By Teresa Blackman & Elizabeth Kerin
Contributing Writer, Staff Writer
Coming to college, students are freed from the restraints of high school; all former cliques and categorizations are gone. They start freshman year, perhaps they travel to Rome and “find themselves.” But then they cycle right back into other cliques: their majors.
For the many who come into college woefully indecisive, declaring a major is a moment of terrifying triumph. Majors define and categorize, preparing undergraduates for careers and giving them a new viewpoint from which to look at the world — and perhaps at their wardrobes.
Larisa Chavez, who graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s in art history and currently works for the Office of Advancement, noticed that style solidifies as students mature.
“I think that everyone likes to fit into their niche,” Chavez said. “So once you declare your major, everyone enjoys saying, ‘I’m an English major’ and you start seeing Mason jars popping up everywhere and the flannel and I thought, ‘Oh you were kinda like this a year ago as a freshman but now at the end of sophomore year you’re happily and purposefully an English major.”
Certain majors seem to have a stereotypical style, but most students interviewed agreed that major never determines style and that even within each stereotype there are many exceptions.
Major often determines one’s clothes for entirely practical reasons. Majors like art, business, drama and various sciences often involve activities that require certain attire. These were the majors often cited as having stereotypical ways of dressing. Junior biology and drama major Stephen Thie has adapted to dressing for a variety of classes.
“On lab days science majors will have to wear long pants even though it could be like 100 degrees, so I actually keep a pair of lab pants in my backpack,” Thie said. “It’s just a pair of sweatpants that is just eternally laying in my backpack because I go to lab like four times a week, and I like to wear shorts. Drama majors… wear clothes you can move in, because we are in different classes where we have to get on the floor sometimes or [wear clothes that] mimic your costume.”
Humanities majors were not mentioned much in the conversation, except for English. Nearly everyone noted that English majors have a stereotypical way of dressing.
“I’ve noticed among English majors, there’s definitely a shared style, maybe because of art interests and our tastes in certain things,” senior English major Mary Ryan said.
Admittedly, though, the stereotype may barely be based in reality.
“English majors are very stereotypical, or at least there’s a stereotype,” senior history major Alex Taylor said. “But the Mason jar, coffee cups and cigarettes…It started with the English majors.”
Perhaps the similarity in dress arises from a correlation of major to social groups. For example, Taylor also noted that seminarians who are philosophy and letters majors are easily identifiable.
Freshman biology major Kaitlin Casanova said the social aspect outweighs trends due to majors.
“As students, we’re influenced by people that we’re hang[ing] around a lot, and you naturally hang around people that are in your profession or major,” Casanova said. “I feel like it’s just a natural cycle, people acclimating to who they’re around, and through that they dress and it becomes a stereotype. I don’t think it’s because of the major, it’s because of the people.”
Perhaps, with all these related parts, the trends really come down to individual personalities.
“English majors dress a little hipster and theology majors are more reserved with what they wear,” Thie said. “I mean that’s kind of their personality. I think that [other people in certain] majors really influence your major, your personality influences your major, and your personality also influences your dress. Both your clothing choice and your major are based on your personality. There are aspects of the major that make clothing choices, but ultimately it comes down to behavioral and personality traits.”