Look good, feel even better

Story by Taylor Kuether

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Around campus — and likely every other college campus in America — sweatpants, unwashed hair, and the ever-popular Ugg boots (a.k.a. Clydesdale hooves) are commonplace. And it’s not merely college students, although we do have the greatest excuse for dressing like slovenly hoodlums (Late nights! Early mornings! Too busy to shower!). The pajama-chic epidemic plagues all ages. My dear ol’ dad enjoys wearing his green-and-gold Packer-spangled sweatpants out in public as often as possible, much to my mother’s chagrin. And if you haven’t checked out peopleofwalmart.com, save yourself the eyeball-searing reality of America’s saggy, sweats-clad, Nascar-embellished shoppers and just know that it makes us all look pretty unfortunate.

At our age, we are constantly meeting people and making connections — networking, if you will. As you shake hands with someone who may hook you up with a job one day, you certainly don’t want the hand they’re shaking to be ink-ridden with to-do lists and reminders and clothed in a limp, unwashed sweatshirt sleeve.

Europe’s got it right. So does Japan — there, even outside Harajuku, Tokyo, girls wear dresses (and heels!) and guys wear skinny jeans. I’m not suggesting girls strap on Louboutins; functionality and efficiency are still more important than style, and nothing is efficient about walking up the hill in uncomfortable shoes. And I’m certainly not suggesting guys pour themselves into a constricting pair of skinny jeans…that can’t be comfortable, either.

Friends who have traveled abroad tell me that elsewhere, students dress cleanly and nicely for class. I don’t mean they don their Sunday best, but they do make an effort. Guys in England wear dark wash jeans, and sneakers are seldom seen apart from athletic activities; light canvas Fred Perry brand shoes and dark leather kicks are much preferred. Their guys also wear deep V-neck t-shirts and scarves, but I’d understand if those options were chosen mainly by women over here. A Swiss friend of mine tells me that in Switzerland, university students have implied dress codes based on their major; for example, female economics majors wear leggings (just as comfy as sweats!), flats, long t-shirts (appropriateness is important, plus no one likes to see leggings worn as pants. They’re not quite tights and not quite pants, so use discretion), blazers and a long necklace. Picture how neat that looks. It would translate just fine here in America, too.

With the recent tease of warmer weather, it’s nice to know that those temperatures are almost here to stay — Punxsutawney Phil even predicted an early spring, for those of you who may have missed the verdict on Groundhog Day — and that makes ditching the sweats even easier. It’d be tough to stuff your tootsies into a pair of salt-splattered Uggs when your favorite flats are available and ready to be worn without the risk of cold, drenched feet.

With warmer weather will come shorts and t-shirts, and there’s no greater motivation to go for a run or lift some weights than the impending swimsuit season. Ditching bulky winter wear is enough to automatically shed pounds, and finally being able to wear clothes you like will put you in a good mood.
It really boils down to one cheesy truth: when you look good, you feel good. Swap the sweats for your favorite jeans, trade the hoodie for a cardigan or button-up, and you’ll be surprised by how collegiate it makes you feel. You might sit up straighter, you might raise your hand a few more times than usual. Best of all, you’ll look approachable. People may be put off by the sloppy, just-rolled-out-of-bed look; they don’t want to cross someone who looks like everyone in the world is interrupting their nap. Someone looking clean-cut and refreshed seems ready for the day and willing to communicate. Be that someone.

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