Fashion trends observed on campus reflect popular culture

By Cailie Bruxvoort

A student wearing a style of clothing they like (photo courtesy of @unw_fits on Instagram).

Every person has their own style and way of expressing themselves. It is a freedom many people greatly value and take pride in. Each campus has its own trends and popular styles that seep into and influence the student body.

Lately, I have noticed some overwhelming trends that are reflected in the University of Northwestern–St. Paul’s culture and on campus. Most of these have been captured on @unw_fits, an Instagram page run by UNW students.  

Turtlenecks are one of the most prominent fashion trends that can be observed on campus, especially in the female population. Typically, turtlenecks are worn underneath sweaters, crew necks and most noticeably, t-shirts.

Something about long sleeves underneath t-shirts brings me back to childhood. I distinctly remember being a young child and fighting my mother because I did not want to wear a turtleneck, let alone wear one underneath my favorite t-shirt. I do own and wear some turtlenecks, but I cannot help but feel a sense of nostalgia and a slight sense of hypocrisy every time I do wear one.

The next notable trend is high-waisted, wide-legged, loose and/or vintage-style jeans or pants. Generation Z seems to be abandoning the skinny jeans in exchange for a looser, more relaxed fit.

While it may feel like going back in time a couple decades, this is definitely something I can get behind, and fashion on campus has affirmed it. I think the pants are more comfortable and flattering and allow for more movement. I believe this new pants trend is a win all around.

Parting hair in the middle is another issue that has been hotly contested on TikTok and can be seen on UNW’s campus. While the middle part seems to mostly pertain to the female population, I have seen some males on campus who have brought back a middle part that looks exactly like my father’s hair in his high school senior photos. I think the look works for some people, but it depends on the person’s hair type and face shape.

Another trend I have seen throughout the winter months is high-end leather boots such as Dr. Martens or Blundstone. Both are expensive, high-quality boots and offer up their own fashion statement. I think they pair brilliantly with the wide-legged jeans and give a powerful yet chic vibe to the outfit. I have a pair and love the comfort, warmth and versatility they gave to my outfits in the winter months.

The last trend I want to highlight is one I do not absolutely love. It is the emphasis of neutral colors. Many people are wearing clothing within the white, tan, gray, brown and black spectrums. Some believe these “colors,” or really lack thereof, give off a more classy or professional look.

While neutral colors are great, and I do enjoy them in certain contexts, I think it can be quite depressing to look around on campus and not see any colors. If other trends from the 1980s and 1990s are returning, why cannot vibrant colors also be brought back?

Trends are unavoidable, but this does not make them inherently bad. I believe that everyone should be free to choose how they want to look and portray themselves, whether that is sticking to a trend or going on their own course.

Many students at UNW choose to follow the trends, and many do not. No one should let a trend dictate how they decide to express themselves.

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