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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Southern fashion conformity

A+rack+of+shirts+for+sale+at+Barnes+%26amp%3B+Noble+in+the+Memorial+Student+Center+on+Tuesday%2C+March+28%2C+2023.
Photo by Jonathan Taffet

A rack of shirts for sale at Barnes & Noble in the Memorial Student Center on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

Texas A&M is home to a diverse group of personalities, backgrounds and experiences. With this diversity, you would think we would be able to label ourselves as individuals. Unfortunately, the A&M student body wouldn’t know a unique fashion taste even if it was the big Aggie Spirit bus that hit them.
I want you to close your eyes and picture the trademark Aggie attire.
Let’s start with the boys. I see light-wash denim jeans, a polo shirt, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat if they feel saucy. For the girls, a big flashing ‘athleisure’ sign is going off in my mind.
Everyone has those traumatic middle school memories that pop into our minds right before we fall asleep. Understandably so, we don’t want any more traumatic stories. So does this rampant lack of individuality stem from an innate desire to conform?
I’ve fallen victim to the judgmental glares in response to my own non-conformity. My clothes are mostly hand-me-down, thrifted chic or sometimes even homemade. I often stick out like a sore thumb on campus and catch a few snickers here and there.
The last time I checked, middle school was eight years ago. So why is having a unique wardrobe looked down upon in College Station?
A&M, as of 2022, has 74,289 students. That’s a massive pool of people, but in the four years you spend here, you’ll only have time to meet a small percentage of that group. One of the easiest conversation openers, for me at least, is commenting on someone’s outfit. Your outfit is the first thing someone sees, and your clothes are a window to your soul. If everyone is dressed the same, what makes you stand out?
There are ways to dress the same but still let your individuality shine through. A perfect example can be seen in my Memorial Student Center student committee. On nights we’re working, we are all required to dress head to toe in black. You will notice, however, out of the 50 members, not a single one is dressed the same.
We accessorize and accentuate our bland, black uniform with small specks of our personality. Decked out in my signature pearls and black mary-janes, I conform, but not entirely. It’s a fine line we walk. That balance needed to walk the fashion tightrope comes down to accessorizing. It can take your outfit from drab to fab.
I’m not saying athleisure isn’t a solid choice in the blazing heat or on your off day. But, on occasions when you can dress up, why would you choose run-of-the-mill shorts and a t-shirt? Since when has athleisure been acceptable to wear to church, a theater performance or social outing with your friends?
I can grasp a lot about someone simply by their outfits. The clothing you choose creates a perfect amalgamation of who you are. If who you are is your Lululemon leggings and your Taylor Swift tour shirt, then be my guest! You should wear what makes you happy. What you shouldn’t do is wear something that you think fits into the style zeitgeist we’ve created.
Idealize your life — imagine it’s a sitcom. Would the audience applaud your entrance if you were wearing what all the extras were dressed in? What’s the point of having a “main character moment” if you aren’t the main character, but one of the nameless thousands passing by in the background?
Being young is a delicate art. We all want to fit in and be desired, but are we willing to sacrifice what makes you special?
I’m not. I like my style, my Goodwill grandma sweaters, my beat-up sneakers that squeak when I walk and my statement jeans. I am a statement, and I make sure anyone who sees me knows it.
So I challenge you with the task of asking yourself: Why do you choose what you wear? Do you wear it to follow the pesky micro-trends, to fit in with the “popular” demographic on campus or because you like it and it makes you feel good?
Maddie McMurrough is an agricultural communications and journalism sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Maddie McMurrough, Opinion Writer
Maddie McMurrough is an agricultural communications and journalism major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Maddie has been writing for the Battalion since March 2023.
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