From first through eighth grade, I attended a Catholic school that required a strict uniform: white polo shirt, khaki pants and brown or black shoes. And for those eight years, my sense of fashion told a story of imprisonment and boredom. And, when I eventually graduated and attended a public high school, I felt like I was being thrown to the wolves.
Don’t get me wrong, freshman year I wasn’t showing up to class looking like a slob, but I may or may not have owned a pair of green plaid Sperrys that I would match with my black Reebok ankle socks and cargo shorts.
In short, I was a lost dog in desperate need of an episode of Stacy London’s “What Not to Wear” advice. I started to make a point to be more in-tune with what my peers were wearing for the first time, which led to my first Uptown outfit in college:
Khaki shorts [✓]
A plain Ralph Lauren tee [✓]
White Nike half calf socks [✓]
… and white canvas tennis shoes [✓]
And even though nothing was technically required I still felt like I was back in middle school, dressed in uniform, with every other man on campus.
I was highly influenced by everyone around me and as the year went by, my wardrobe filled with Lululemon, button-downs and Comfort Color t-shirts. At the time, I don’t think I dressed in those clothes because I particularly liked them. It just felt easy and comfortable and a way for me to fit in with the crowd. Because when you’re a first-year, you often don’t look to stand out.
Now, as a senior, when I look back at my time here at Miami and the community I have built, my wardrobe has become more of a reflection of who I am — not the person I thought first-year me had to be.
But, I would say I truly stepped out in fashion when I stepped out of the closet.
Coming to Miami, I didn’t want anyone to make a judgment about me before I even began my time as a student. And personally, the first impression isn’t what you say or do, but how you present yourself. In this way, I found that a lot of my personality and sense of style was muted because I was so shy about my sexuality.]
Now before this gets too sappy, fashion clearly isn’t something I thought would change when I came out as gay, but as I became more and more comfortable with Miami, I felt like I needed to show the real me.
In the words of Lady Gaga, I consider myself “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before … ”
And, by that I mean I have two moods. If you see me on campus at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, you are seeing a very different person than the man at 11 p.m. dancing in Brick Street on a Thursday night.
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For example, on an average Tuesday I can be found sporting a pair of black Lululemon shorts, a sorority date party tee and white tennis shoes. But come Thursday, I will be happily strolling the Brick Street patio in cuffed light wash Levis, a Resort collar button-down and my not-so-white high-top Converse.
But whether it’s small changes or split worlds, fashion can help you build your personality and brand. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I went back to a uniform because I wouldn’t have to think so much … but there is simply no better feeling than wearing clothes that show who YOU are!
And if that’s an oversized flannel to tell the story of how hungover you are while writing this article for The Miami Student, or a crisp button-down shirt because you know your girlfriend will be proud of you for “dressing up,” let your clothes speak for you.
The moment I started wearing clothes that reflected my personality, instead of the people around me, I felt more visible.
So if you want to dress up for a class or dress down for Brick, DO IT!
At the end of the day, no one cares but you.