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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Flannels and glasses: Carleton trends

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My twin sister is always quick to remind me of how “gorgeous” the “men” are on her campus. She brags of D1 athletes who by day pump iron at the gym to the joy of onlookers and by night party shirtless and dance on top of tables at fraternities. And, in a more disgruntled tone, she speaks of the girls who appear to me to be life-size Barbie dolls. They are clad in designer clothes, have salon-highlighted hair, and meticulously maintain body shapes that are an impossible combination between athletic and curvaceous. Her campus is obsessed with the visual, the appearance of its student body. Clearly, Carleton is much different. At Carleton, I don’t see many males with bulging muscles and extremely preppy Vineyard Vines clothing. I don’t see girls with pounds of makeup or walking around on Saturday at 2 A.M. wearing little black party dresses.

Compared to what I saw at my sister’s school, Carls dress pretty conservatively. Although it’s widely known that our campus tends to lean to the left politically, I must say that Carls are pretty conservative dressers. At home, I wouldn’t take a second look at the girls wearing six-inch heals while attempting to walk up stairs at school. But here, that scene would be completely unimaginable. I even feel self-conscious walking around with boots with a tiny heel because of fear that it would be labeled as too “fancy” or maybe even “trying to hard.” At Carleton, I think, there is the idea of an effortlessly cool style, one that evokes a new type of savvy student that is decisively okay with not showing too much skin. What a refreshing concept! Or, you get the students who really just do whatever they want and show up to class in pajamas day in and day out.

If an incoming student were to ask me to describe the ideal aesthetic of a Carleton student, I would have to say that it would be a cross between a somewhat crunchy hippy decked out in flannels and overalls and a creative artist with thick glasses and a beanie that could fit in seamlessly at a Brooklyn subway stop. The words “beauty standard” may not appear to fit into the Carleton lingo. But I really do think that there is an ideal way of presenting oneself here. You don’t want to be too fancy and come off as pretentious, hence the ready-to-adventure flannel. You don’t want to come off as too preppy either, hence the beanie. And you want to come off as intelligent but humble, hence the quirky glasses that aren’t all that serious.

When we’re walking around campus, maybe we don’t see these trends all of the time. Most of the time I see students wearing whatever they want: gym clothes, slippers, maxi skirts. But I do feel as though there’s a certain expectation at Carleton with the way that students present themselves: trying to exude that we really don’t try that hard when we get up in the morning and put clothes, somehow to signal that we want to avoid being seen as too obsessed with the visuals.

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