Monday, March 28, 2011

student dressing etiquette


When it comes to beauty I often end up feeling like a bit of a novice. With make up, I tend to stick with what is tried and tested, and when I get ready in the morning I'll apply moisturiser, (or suncream if it's summer) followed by a little foundation (just to even out my skin and smooth over any blemishes) then some lip balm and mascara. When I fancy something different I'll brush on some brown eyeshadow just under my lower eyelashes or wear lipstick. I like lipstick a lot but since coming to University haven't worn it nearly as much as I used to.

With University seems to come an etiquette, and that etiquette says that as a student making a bit of effort with how you look can easily translate as trying too hard or overdressing. Its a philosophy that rubs off easily onto Freshers, the idea that nonchalance is the holy grail of dressing-I find myself one of those people who might roll their eyes if somebody in a lecture is wearing heels, as much as I dislike myself for doing it. I think I've ended up placing lipstick in the same category and as somebody who has never viewed lipstick as exclusive to nighttime, this feels like a bit of a betrayal to myself! I found this old favourite in my cupboard yesterday, feeling sorry for itself due to lack of use. It's a lovely reddish orange in 'Hot Chilli' from the old faithful Boots 17 range. Re-embracing my old lipsticks made me think about University dressing and the effect its had on my own style, for better or for worse and the way I think living in Halls can increase your awareness of how others respond to what you wear.

The culture of student dressing is an interesting one because there are complete polar opposites-you get the students who slum it even when leaving Halls to venture to the supermarket, in pyjama bottoms and heads with nests of hair piled on top. But there are also those who put more thought into what they wear when they know they'll be at Uni-I find the library during peak exam season testament to this as it feels like everybody has scrubbed up for the occasion of such a high density of people under one roof!

I like to think that there's a happy medium- I enjoy wearing clothes that are fairly dressed down so that I can 'get the job done' (ie, cycle into lectures without getting too sweaty) but that reflect myself and my interest in style. I suppose deep down it may also be because I want to reflect that I'm not treating lecture theatres as a place to exhibit style which I think is the judgey notion that causes people to raise eyes over certain sartorial choices. So a typical go-to formula might be green skinny cords with my new balance and an old benetton jumper. That's not to say that wearing heels isn't an option-I may wear my chunky black heels but I'll be aware of wearing them with say, jeans instead of a dress to keep things feeling fuss-free. I've never been that glossy a person in my approach to personal style but it's interesting to realise that this underlying 'etiquette' has further increased my affection towards 'comfort-style'.

At the same time there is something quite unappealing about the idea of consciously recognising that there may be an etiquette as etiquette suggests something that should be conformed to and to me style should always be about individual choice and about reflecting on the outside all those thoughts and references ticking away on the inside and in your brain which are personal to you. Style and Fashion should be diplomatic and rolling eyes at somebody who chooses to wear heels to a lecture is ridiculous. If there is any good to come from dressing etiquettes (and I'm still unsure that there is), it should be a deeper emphasis on dressing for comfort, not necessarily practical comfort but the comfort that comes from understanding exactly what you love and what works for you on a personal level because that's when a natural nonchalance will show through.

16 comments:

Maeva Christa Hiag said...

l'arme fatale
the red lipstick!

La Bise

MCH from Paris
www.maevachristahiag.blogspot.com

chinchillakwak said...

fantastic post. i like getting dressed, but the line between dressing for yourself/dressing for others is always tricky.

heels to class seems kinda silly to me, but i think it depends on who the person is wearing them for. wearing them just to get male attn, for instance, doesn't seem cool to me, but whatevs, and it's hard to tell why someone is wearing something by appearance only.

Miss Dolly said...

I felt this vibe a lot more in first year and I think it's because everyone is just so nervous about starting uni, it's more easy to conform. Nobody wants to look too 'try hard' at any time. Now, in my 3rd year, it's the total opposite. Unless I really can't be bothered, I make full effort with my makeup and my outfit because it makes me feel like 'me'. I notice the people around me in lectures have also become more expressive and confident in their own styles too.

I'd only roll my eyes at the girl in heels if she was on the verge of breaking her ankles. Maybe they're what she feels her best in xx

Jennycub said...

this is really interesting blog, and you raise many points that I agree with. Ive noticed the almost 'does and donts' of uni clothing, but what Ive found is ones does is another persons donts.
Taking your example of the girls in joggers and hair tied up, that is quite the trend at uni but for me I see it as a lack of effort although Im prety sure these girls get up and plan this 'Ijust threw this on' look for jsut as long as I planned my skirt and blouse!

