The Reason Clothes Matter: The First Day of School

Another outfit that undoubtedly requires contemplation is what to wear on the first day of school. Obviously, second year of college the outfit isn’t as big of a deal, and you’re only making a genuine first impression on a fraction of the people in your class (especially at a small liberal arts type of school). So, no, first day of classes outfit does not require the same level of deliberation as other outfits, it’s also not a day people tend to just roll out of bed either. Even my male friends have admitted to putting slightly more thought into their apparel than they ordinarily would, as they are fully cognizant of the fact that there will be some type of impression made.

The question of what to wear on the first day of school encapsulates the entire idea of why we wear what we wear. It’s another outfit that requires balance—the level of blank slate versus exhibition of personality. Obviously you want to make some type of statement about who you are as an individual, but not make so strong a statement that people don’t feel a need to get to know you beyond your clothes. You know that in this moment, in this outfit you are saying something about yourself, and you are the master of your own first impression, able to make people think that you are any type of person.

For my freshman year of high school, I remember this same debate running through my mind. I remember thinking back to High School movies and the stereotypes that every single individual portrayed in them seemed to adhere to, and not wanting to be thought of as strictly any of them. I wanted my peers to think of me as a blank slate, someone who they would have to get to know in order to think they knew me at all. With the desire to be a tabula rasa in mind, I opted for a white tee-shirt, Converse low-tops and blue jeans. I didn’t know who I was at 15, so I wasn’t about to make a strong statement about it. You can’t make an argument if you don’t know what to say, so I opted to keep quiet.

This time around, I didn’t labor over things as much. I am still obviously over-analytical, but I’m slightly less anal ie give a few less fucks than I did back then. It was only somewhat serendipitous, therefore that my first day of school outfit this year was reminiscent of what I had worn back then. The same principle of not wanting to be judged too much still held true, but I also did want people to be somewhat more aware of who I was as an individual, because I was more aware of who I was as well.

I had been feeling the skirt from the get-go, but finding a top to balance out the volume without being too skanky or too flowy was the mission of the morning. The winner ended up being this nicely long Victoria’s Secret crop I got from the thrift store. The basic-ness of such an ensemble was amended by the addition of the sandals. Not the boldest of outfits, but still exhibiting some form of communication. Studded bright orange Steve Maddens to me say “I’m really fun and sturdy enough to be relied upon, but also don’t fuck with me. Also I’m cute.” Or at least that’s what the shoes were saying to me. There’s something I find very true about this statement in regards to myself, so I let my sandals do some of the talking for me.

Clearly there’s a lot more that goes into a first impression than just the outfit. (Interestingly enough everyone I met on the first day of high school thought I was a bitch, so my attempt to transcend judgment was clearly unsuccessful.) However, the part clothing plays in the first moment of meeting someone is undeniable, and balancing the first impression is essential.