Beyond the t-shirt: Perks of dressing up

April 4, 2017, 10:04 p.m.

As I get ready to go to my 9:30 classes, I aimlessly put on the Bay Area uniform — a plain tee, jeans and a pair of sneakers — ready for another uneventful day. As I leave the building and look around, I find myself in every person around me, wearing the same blank clothes and expressions. In this very moment, I realize that there is a simple savior to the monotony of my life: a change of clothes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all in for the Bay Area’s focus on minimalism and comfort. It definitely does add productivity to my day and takes one more thing off my never-ending list of to-do’s. Yet amidst this trend catered towards efficiency, I think it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of following trends mindlessly without self-expression. I know this all sounds fuzzy and somewhat unreasonable, but it’s surprising how this is a hidden truth in our lives. Just think back to the last time you dressed up in your favorite outfit, whether through those snazzy pair of shorts that show off your rebellious side or the long olive green dress that shows how earthy-chic you are. Think about the confidence you exuded, the power you held, the belief that you were invincible and the assurance you had about who you are. Why do we forget or choose to not participate in the power apparel has to change our outlooks? Just looking at my personal experience, I recognize what incredible transformations fashion has allowed for.

For me, one of the most eye-opening ideas dressing up has shown me is that it allows me to express myself in situations where I believe that I can’t use my voice. I can recall multiple occasions where I felt the need to express myself, but nerves kicked in, I didn’t have an opportunity to speak or I felt like silence was more powerful. But knowing that the clothing I was wearing represented me and my beliefs gave me assurance that my core character was being seen.

It has also served as a motivating factor to getting my life back together on multiple occasions. Looking at the past quarter I realize there was an incredibly strong correlation between when I felt like my life was going to shambles (because of the incredible amount of work that I had to accomplish in an absurdly short amount of time) and when I was wearing my ketchup-stained, oversized sweats. To me, the clothes I wore on days like these were an active symbol of my state of well-being. But with time, I have come to realize I can reverse the process in which I allow my mindset to affect the clothes I wear. What if instead of wearing sweats on my roughest day, I wear my best outfit? I would use it as a symbol of motivation toward where I want to be in my life: healthy and happy.

Surprisingly, dressing up has also added a lot of productivity into my life as well. It might seem a bit counterintuitive if you think about it, but dressing up actually creates a strong divide between work and fun and allows me to maximize my focus on whichever activity I’m participating in. Just like how the environment I’m in affects my mindset, so does my clothing. For instance, if everyone was quiet and working around me, I would know to concentrate on my work and try to get all my work done. In the same way, if I were wearing business casual clothing that pushed me to feel studious and confident in my abilities, I would feel more inclined to work with more focus. On the other hand, if loud music was playing and people around me were chattering, I would definitely be in a lighter mood and feel more relaxed. Simply wearing fun and crazy rally would add to the mindset.

But at the end of the day, though all of these are definite pluses of dressing up, the reason I choose to express myself through the clothing I wear is because it serves as a constant reminder of my character and how dynamic I am. How? Because each article of clothing I own symbolizes a part of my story. My favorite outfit is my bright orange shorts, a plain shirt and a pair of sporty black chucks. Each of these items may represent completely different ideas and symbols to every person, but when they come together they create a surprisingly cohesive outfit or story. Outfits like these are what remind me and those around us that we are incredibly unique human beings whose experiences intertwine into one beautiful story and outfit.

Contact Medha Verma at medhav ‘at’

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