A few raised degrees doesn't call for shorts and tees

Skimpy summer attire signifies cases of Seasonal Wardrobe Confusion

Spring fever definitely hit early this year. Stores like Banana Republic and H&M and lines like Ideology and H Hilfiger rolled out their flip-flops and tanks more than a month ago. While this is somewhat standard operating procedure for the fashion cycle, one of the ramifications for us regular shoppers is the burning desire to ditch our boots, coats and scarves in favor of halters, minis and sandals in a hurry. But, if you're not careful, you may fall victim to the most harmful and absurd strain of spring fever: "Seasonal Wardrobe Confusion," or SWC.

The tell-tale sign of SWC is the inability to dress appropriately for the weather. You see, when the weather breaks even a little, some fools just lose their minds-and their clothing. Just last week, for example, my cousin Dana said she saw a girl in a mini skirt, camisole and thin denim jacket miserably trekking across campus. Dana said the girl was a sad sight to behold, and that her frozen little legs looked like "cold, raw chicken" in her summertime outfit. Tragic that SWC could hit so early and so hard, but unfortunately, it's fairly common on college campuses.

We've all seen them before. The clowns playing shirtless football in the snow, the pseudo-hippies tossing around a hacky sack on a chilly March day or the bikini-clad girls attempting to "lay out" in 50-degree weather. I'll never understand it, but I feel it's my duty to address and analyze it for the unfamiliar.

This gross lack of judgment continues to startle and amaze me no matter where I go. Over the weekend, I went to St. Louis, which was experiencing some unseasonably warm temperatures. It never got warmer than 60 degrees, but you'd think it was summer the way some people were dressed (or undressed, for that matter). While I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a coat, some guy was strutting around in shorts and a T-shirt. On this same trip, I went to a party where none of the girls brought any semblance of a jacket with them. Maybe in their instance, beer was enough to keep them warm. But, I still had to wonder: what the hell are these people thinking?

One of my favorite types of SWC is the "warm top, cold bottom" combo, which you usually see on preppy guys. A typical outfit for this type of victim is a North Face fleece pullover, a T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt, shorts and flip-flops. Now, if you know you're going to be cold on the top, what makes the bottom any different?

Another popular type of SWC is the "going out" variety, which manages to snag a fair number of young women. Imagine: You're at a bar/club/party with your friends, when some chick in a butt-skimming skirt, sheer shirt and strappy heels walks by. In this day and age, the amount of skin she's showing is not that surprising. It's the fact that it's December that turns your head. Without a coat, shawl or cardigan anywhere in sight, this girl and countless others like her sacrifice health and comfort for style and beauty.

I must admit, I've uncomfortably worn my fair share of too-tall heels and super-tight jeans, but venturing out on a bitter January night in a tube top and skirt just doesn't mesh with my southern sensibilities.

Essentially, SWC is an amazing detour of logic that I will never understand. I check WeatherBug every day before getting dressed, and I just don't get why others can't (or won't) follow suit. For those that don't know, our forecast still calls for at least two more days of snow in the next week.

So if you find yourself reaching for a lightweight denim jacket instead of the wool coat you know you should have on, check for signs of fever, hysteria and dementia. You just might have a severe case of SWC.

Had a bad bout of SWC, or just don't know a thing about clothes? Arienne will provide a free makeover and wardrobe consultation to anyone in need. You provide the money for clothes, accessories, makeup, etc., and she'll show you how, where and when to shop. E-mail her at at5887a@american.edu for more details.

A Matter of Style runs every other Monday. On March 14 check out the study abroad column, My Two Pence.

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