How AU’s culture influences students’ fashion choices

AU’s unique internship culture creates an eclectic blend of styles on campus

How AU’s culture influences students’ fashion choices
AU students walking on campus

Take a stroll across campus and you’re guaranteed to see a variety of fashion choices. From the business casual students returning from internships to the common laid-back look of jeans and a T-shirt, AU students do not fit a singular mold when it comes to their styles.

What Does Comfort Mean For AU Students?

While baggy sweatpants are often viewed as the go-to choice for comfy clothes, some students have different ideas of what comfort means to them.

Sophomore Allie LaTorra said she feels most comfortable in a dress because it’s the “easiest thing to wear.” LaTorra, who wakes up early to plan her outfits, said she tends to “dress up” four times a week and “dress down” for the rest of the week. For LaTorra, dressing down means wearing jeans or leggings.

“I think I typically try to try,” LaTorra said.

Allie LaTorra.png

On the other hand, junior Blair Abington said that comfort to her means wearing “looser clothing,” such as oversized sweatshirts and T-shirts. 

Abington said that she does feel like a lot of people dress up for class because it’s a part of AU’s culture. However, she still wears what makes her feel best.

“I just like being able to feel comfortable,” Abington said. “I feel like I learn better.”

Sophomore Natalie Senft, one of the co-presidents of Revolution: The AU Fashion Society, said she is a big fan of wearing athleisure. Athleisure is a more recent style trend characterized by wearing workout clothes in everyday life instead of just for working out.

“Athleisure is my go-to because I feel put together,” Senft said. “It’s like I’m about to go workout, but I’m not.”

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Is AU a Fashionable Campus?

Sophomore Molly Molloy, Revolution’s events coordinator, thinks that AU is a fashionable campus. Molloy said that when she came to AU, she was excited to see that people “look good” for class. Molloy describes AU’s overall style as a mix of thrifty, ‘90s and preppy vibes. 

LaTorra, on the other hand, does not think AU is a universally fashionable campus. She believes that the standard of fashion is different for men and women on AU’s campus.

LaTorra said that she often finds inspiration from other women on campus. However, when it comes to men’s fashion choices, she doesn’t feel that same inspiration.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything past a sweatshirt or the penguin march of all the suits during internship season,” LaTorra said in regards to male fashion choices.

There are also debates over how students in different schools on AU’s campus perceive each other’s styles. 

“Kogod is very dressed up for classes,” Senft said from her experience as a business administration major.

Additionally, students’ class schedules often dictate what they wear. 

Junior Liam Gilpin said that he notices a contrast between students in early morning classes who have just woken up and  students in afternoon classes who may be already wearing internship clothes.

Molloy said that for early classes, she prefers to wear jeans and a T-shirt or athleisure, but if she wears a nice outfit, she wants her makeup to match. Molloy does not usually end up wearing makeup to an 8:10 morning class, which is why she keeps her outfits for her early days more casual.

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The Impact of AU’s Internship Culture on Student Fashion

AU’s internship culture infiltrates the campus climate as a whole, which in turn impacts students’ fashion choices. According to statistics from the Career Center, over 91 percent of undergraduate students complete at least one internship before graduation and 56 percent of graduate students complete at least one internship before graduation. 

Balancing an internship with a class schedule means that there’s often not time to change in between class and work. For Gilpin, who interns 24 hours per week on top of his four classes, this happens on Wednesdays. Gilpin leaves his internship at 4:30 p.m. so he can arrive on time for a 5:30 p.m. block class. Before getting his own internship, Gilpin said that seeing students wearing their internship clothes on campus used to be a “visual pressure” for him.

“When you don’t have an internship and you see people in dress attire, it’s kind of like reminding you, ‘Oh, I have to get on that,’” Gilpin said.

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D.C. culture also has an impact on what students choose to wear. Abington said that while she does not particularly care what she wears to class, she feels that she has to dress up when she’s in public because other people in the city do.

“I’ve walked around Tenleytown in sweatpants because I walk dogs, and I swear people look at me like, ‘Who is this person?’” Abington said. 

When it comes to choosing what to wear every day, AU students make diverse choices. Molloy and Senft said that students do not have to feel confined to follow a specific style when choosing their outfits every day. 

“You can literally wear whatever you want here,” Molloy said.

Senft agreed with this sentiment.

“I feel like there’s so many different types of styles on campus, and it’s not about brands,” Senft said. “It’s about sharing who you are.”

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