We are how we dress: extra effort pays off


As a 21 year old, I hear all about "making good choices."  Duck or Roy? Unpaid internship or lucrative babysitting opportunity? Gas money or another pair of shoes?  The choices I make every day impact how other people perceive me, but no matter how many times I hear this, I never fully appreciated the extent of this truth until recently.

In class this week, a debate began after reading postmodernist philosopher Simon Malpas's idea that "we are what we consume." How much choice do we, as consumers, have in the items we purchase and the resulting image we project? This got me thinking.

Out of all the days that I have class each week, three of the five I'm usually dressed in some rotating, colorful combination of running shorts, hoodie, baseball cap, and TOMS. Comfortable? Yes. Easy to throw on when I oversleep? Yes. Cute?...Very questionable. Makes me look alert and intelligent? Not so much. And with an overflowing closet and an embarrassing number of shoes, I have zero excuses for looking like a scrub.

My lovely roommate once told me that being a student is our job. Most jobs require a certain standard of dress, and let's be honest, if DePauw had a dress code, most of us would be screwed. Our closets seem to be broken up into two distinct sections: sweats for day, skimpy for night.

Newsflash: there is a happy medium. Dressing well doesn't mean having to strut Burkhart Walk in stilettos or fussing with your tie in lab. A few simple tweaks will go a long way to dressing more professionally in the classroom.

While it may be tempting to reach for gym shorts every morning, jeans or cargoes are just as easy to pull on. Sperry's or TOMS are more comfortable (and more sanitary) than your ratty shower shoes. Swap out your t-shirts with the loud greek logos in favor of a simple cotton tee. Brush your hair.

Girls, a simple swipe of mascara and a hint of blush take about five seconds and will help you feel infinitely more polished. These simple little changes will help you look more awake, alert, and respectful of the professor and your expensive education. Bonus: they transition well if you do decide to hit up the Duck after a long study session in Roy O.

If you find yourself with zero class-appropriate options, get off Twitter and start Googling your favorite stores. Just because Peebles and Wal-Mart are the retail options in Greencastle doesn't mean that you are destined for life at the bottom of the best-dressed list.  Some of my favorite retailers are online-only boutiques, so you'll have a closet unlike anyone else's.

If your bank account is registering negative numbers, hit up a friend's closet. The best perk of group housing: so-many-closets equals so-many-options. It's like shopping for free! But make sure to ask before you borrow, or else Public Safety may be paying you a visit.

"We are what we consume." We are what we dress. We pride ourselves on "Uncommon Success." Let's start looking like it.

— Dickman is a junior from Indianapolis, majoring in English writing. opinion@thedepauw.com