College campuses are epicenters for self expression. As I observed WKU’s campus this week, I was particularly focused on the way students expressed themselves through fashion.
It was nice to see such a variation in style across campus. From laid-back athletic wear to leather jackets and heeled winter boots, it seemed like every style imaginable was represented in some way across Western’s student body.
As students weaved around one another rushing their way to the next class with coffees in hands and headphones in ears, I wondered what made them wake up that day and put on the outfit they did. Did they put much thought into their look today? Why do they wear what they wear to class?
While some students treat everyday like a runway show, others say it’s pretty common to catch them in oversized sweatshirts and loafers on their way to classes. Senior Juan Dozier said he sports a comfy look from Monday to Thursday, roaming his way around campus in a beanie and his coziest sweatpants. He doesn’t feel the need to get fancy for the middle of the week. But on Fridays, Dozier puts a little more effort into what he’s wearing.
This Friday, he wore fitted jeans with vertical yellow, red and white stripes lining his legs, classic white Nike sneakers and a black sweater with rainbow lettering that read “Echo Park Los Angeles.”
“I feel confident when I wear this,” Dozier said. “It’s the end of the week, and I’m about to have fun! It’s like, you know what? Let’s finish out strong; let’s go do this weekend.”
He added that his style has changed drastically since his freshman year here at WKU.
“Each year, there are different fashion statements,” Dozier said. “When you start paying attention to more trends, you really find the things you like. My clothes used to be baggy, but that has definitely changed.”
On those weekdays when he just isn’t feeling like dressing up, Dozier can still feel confident in casual clothes.
“I embrace the ‘bum’ look,” Dozier said. “It’s comfortable. I’ve never really cared how people perceive me, so I wear my sweatpants and sweatshirts, and I go with it.”
Marketing major Jake Stevenson has a much different attitude about his campus styles. Stevenson is known for wearing full suits to his classes. He enjoys his reputation as the guy who is always “overdressed.”
“Wearing suits to class keeps me focused. I look good, feel good, perform good. My suits definitely heighten my productivity,” Stevenson said. “Tuesdays and Thursdays are my crazy days in terms of my schedule. I will always wear a full suit.”
Stevenson works for the International Student Office here at WKU, interviewing Western’s international students. He feels it is good to look professional for the job.
He added that most people are thrown off when they see “casual Jake,” on campus; it is now expected that he’s always looking as sharp as possible. But “casual Jake” is still pretty spiffy.
“I’ll wear khakis, a nice button down, or a pull-over when I’m not in a suit,” Stevenson said. “It’s rare to see me on my way to class in sweatpants. Sweatpants are for the weekend.”
Stevenson added that he’s always happy to explain his unordinary style choices to people that ask. After all, it’s understandable that people would be curious about his suits. He stands out on campus and adds a unique flare to the student body.
Dozier and Stevenson are perfect examples of the various attitudes that surround fashion for college students. Whether students feel best on their way to class in their comfiest sweats or can’t imagine sitting through a lecture without rocking their nicest pair of dress shoes, it’s clear that personal style means a great deal to the students of WKU. College may be a hectic and confusing time for most people, but never too crazy to put on a great outfit and tackle whatever the day may bring.
Features reporter Liza Rash can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Liza on social media at @l1za_.