Column: Fashion Forward
The 'BC' Look: Does It Really Exist?
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 00:01
It’s no secret that there are well known stereotypes regarding fashion at Boston College. It’s all about leggings, Patagonia fleeces, Tory Burch accessories, Brooks Brothers, boat shoes, and snap backs here on the Heights, right? It’s true, a lot of people do view our collective campus “look” this way, but I don’t.
This homogenous stereotype does hold some truth, as most stereotypes do, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. But what everyone must at least try to do is look beyond that stereotype and discover the true colors of BC fashion. There is an overwhelming sense of the desire to fit in with the so-called “prep” stereotype on campus, but have you ever really taken a good look at everyone sitting at Corcoran Commons, studying at the library, or walking through the Quad to his or her next class? It’s not all classic New England out there—we really do have an eclectic student body (although it may be hard to notice at times).
As a freshman last year, I found it hard to notice people that dressed differently from this stereotype, until I discovered “The Sartorialist of Boston College” on Tumblr, a blog run by a former fella of the BC student body that would post photos of students a few times per week, whose ensembles caught his attention. As already mentioned, the BC Sartorialist does not attend this school anymore, and as such, does not do BC related posts on his blog anymore. His presence on campus made a significant impact on me personally, however. This was a dude who would sit for prolonged periods of time observing students as they walked by, and acknowledging those who didn’t fit the preppy stereotype. While a lot of students struggled to fit in looks-wise, this guy was praising those who chose to stand out. It was something that I was comforted by when I felt that this campus was lacking any appreciation for diversity. It made me feel more comfortable with my personal appearance knowing there was at least one person out there who valued unique and different fashion.
However, because the Sartorialist had an eye for the unusual and quirky he himself created the presence of the “hipster” stereotype on campus. I’ll admit it, sometimes I hoped for the Sartorialist to notice my so-called “bold” outfit choices and feature me on his blog (and I know a number of you guys secretly wanted him to notice you too) and get individual recognition for, well, being an individual. But what did this now create? The need for me to stand out so much so that it felt like I was forcing myself to dress differently and stand out, which didn’t feel like myself.
So now there are two categories of style: either you strive to fit in or make yourself stand out. I still see this dynamic present throughout campus. I’m not saying that everyone is behaving like this, but to those of you who feel as though you do fall in either one of the two categories I mentioned, I invite you to observe a different approach to fashion: just do you.
I have tried to embrace this philosophy to the best of my ability. It’s hard to try to eliminate cultural influences, but trying to do so is the best way to discover your true style. If nobody around you is wearing a brand or style that you absolutely love would you still wear it? Similarly, if somebody is wearing something you wouldn’t necessarily chose to wear would you automatically say they look bad or don’t have a good sense of fashion?
The answer to that last question is most likely yes. I’ve done it—we’ve all thought, “WTF is he/she wearing?” It’s a part of the human condition to judge. But who are we to judge others? When we judge others we limit their wardrobe options, and homogenize how people should dress. Of course there are groups of people who have similar style, but just because one group is different than the other doesn’t make it less unique. So if you really like preppy clothing for the look and not just because everyone around you is sporting that style, do it. And if you really do like looking different because your sense of style is not as popular on campus, and you’re not forcing yourself to look different, do it. Just make sure that however you dress, you’re doing you and doing it for yourself and not others. That way nobody’s judgments can affect you, because, at the end of the day, you dressed for yourself, and that’s the only thing that matters.