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The Tufts Sartorialist

Campus | October 26, 2009

Virginia Woolf once wrote, “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” More than any other art form, fashion is an apt depiction of our zeitgeist. Fashion has become so ubiquitous in our culture that it is adaptable and open to an array of diverse interpretations. Inspired by the immediacy and malleability of the social mores of the day, The Tufts Sartorialist (inspired by The Sartorialist Blog) tries to capture students that are immersed in a world of both everyday and avant-garde expression.

When I walk through campus, there is the occasional quirky student that catches my eye by using a multicolored sweater as the focal point of an outfit. This person might want to stick out in a crowd by wearing such an eccentric sweater, or they may just march to the beat of an internal drum and not care what others think. Either way, opinions and views of this individual are formed; the sweater can intrigue the viewer, and make them want know this seemingly unconventional Jumbo a bit better.

To be truthful, many Tufts students lack this quality. When mesh shorts, socks with open toed sandals and fleece sweatshirts become the norm, appearance becomes muddled with sloppiness, because comfort reigns supreme. The anguish of spending a few brief moments to select at least one slightly tasteful garment makes life unbearable. Who knew a “bro” could be the style icon at Tufts?

Even Tom Brady, the beloved star of the New England Patriots, can break out of the “bro mold” and put on some dapper clothes to impress. If he can channel his inner James Dean and mix it with a touch of old school Joe Namath while wearing a beautifully constructed black leather jacket, you can too.

One does not even need to have good hygiene to be stylish. Take into account the epitome of the west-coast bro: Justin Bobby (the star of The Hills). Even with his patchy facial hair and chapped lips, he can pull off a black hoodie, black, felt, wide-brimmed hat, and black, distressed leather jacket. By wearing the hat and hood together at once, he gives a nod to the fictional vigilante V, a wink to Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester’s gothic style, and a high five to the masked Zorro. Even the un-suave can earn style street cred. Students need to stop thinking that no one cares what they look like, and that everyone else feels the same way about their appearance. Not everyone does.

As a first step in this recovery process, one-stop shopping at sporting goods stores needs to cease at once. Buying from those stores, filled with a hodgepodge of North Face and Speedo, breeds monopolization of corporations. The solution to this growing pandemic across this campus (and around the world) is simple: explore the smaller stores that need help in our country’s current economic state. One may even find a unique pair of mesh shorts that are not fully made out of synthetic material; it’s a first step in the right direction. If you’ve succeeded in the first step you can move onto bigger and better options for your wardrobe, but you need to be inspired.

With Halloween just around the corner, it might be a good idea to experiment with your style. I particularly enjoy “bipolarity style” in which I imagine the outcome of mixing two unlikely characters. Lately, the character Jason Stackhouse (from True Blood), who became a Rambo-like figure this past season, has seeped into my wardrobe. So has Kurt Cobain, the embodiment of 90s grunge. To combine their wildly different styles, I mixed together Cobain’s love of flannel shirts and Converse sneakers with Stackhouse’s love of fingerless gloves and tattered skintight jeans.

If Virginia Woolf were still living today, what would she think of our campus’s love of fleece? In my opinion, only through determination and will can we be well dressed. Sweatpants may be comfortable, but comfort usually gets us nowhere. Spending just a few brief moments in front of your closet can make a big difference, especially when you receive a compliment for a nice sweater instead of a discerning look from a friend who can’t believe that you wore the same shirt three days in a row.