College is commonly referred to as the four-year time slot in a young person’s life during which one is given the opportunity to discover who they are in deeper ways than ever before. It is also rather common for freshman students to feel liberated in the newfound power of being able to pick and chose what they wish to wear, especially if those students arriving on campus had spent all of high school restricted by the dress code rules and regulations of private institutions. A student accustomed to walking through hallways in starchy, uncomfortable garments including but not limited to polo shirts, button-downs, and khaki skirts and pants salivates at the mere concept of slipping on a casual, convenient outfit suitable for not only learning or working out, but also for the most vital college afternoon activity of all – napping.
Although some day in the future Rollins students will wear lab coats, smocks, suits, and more in coordination with the dress code of their passion, there is no uniform in college. We are living in a rare and precious environment specifically built for fashion experimentation and exploration. In a place where your status is determined by merit rather than the brand label on your shirt, it is imperative to allow ourselves to thrive, unrestricted by judgments or societal style demands.
As freshmen, we can officially leave behind the disapproving glares we may have received when subjected to the limitations of a school uniform in high school. Some freshman step onto the sunny cobblestone paths of Rollins with absolutely no idea who they want to be one day. Some enter their college career with specific goals, dreams, and precise plans to be doctors, artists, entrepreneurs, and more. Now is the time to view college through a fashionably spontaneous lens, allowing us to watch as our style preferences sway like a pendulum depending on our mood and feelings on any given day.
For students who previously suffered the oppression of bland, stifling school uniforms created for suffocation of self-expression, the clothes shopping process prior to college is a whirlwind consisting of mixed emotions and tough decisions. Upon entering college we question what we want to look like as we make new friends and form relationships, ultimately questioning who we are based on our style.
However, the most special and unique attribute of the college experience is the wiggle room it grants you, giving you the time and proper means to gallivant, explore, adventure, and make mistakes. As we drift through college and try our best to treasure each moment before it slips out of our hands, we discover which mistakes we wish to continue making and which ones we know to avoid in the future, all through undergoing the harmoniously natural process of messing up.
Just as we learn and grow throughout these four years in various other aspects of life, we learn about our style and what pieces of clothing make us feel like we can seize the day, shouting from the rooftops that this life is for living and we are ready to make it ours. Embarking on a fashion journey as new students in a new atmosphere means that it is not the time to worry about what we’ll look like in four, ten, or even twenty years. Instead, it is a time to break out that sequined mini skirt that you neglected in high school.
It is a time to find out that overalls are far too sweat-inducing for our southern climate. It is a time to treat this campus like our own personal runway. Maybe workout shorts and a souvenir t-shirt from your favorite ice cream shop back home warms your heart. Perhaps old converse and ripped jeans remind you of good times on a Saturday night.
Whatever it may be that you find yourself wearing around campus this semester, keep in mind that just as we have been given the time and space here at Rollins to figure out who we are and what we want to do, we also have the next four years to uncover what we want to wear while we’re doing it.