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The Carletonian

Monochrome November: A growing Carleton tradition

Miah Francis ’26
Miah Francis ’26 looking stylish in an all purple fit.

November is a month known for its challenges. One challenge, however, that many new students have not heard of before is Monochrome November which was started at Carleton three years ago. The core of the challenge is exactly what the name implies: dress in monochrome for as many days in November as possible. The rules, as explained in an email spread around campus, are simple: the main outfit should be monochrome — outerwear and changes for exercise/labs don’t count — and to be supportive and have fun. 

All white, like the Minnesotan weather last week! (Miah Francis ’26)

Commenting on the timing of the event, co-organizer Ella Daniels-Koch ’25 said “November’s just the time to do weird things. November is cutting it a little close [referring to the weather], but it’s fun to add layers. Late fall is perfect for monochrome.” The timing of the event is likely unintentional. Co-organizer Isaac Endo ’25 gave a brief history of the three-year tradition, sharing their theory that the creator simply came up with the idea some time in October.


Participants join a GroupMe chat, and are encouraged to share creative pictures of their outfits. People take pictures in groups, mirror selfies, out and about, and even on the climbing wall. Endo said that “I feel like people like showing off their outfits. It’s a fun opportunity to do that.” 


The challenge has been going strong for a few years now, and current organizers Endo and Daniels-Koch offered insight on its success. Endo described it as “a fun community thing… You see someone wearing monochrome, you just have a little chat about it.” Daniels-Koch added that “it’s kind of a bonding thing.” Endo said, “It definitely starts on the first day, with a big group, then peaks maybe day four-ish… about 50 people on the best day participate. By the time finals come around, I think last year there were nine people I was aware of who did it every day.”  However, there’s no pressure on participants to monochrome every single day. Daniels-Koch said that “there was a cohort of people who did it maybe two or three times a week, and there were other people who did it a handful of times that month.”

All blue–in true Carleton ‘fashion.’ (Miah Francis ’26)

One way that students can participate is by utilizing color trends. Endo noted that blue was the most frequent, as jeans make it easy — as well as often black and gray. People are able to wear simple or complex outfits according to what they have available and how much they feel like participating on any given day, and still feel included. Endo said, “of the general categories, I feel like I’ve seen them all, people have colorful clothing.” When it comes to rare colors, Daniels-Koch said “I don’t think I’ve seen gold, but I’m gonna work on that.” Both organizers also strongly recommended lending and borrowing clothes to enable more color variety. Endo described it as a good way to get closer to people. 

“Groutfits” take on a stylish connotation in Monochrome November. (Miah Francis ’26)

Sophia Jazaeri ’27, a first-time participant, said, “I really like the rules, I like that they’re not super serious, it feels […] fun and like a community thing.” This is the energy the organizers are aiming to create. Monochrome November is a challenge, but it isn’t competitive: the goal to have fun and feel confident. Both organizers had thoughts on how it had impacted them over the years. Endo said, “Coming here freshman year, I […] had a lot of blue days. But I’ve figured out what I like to wear.” Part of the goal of the challenge is to inspire other students to do the same: feeling comfortable while being creative with their clothing. Daniels-Koch spoke to the general fashion culture at Carleton: “I think it’s a pretty fashionable school. I think people pay attention to what they’re wearing and like to spice it up. I think of my high school experience and just comparing the fashion there to the fashion here, it’s way more creative here.”


Not only does Monochrome November present an opportunity to make new friends, it also enables students to connect with the greater Carleton community through another of the traditions this school takes pride in. Jazaeri said this was part of why they got involved: “I [wear] monochrome a lot of the time anyways… and I wanted to get involved in a lot of campus traditions.” This newer tradition enables students to connect with a larger community of people at this school who find value in self-expression through clothing. 


Daniels-Koch described the monochrome hub at the Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts (CANOE) house, where she lives, saying, “There’s a lot of monochrome people in CANOE. Yes, CANOE is outdoorsy,  but more so than outdoorsy, we are whimsical and jolly and jovial. It’s […] about the whimsy.” Both organizers emphasized in their advice to participants that the GroupMe chat is a nonjudgmental space, and nothing is “not monochrome enough.” People are free to share and participate as much as they want.

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