Violetta Nikolskaya: What should I wear on the first day of school? Will everyone think me weird for clashing this top with these shoes? What if everyone notices that my new shirt is a little too snug (damn it, freshmen fifteen)? So much anxiety! When we think about dressing for class, we tend to think about the impressions we will leave on our peers, our crush and our friends. In a sea of thousands of students, I highly doubt anyone worries about the burden of keeping up the University’s reputation when they decide which shirt to put on in the morning. Representing McMaster is often not the intention of dressing up, whereas going to a new job and dressing semi-formally or business casually is meant as a way to respect the organization or company. This is not to say that McMaster does not deserve this same respect. However, I think that in a place that values the academic contributions of students, time and money could be better spent by students on tools for academic success than on a new pair of dress pants.

Meghan Booth: Rise and shine students; despite the obvious advantage to remaining young at heart for the rest of our lives, on many levels we must ‘grow up’. What this actually means is certainly arbitrary and open-ended. Right now I’m talking about ‘you’ incorporated. Allthough many of us are still just finishing up our tender teen years, you must begin the transition to young adulthood. For the purposes of this argument we are indeed referring to you, your appearance on a regular basis and of course people’s perception of you. Although we may immediately shout ‘YOLO’ and put on our favourite pink crocs and stained but comfy jeans from grade school, I posit that here, now in this educational institution, your resume begins to write itself.

Violetta: On average, I think I spot about a dozen McMaster sweaters or t-shirts around campus, whether they are declaring pride for the 125th anniversary of the University or a specific faculty or residence building. The amount of school pride that McMaster has is often translated in the attire that the students wear. Even a University sweater or logo acts as a symbolic representation of privilege, intelligence and social status. Students enjoy wearing these symbols in public because it does positively affect the service and interactions they engage with on a regular basis. A student wearing their University logo will most likely be perceived by community members as intelligent and upstanding; a positive stereotype, but a stereotype nonetheless. By the same token, a classy suit or blouse can act as a representation of status, wealth and importance. Whereas only some students can afford to fill their wardrobe with that kind of attire, it is more affordable for most students to wear something casual that, not only help them express their school pride but, gives them the ability to have that symbolic status.

Meghan: To be clear, it is certainly important to be recognized for your sharp intellect and winning personality. It is widely recognized, though, that we are often defined by our first impressions. The people we see around campus, the peers we work on projects with and the professors we interact with are all a part of an intricate network of connections that will undoubtedly aid you in some sort of way in the present and in the future; and guess what? They probably already ‘judged’ you before you even actually met. Don’t be afraid or anxious, you’re a star and all of these people undoubtedly love you, but think: when it comes to a situation where you may be considered for a shiny internship or for a recommendation for a seat on a prestigious council, will your appearance hold you back? Look at your UGGs, your green mohawk or your shiny spandex tights and ask yourself, do I look like a person in the profession I am working to be in? Food for thought: if you don’t see yourself as suited (pun intended) for the position you’re gunning for, then often times, neither does the person with the power to give it to you.

Violetta: Let’s face the facts: we are busy people. I think there is a profound correlation between how professional students seem to dress at the very beginning of the year to how casual they seem to dress once midterms and exams come looming over their schedules. Yes, there are extraneous variables like a sheer lack of interest to impress, a students’ financial ability to shop for newer trendy clothes and the influential nature of seeing other students. However, I would like to contend that a busy schedule does cause a student to prioritize certain things above others; dressing to impress a professor who does not notice them for the fourth week in a row versus being on time for a class where the professor has noticed their tardiness, which would you choose? I have and always will pick the latter because I think that I would like to judged not by my shirt and pants but by the content of my character.

Meghan: Back to my first point: we are all wandering (slowly) down the path to adulthood. It may be fundamentally flawed, biased or not your forte, but you will at some point need to begin to be accountable for getting up early enough to properly iron a shirt, comb your hair… and put on deodorant. As for the financial aspect of being presentable in a professional atmosphere, I refer to an old clothing commercial that pointed out that money can’t buy style. Money can buy Michael Kors watches and LuLulemon pants, but not style. It is certainly a societal agreement that everyone from every walk of life wishing to pursue a white collar job and beyond, must have access to business casual attire. This is the point I mean to make. I lobby not for a glitzy fashion show like in Zoolander but for an educational institution where you begin your professional life and learn the birds and the bees of taking pride in your appearance and how that resonates in McMaster. We are tired, we are stressed, we are even a little crazy at times but the unfortunate part about the factors that contribute to these feelings such as mid terms and girlfriends and hangovers, well, those things don’t go away. The causes of stress will change throughout life, but life calls to put our adult pants on, nicely ironed, with a crease down the middle.


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