almost completely brought up girls clothing, and how this is an attack on feminism. Seeing as I am not versed in gender studies, I’ll leave it up to one of the groups on campus to bring up things of that nature. I, on the other hand, would rather bring up why putting pressure on individuals to dress in a certain manner can often cause more conflict than letting people make their own decisions.

The second a person turns 18, they are enabled by law to have a decent say in the way they live their life. The purpose in this is to create a place where people can be able to make their own choices, and as long as they’re not violating any laws, have the freedom to do so without being imprisoned or threatened by authorities.

This isn’t to say people will always make the best decisions. We as young adults are still subject to hormones, which is often why we go a bit crazy sometimes and do things that we later on would never even consider doing. The point is, however, we are adults.

Most of us are wise enough to know that depending on the teacher, walking into a classroom in pajamas/gym wear will not necessarily set a professional example, just as we know that swearing multiple times during a job interview wouldn’t be a wise way to make yourself look like a great applicant (unless you’re getting a job as a drill instructor and you’re showing off your Full Metal Jacket abilities–in that case, curse away).

If you don’t know this, let me let you in on a little secret: people judge books by their covers. It’s a sad truth, but with a hefty amount of society, even if you’re the most qualified and educated human on the planet, if you come in looking like you just woke up off the floor in a frat basement, you’re probably going to get passed off as just another schmuck.

The truth of the matter does stand that if you want to be taken seriously by people, you often have to put in the effort to make yourself look like you care.

I would consider myself a decently dressed man on campus. I wear button down shirts tucked in, am known to frequent khakis and am proud to say I wear a fedora whenever I’m out.

I do this mainly because I enjoy dressing up. It’s comfortable and I will be true to my ego in saying I enjoy getting compliments from looking sharp. This isn’t to say that I have a problem with people dressing down. Some people rock the gym-wear style amazingly and as seen by Hugh Hefner, some lucky individuals can even look their best in pajamas. If you feel that you look fantastic in a full-camo outfit, props to you. There’s a slight possibility you might have to endure some doubting looks and a few redneck jokes, but if that is who you are inside, don’t be afraid to show it.

If you just spent multiple weeks in training and want to show the world that you now look like a Greek god/goddess in a more tight-fitting wardrobe, go for it! You’re going to probably get attention from those who are attracted to you as well as a lot of envy from those who’d want to look like you, but know in your heart that if you just worked out for the past few months to become the most fit version of yourself that you could be, go ahead and show it off.

And if you are bothered by people that dress in a certain manner, feel free to ask yourself why. Are you frustrated you can’t pull off a certain style that someone else does? Free yourself by knowing you look awesome in your own. Uncomfortable that someone dresses in a manner in which you would never dare to? Know that we all express ourselves in different ways and by showing respect to someone even if you don’t agree with them, the chance that they will judge you from being different than them is reduced. As long as you can accept the responsibilities that come with the way we look, we can have a lot more happiness in finding who we really are.

College life entails a long series of issues. Binge drinking, sexual violence and even harassment are often common when entering into the average collegiate environment. Combine that with the passion that most people our age have to make big changes and you got yourself the reason why students are often searching for ways that they can make a difference. Here’s the thing: A major part of being an adult is in understanding what problems really matter in life. While commenting on reasons that a more mature sense of style can make a difference in someone’s educational/professional opportunities is decent grounds for awareness, taking a moral crusade on your problems with the way others look not only tends to fall on deaf ears, but will also do a good job at directing more conflict towards yourself.

In basic, people tend to not enjoy being criticized when they aren’t causing harm towards others and are quick to be vocal about it. What I feel about this whole thing? Don’t fret over others’ lives and none will fight about yours.


Joseph Stallcop

Share and Enjoy !