by Olivia Bretzman ’22
Walking around Providence College’s campus on any given day, and you will find a plethora of Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and Nike wearing students traipsing around with North Face backpacks or perhaps the occasional designer, “different” school bag.
While some students defy these norms, there is an overwhelming majority that “sticks to the status quo” of trendy fits on a day-to-day basis. Overall, there is a general lack of personality and individuality within students’ sense of style.
Many people do not comprehend the idea of personal style as something more than just looking “put together” or buying the newest trend. Allyson Giso ’22, explains: “To me, style means creativity and confidence—no matter what it is one wears, as long as it makes you feel your best, that is your style. It does not necessarily mean you have to follow a ‘main-stream’ vibe, but it can also mean that too!”
Personal style develops over time and takes many forms. It is different for everyone. While it can incorporate trends, it could totally defy them as long as someone feels comfortable in the way they are presenting and representing themselves.
Style should embody one’s personality just like the way they treat someone. It should be a window into their real, emotional depth.
At PC, there are quite a few reasons why personal style is stunted. Giso explains, “It can be limiting. There is a pressure to have a certain style. There is a connection between social groups and style. For example, for senior ring weekend, everyone is stressed out because they want to look ‘unique,’ but also want to have a cohesive look—presentable, formal, and trendy, when in all reality all those things mean something different to everyone. In the end, everyone will end up buying their dresses from most of the same places anyways.”
Madigan Farrell ’22, Secretary of PC Fashion Society comments, to, on PC students’ personal style, stating, “Although the culture at PC allows for an array of different styles, I have noticed there is a line that typically is not crossed. When I venture off-campus and observe students at Brown or RISD, I notice that they are more diverse with their style and wear outfits that I would not expect to see at PC. Despite the supportive community we have on campus, I do wish that students felt comfortable enough to go beyond the existing fashion norms and freely express themselves through their style without fear of looking different.”
There is no question that PC has a very cliquey atmosphere—oftentimes that can determine the way one dresses and acts. If one’s style dramatically changes from the norm, that person runs the risk of judgement or even just standing out.
Many people relate style and impressions with one another. While this makes sense, PC students continually hold onto the idea that their clothing or accessories will determine how a person thinks of them from the get-go.
Farrell elaborates on this point by stating, “I believe that the predominant barrier when facing personal style is conformity. There is a perceived obligation to develop your personal style within the boundaries of what is acceptable.”
Pressures from peers, academic expectation, and a general lack of diversity, all bar PC students from feeling empowered to try out something different.
Now, obviously, these statements are generalized. Not everyone dresses the same, and some are often appreciated when dressed differently.
Trends are not all bad. They are an expression of current events and culture but there is a definite lack of individuality that many people fall into on PC’s campus due to the pressure to feel accepted.
Oftentimes, too, trends can really bar someone from dressing like themselves because of social media trends. Farrell explains, “A term that has circulated through social media, particularly Tik Tok, is “cheugy,” a term that refers to a trend being out of style, and no longer trendy. When a trend becomes known for being ‘cheugy,’ it is difficult to continue to wear this trend without feeling ridiculed and embarrassed.”
In all reality, everyone is capable of dressing themselves based on their uniqueness and genuine expression of beliefs. While perhaps that is simply expressing trends or one’s athletic status, PC really does lack reality in this sense.
To emphasize this point, Farrell added, “We belong to a generation of digital natives who spend a significant amount of time connected through social media. Though this has its pitfalls, it provides us with a multitude of avenues to connect with others through our style.The age of social media and influencers allows us to keep up to date with upcoming trends and provide us with not only inspiration, but we can develop the confidence to branch out and wear more unique styles.”
Outside of PC, there are billions of styles that color the world in all its variability and beauty in different ways. PC students should not be afraid to live, act, and dress true to themselves and their personal style.