Im one of those heel wearing uni and lipstick wearing girls that you speak of - and I agree with you half heartedly, when I first started uni I was very much a 'I just threw this on' girl but over time and by growing up my style has changed dramatically and I love nothing more than putting on a dress,tights and little heeled boots or winter wedges.

and why do I do this? for comfort. as you stated comfort doesnt need to a practical feeling, its an inner feeling. I feel at my best when dressed like this- Im not a minority here either, theres plently of girls who make as much effort if not more, but we are definetly not the majority. It seems the joggers and hair up will always be a uni staple.

Such a good blog! interesting topic.
Well done :)

Isabel said...

"I want to reflect that I'm not treating lecture theatres as a place to exhibit style..."

Interesting. I'm a student and I wear all the wacky shit you see on my blog to class. To me, there is not appropriate forum to exhibit style, it's either there or its not.

CaramelLatteKiss said...

Culture makes a difference, I think. A friend of mine has just come back from studying in Paris, and found the opposite to be true there. You were eye-rolled if you didn't have your heels and lipstick on for lectures!

Chuck said...

I wear lipstick all the time to lectures. Fuschia, blackcurrant, bright tomato red, whatever takes my fancy. I imagine 90% of my classmates think i'm deranged (or just a bit weird - don't want to overstate my impact!) but I so don't care. I don't value their boring social uniform, why should they value my sartorial freedom?

Dot said...

Excellent post. Whenever I've been to Britain, I've always felt slightly intimidated by all those girls who wear a full face of make-up and heels during the day - but then again, British girls seem to wear more make-up than where I come from in general. I do sometimes think that there are indeed two extremes: The super-stylish ones and the girls wearing pyjamas in Tesco.

Neither of these extremes exist where I live. In fact, I have never seen anybody wear pyjamas out of doors. How dressed-up people are depends on their course though: Those who study media, theatre and film are famously hip. I studied History where I was considered exotic because I wore coloured tights...

Blah Blah Becky said...

My flatmates and I were the most lazy, sloppy students ever. It was a rare event if we dressed at all, and we often popped to the shops in our pyjamas. Shameful.

www.blahblahbecky.co.uk

Blah Blah Becky said...

p.s. and I studied Media, Dot! :-)

dazed said...

I can relate to this so much. It's a weird thing to try and find a balance between your college/every day type of wardrobe. I think when the two blend more or less, you know you've achieved a good grasp of your own personal style. I'm, er, still working on it...

Twobreadsplease said...

i really love this post. i always feel a little blah about how i dress at university because i cycle alot/everywhere and the way i dress is just based around practicality. i don't feel like there's no personal style but i end up wearing the same comfortable, utilitarian clothes for 8 weeks even though i'd be quite happy in, say, a certain skirt and wedges. xx

Samantha said...

i've always found the way people treat university dressing quite weird, people underdress in the day and wildly over compensate on nights out.
i always feel over dressed/makeup-ed for the library and like my grandma on nights out.
(at the moment this sort of suits me at the moment because i am up to my ears in essays)

although i do judge heels in lectures, only when they've got wobbly ankles. i hate it when girls look like they're in pain!

Katie said...

What you say is so true! Boots and black leggings with denim skirts and jumpers everywhere!

Katie x
www.katiescreative.blogspot.com

DREAMY said...

here here!
it depends on what you're studying too.. doing fashion design, the classroom was inevitably a dress down no-no for a lot of people. though the fashion parade did ensure a constant source of inspiration was around.

Katie said...

I found exactly the same deal when I was in my first year of Uni, and I really disliked it. Why should we (the people who love fashion and love dressing up everyday) be made to feel bad, or that we're over dressed when the fact of the matter is, they are the ones who are undressed! I dress how I want to everyday and whether its more or less glam doesnt bother me. I would also agree with Miss Dolly that it's more a 1st year syndrome as when I moved out of halls I felt even more comfortable wearing whatever I wanted. And yeah, wearing heels to uni seems like a abit of a statement (compared to others in Uggs) but again, don't you think they'd look at you and think 'damn, I should have made more of an effort!'