Going to Class or Walking the Runway?

by Chloe Bubion

A stroll through Argyros Forum walkway can feel more like walking down the runway of a fashion show. You can see students dressed in trendy athletic gear, skirts paired with knee-high socks, buttons downs, Sperry Topsiders, Greek letters and the occasional pair of wedges.

More often than not, students are dressed to impress. Chapman attendees opt out of the typical lazy college style, and flaunt their most stylish, trendy outfits for class.

Sophomore strategic and corporate communication studies major Kelsie Mattingly has noticed a pattern in the way students choose to dress to class.

“You just don’t see a lot of students bumming it to class,” said Mattingly. “Since mostly everyone dresses nicely here, we all do. It’s like an unsaid rule that we have to be presentable at all times.”

It’s become all too common to see students at many colleges roaming their campuses in sweats, but this is not as at Chapman. Men and women are proving to be more fashion-forward under unspoken trend guidelines, and some students feel they need to conform to these trends when headed to their courses.

“Chapman students dress really cute when going to class, even if you are casual – you are casual cute – which I think challenges me to try and put together a nice outfit every day,” said senior peace studies major Michelle Lewis. 

Chapman sophomore strategic and corporate communication major Joanna Huckins wearing lace-up boots. Photo courtesy of David Ko.

Now, even going to class can be an opportunity to make a fashion statement.

Communication studies professor Sharon Beal, who teaches gender and communication, has also noticed the common trend in students.

“On campus, there seems to be an increased emphasis on fashionable trends, especially expensive and stylish clothing,” said Beal.

Students are showing off their personal fashion sense through clothing that keeps up with trends.

Layered looks, such as oversized sweaters, leather vests and patterned scarves are popular on campus. Several students even wear high heels, such as the popular “Lita style” boot to class.

Talia Hubble, a freshman broadcast journalism major, said she tries to dress cute for all of her classes.

“Usually I'll throw on a dress, or wear shorts and boots," Hubble said.

Hubble feels that Chapman students put more effort into their class attire compared to other colleges.

“Most of my friends (current students at TCU and Georgetown) go to class in yoga pants or sweat pants and a sweatshirt,” Hubble said.

She finds that students at Chapman cannot get away with dressing more casual to class, and therefore collectively attempt to make themselves more presentable each day.

Being at a smaller private university also affects daily outfit choices.

“I know that I will see someone I know every time I set foot on campus, so of course I want to look cute,” said junior dance major Alisa Illo.

However, dressing up to class still comes as a surprise to some.

“I have never seen people wear heels to class until I came here," said freshman communication studies major Ella Miller.

Miller said that she has seen a dramatic shift in classroom attire in college compared to when she was in high school.

Although most students put their best foot forward at all times, some chopse not to let what others wear affect her wardrobe decisions. Depending on the hour of her class, Miller said that she will decide what she wears based on the amount of time she has to get ready.

“If I have an early class, I will wear running shorts with a T-shirt. But if it is later in the day, I will try harder and wear cute jeans and a pair of boots,” Miller said.

Stress on appearance has not only captured the attention of students, but faculty as well. Some faculty members such as Beal question where the line should be drawn when it comes to classroom attire.

“I cannot help but wonder the long lasting impression [these trends] are leaving on the faculty,” Beal said. "Is it an impression of professionalism or fashion?”

Beal said that it is important to recognize that the clothes students choose to wear to class give off a certain image to the faculty students encounter daily.

These fashion norms are not only placed on the women here at Chapman University, but also pressure the men of this campus to comply.

Senior David Ko rocks his flannel in front of Memorial Lawn. Photo courtesy of David Ko.

Men wearing work out or sports gear still have a sense of style in their outfit choice. Lululemon running shorts, the latest Nike shoes, and Under Armor T-shirts tend to be the favored athletic threads.

“Even in the gym you see guys dressed up in nice workout gear. It’s crazy that some kids take it as far as looking good when they workout to fit in here," said sophomore psychology major Sebastian Ravitz.

Students who dress up for class are criticized when they don’t.

“Sometimes I will come to class in a sweatshirt and sweats and people will tell me I look tired, when in reality I just didn’t really want to dress up,” said junior integrated education studies major Yasmin Cruz.

Beyond the desire to fit in, the clothes students choose to wear to class each day directly affect how others view them. Some people at Chapman feel the pressure to live up to these standards, and tend to put more effort into their wardrobe choices.

Chapman student style is often deemed “runway ready” everyday. In the end, however, it is up to each individual to define what is appropriate classroom attire.

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