I spent the entirety of my high school career in business casual. Blazers, heels, pleated skirt and quarter zips consumed my 14- to 18-year-old wardrobe, all paving the way for a “Best Dressed” senior superlative win.
As I packed up my closet for my first year at Miami University, I felt ready to enter “J. Crew U.” I spent the weeks before I left stocking up on a preppy wardrobe I thought I needed. To my surprise, I noticed a much more laid-back approach to fashion from other students when I stepped onto campus.
The shell shock really set in when I woke up for my first 8:30 a.m. class. To no one’s surprise, the last thing I wanted to do was walk a mile across campus in my 3-inch heels or a tweed blazer in the sweltering August humidity.
I was thrown yet another curveball when, under almost every single syllabus, was a dress code. Being both a dancer and a theatre major, the words “dress for movement” became all too familiar to me. It quickly became clear that my preppy, formal wardrobe wasn’t going to cut it, and it was time to embrace a more casual college look.
I started to take note of the style of my peers and spent half of my first semester confused as to how everyone seemed so put together yet so effortless at the same time. I saw students embracing comfort over style, as well as various social media trends reflected in Miami style, most notably athleisure, the off-duty model and clean girl look. By the end of the semester, I was no stranger to these trends, either.
I found freedom in merging my style with campus fashion, creating a wardrobe that’s both practical and professional. My heels became tennis shoes and my mini skirts transformed into biker shorts and flare leggings. As I began dressing casually, I found I took myself less seriously and allowed myself to have fun when it came to choosing my daily outfit and how I presented myself to the world.
Most importantly, I noticed I was just as comfortable in my appearance dressing for comfort as I was in snappy casual. It allowed me to be more flexible for whatever student life threw at me.
My first year flipped my world upside down, so it’s no surprise my style changed along with it. And if Miami had a “Best Dressed” superlative, I can’t say I would be likely to win it now. But I can say I have found a wardrobe that is a reflection of who I am, not how I wanted people to view me.