Someone explain Stanford fashion to me, please

Feb. 6, 2018, 1:50 p.m.

Self-obsessed school that we are, Stanford loves to talk about itself. (I, of course, can’t complain, since talking about Stanford is all I do for the Grind, but at least I’m self-aware.) I’ve assembled compendiums of Stanford slang for a final assignment, I’ve read (and written) articles about the existential struggle of studying at Stanford, I’ve spent sociology discussing the Stanford Bubble; there’s a certain amount of self-absorption that comes with scholastic prestige, even if it’s meant in the self-deprecating, how-am-I-here way. It’s perhaps expected, then, that Stanford should boast its own brand of fashion – and by brand I’m referring not to the school-sanctioned “Fear the Tree” tees, but to the implicit trends that are shifting even now as Gen Z students replace graduating millennials.

Nose piercings: The “everyone in sororities look alike!!” typecasting never seemed accurate to me until I noticed that at least 27 percent of my fellow Chi O members have nose studs and/or rings. (To be fair, prolonged exposure breeds intimacy and behavioral overlap, so it’s a bit of an ouroboros.) While piercings are admittedly becoming less and less taboo as the archaic, 1950s-esque respectability politics of Midwestern America fall out of favor, there was absolutely an internalized voice frequently screaming “scandalous!” at me during my freshman year. (Though there are surprisingly few tattoos, given the “40 percent of millennials are inked” statistic.)

Athletic wear: I have a bizarrely realistic memory of the tour guide who ushered me and my parents around campus at Admit Weekend. She was an American Studies major, she was in a sorority that I’m 85 percent sure was Alpha Phi and, despite not being an athlete, she was clad in athletic shorts and a loose tank top, swinging a semi-transparent, hot pink water bottle from one hand. The athleisure clothing craze is, of course, not Stanford-centric in and of itself (which is especially evident to anyone with a white, middle-aged mother), but damn is it ubiquitous on campus. As someone who doesn’t like how she looks in exercise attire and prefers the large sweaters of winter quarter to the short sleeves of spring, I can understand the ease in throwing on athletic clothes in the morning before a 9 a.m. (and why not, if you’re a fit 20-year-old), but it was a strange adjustment period after dress codes that demand “professionalism” in school.

Haircuts: While the overwhelming presence of ombre among female-identifying students has all but evaporated, there are still some hairstyles that all students seem to sport at some point. Among them is a distinct divide between upperclassmen and underclassmen in the hair department: short vs. long, respectively. As my friends returned for fall quarter, fresh-faced and resigned to imminent academic death, their locks were collectively chopped off; like Mulan slicing off her split ends with a sword, the junior class has, I assume, grown exhausted of hair expectations and given up on catering to society. Or maybe I’m reading too much into this.

Male-identifying English majors: Look, this is a limited niche, I know, BUT THERE IS A TYPE. The undercut-floppy-bangs combo. The vintage glasses frames. The button-up that is somehow classy instead of stuffy. Probably at least one piercing. Probably not super tall. Is this Stanford-specific? Is this universal? LMK.

Fuzzy vs. techie: I don’t know about other humanities majors, but I feel conspicuously fuzzy every time I bike into the engineering quad or enter a chemistry building for an anthropology lecture. Spoons dangling from my earlobes or leaves doodled on my wrist in Sharpie seem fine in my English lecture where people have hipster glasses and edgy haircuts, but crossing over into the STEM territory of sleek backpacks and businesslike strides is like walking into a searchlight – it’s the worst kind of magnifying glass on my personal presentation. (And no, startup style is another article altogether.)


Contact Claire Francis with your fashion observations at claire97 ‘at’

Login or create an account