Why do people think that it’s appropriate to go to class looking like they literally just rolled out of bed?
I know, this is a pretty controversial opinion, and it might seem strange coming from somebody who is such a big proponent of wearing whatever the hell you want. I’m the first one to get heated when girls are shamed for not following rigid dress codes; teen girls are sexualized and deemed as walking distractions to male students for wearing leggings or wearing a tank top, which is just ten levels of ridiculous (and sexist). So, don’t get me wrong, when all is said and done, people should wear what they want (as long as its not offensive or inciting violence). But with that said, I can’t help but cringe whenever I see a college student roll up to class wearing pajama pants and slippers. I believed this when I was a college student, and I still believe it now. It doesn’t take long to dress up a little, to look like you actually put a little bit of effort into attending class.
I can’t help but feel a little like Cher during this part of Clueless:
I’m not just saying this to be a hard ass. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that students need pearls to attend class. Hell, I think that leggings and a sweater is a totally appropriate class outfit if you pair ’em with some boots, sneakers, or flats. Like, nobody has time–or much of a desire–to rock business casual to Psychology class at 9:00 AM. LOL, no thanks.
So, why do I think that people should take some effort to get dressed for class? Well, I sort of view college as going to work. Assuming you don’t have a part-time job while attending classes, your college courses might very well be your only job. When you go to work, you’re supposed to be a professional, right? Same goes for college. You’re expected to arrive with all of your books and notes, because otherwise you would be unprepared. Not only would this be frustrating, it would also be a bad look. Your professor is going to think that you’re not prepared for class or mature enough to be there. So, I basically look at clothes the same way. If I don’t show up looking like I’m there to be attentive, alert, and ready, I’m going to look like I don’t care about being there, I’ll look like I’m not prepared.
Not a good look.
Speaking of that, you really never know who you’re going to run into on campus. I’m not talking about the cute person you keep seeing in your dorm building, I’m talking about that professor you really want next semester, or your advisor, or even job recruiters. I hate to say it, but people are superficial, and first impressions are everything. If someone’s first impression of you is made while you’re wearing marijuana leaf pajama bottoms and flip flops…well, draw your own conclusion.
But this isn’t just about looks, people. I’m looking out for y’all, too! When you take time to get dressed in the morning, you’re going to feel more alert. A Forbes interview with Dr. Karen Pine, a psychology professor, revealed that in the workplace, “Dressing casually could cause an employee to feel less focused and alert…When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment.” So, think of it this way: If you’re wearing the same outfit you’d wear to bed, you’re going to carry over the attitudes you hold when you’re about to snuggle up in bed. But a pair of jeans and a blouse? That’s what you wear when you’re ready to go out and take on the world (or, you know, class). If you’re already exhausted or feeling lazy before hustling to class, you might as well throw on some real clothes so that you don’t feel even worse!
Honestly, it’s perfectly understandable for someone to respond to this and say, “Ashley, I spend way to much effing money on college to give a damn about looking nice for a class I barely care about.” Fair enough. Maybe professors don’t even care about their students dressing so lazily. But I know that if I’m spending however obscene amount of money for school, I might as well respect the financial sacrifices that were made by looking like I give a damn about being there. The way I carry myself through this crazy world of ours holds meaning, especially as a black woman. I’m aware that what might just look like an “elegantly disheveled co-ed” style on a blonde white girl could–unfairly–come across as “ratchet” on my body, and that’s another thing that I personally can’t really afford in a semi-professional setting, including a campus setting. I’m not one to censor my personal style for the masses: I rock a fro, I love a good crop top, and I prefer my skirts short. But dressing with purpose? I’m all about that, and maybe you should, too.
So, before you consider rolling out of bed and heading to your first class for the day as is, consider the benefits of taking just a couple of minutes to pull on a pair of jeans. It won’t kill you, and your reputation and ability to focus might just depend on it.
Do you think that people should avoid looking sloppy in class? Tell us in the comments!