“So what are you wearing to the TNC?”
“Oh, you know, just jeans and a going out top… ”
This is an exchange that I have borne witness to far too often in the dorm halls of Claremont McKenna College (CMC). It was my hope and dream that we left the “jeans and a going out top” ensemble back in high school. But since this fashion phenomenon is alive and well across the 5Cs, let’s examine what the students of the Claremont Colleges think of it.
Ruva Kiara CM ’25 brought up the contrast between outfits students wear to class versus going out.
“I think that surprisingly the choices of what people wear [at] night are similar across the 5Cs despite [the fact] that during the day, people dress differently,” Kiara said.
Even though daytime fashion at the 5Cs is clearly distinct and it is easy to identify who goes to Pitzer College versus who goes to Harvey Mudd College, something strange happens after the sun sets. Everyone comes out of the shadows in their jeans and crop tops, mixing into the crowd and disguising themselves.
Still, women’s fashion at the 5Cs still seems to top men’s.
“I feel like [women’s fashion is] more put together than the men’s going out fashion for sure,” Grace Florendo CM ’25 said. “The women definitely have better style across the 5Cs compared to the men.”
One reason, at least at CMC, may be that women don’t have such a deep emotional attachment to their Claremont-Mudd-Scripps shirts, some say …
Now, let’s get something straight: The adjective “basic” does not mean that something is bad — it just means that a lot of people agree that it’s good. As for the “jeans and a going out top” trend, people lean towards it because it’s easy; it’s comfortable and it consists of pieces that most already own. Natalie Owen SC ’25 stressed the benefit of having basic items in a wardrobe.
“I think it can be subversive to be a woman wearing jeans and [a] going out top because in the face of criticism that you might be basic, you’re saying that you don’t care,” Owen said. “That being said, I think that it’s valuable to be more creative sometimes.”
If you are someone who is deeply satisfied with your current party look, more power to you. But I have an underlying fear that there is something more to this than just a lot of people liking the same outfit — there may be some degree of conformity, anxiety and judgment here.
“Just like with the sense of men feeling that they have to dress-down to fit in with their peers, I think that “jeans and a going out top” has been used as a scapegoat for a safe and tested-out option that will not make you stand out or provoke attention from others.”
“I’m really glad that you’re addressing this,” Owen said. “And I think it’s a layered issue that is important to address as you did in your previous article about men’s fashion. It’s important to acknowledge stagnation in fashion.”
Just like with the sense of men feeling that they have to dress-down to fit in with their peers, I think that “jeans and a going out top” has been used as a scapegoat for a safe and tested-out option that will not make you stand out or provoke attention from others.
It’s okay to have an easy go-to — something that you can throw on quickly and feel good in — but what about exploring other options that you may fall in love with? What about creativity, self expression and boldness? Why not give it a try, even just once?
I rarely see anyone sporting a dress to the regular, non-themed weekend bashes, which I think is a noteworthy alternative. “I would say a dress is always a great option because you’re not constricted … by a waistline like from a pair of jeans,” Haley Morton CM ’25 said.
And as for those chilly, fall nights coming up, why not elevate the look of your summer skirt with a pair of funky, patterned tights, leg warmers, or knee high socks? Jackets are also often overlooked, as they are usually used to get to and from the venue, but a leather or jean jacket could be used not only for warmth, but also as an accessory.
There is something to be said for the prioritization of comfort above everything else and conformity to fashion norms that we see at the 5Cs. I seriously encourage everyone to engage in a little introspection and ask yourselves why you choose to dress the way that you do. Is it truly just for you or do you dress for other people? Do you actually not care about fashion or do you just not know where to start?
At the end of the day, your fashion is only a reflection of yourself. Unfortunately, I do not have the power to make everyone care about their style. But if I can inspire a handful of people to explore their creativity and empower them — I consider my job done.
Elizaveta (Lisa) Gorelik CM’25 is from Moscow, Russia. She has to confess that she does in fact own one CMS shirt…