Fashion Column: Claremont Casual

For a lot of women at the 5Cs, the words “fashion” and “casual” are synonymous. Obviously, the motto “Fashion is Pain” doesn’t fly here. Just in the first few weeks of the semester, I have witnessed several skirts slightly smaller than a postage stamp and a multitude of revealing crop-tops, not to mention excessively ripped “jorts” (jean shorts) and more than a few brassieres hanging out. And this was all in broad daylight, mind you.

Maybe it’s just California style infiltrating the community. With its beach, surf, and sunshine culture, SoCal is notorious for sporting laid-back style (of course bikinis are acceptable, there’s a beach nearby!). And in contrast to the polos, blazers, and tennis skirts of the East Coast, the casual wardrobe and the nonchalant outfit seem to dominate California style. But with so many out-of-state students, why does casual still rule the schools? Perhaps students take this relaxed style into consideration when choosing a college, knowing their own clothes will fit in. Perhaps the laid-back fashions are part of the allure of the 5Cs.

But when did California style take a leap towards leotards and a jump towards “jorts”? Where are the fashion nods to the forties, fifties, and sixties? California, with the entertainment mecca of Hollywood, was once home to classic coiffed beauties like Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, and Judy Garland. These fabulous ladies frequently donned tailored dresses (of appropriate length), over-the-elbow gloves, and accessories of diamonds and heels. Also, don’t forget about their chignons, buns, and curls (hello, Dorothy Gale). When did all this attention to detail, the formal, and the meticulous disappear?

Should we blame the most recent decades for this untailored style? Perhaps we get cut-off jeans and loose flowing tops from the seventies. And look at the eighties – leotard craziness, sequins, shorter-than-short skirts, and crop tops were the norm. On top of that, two words: the nineties. Perhaps the most formidable decade in our lives due to its dominion over our childhoods, the nineties openly encouraged leggings, massive T-shirts, bleached denim, and shredded, grungy wardrobes (thanks, Nirvana).

It’s possible that previous women’s fashions were seen as merely another oppressive factor of a patriarchal society. Thus, as the seventies and decades onwards rolled around, women began to establish themselves as individuals, no longer accepting the idealized feminine mold perpetuated by society and partially represented by nipped skirts, pearls, and perfect hair. And on the hair note, who has the time to spend hours curling her hair every morning anymore? No one, not unless you want to lose two more hours of sleep on top of what little you get as a student.

But what we should really consider is whether this “Claremont California Casual” is truly appropriate for everyday wear. How does a professor feel when a student dons a revealing crop-top in class? Probably uncomfortable. How do some people feel when a girl wanders into the library in a napkin-sized skirt? Possibly distracted. Maybe the rips and the revealing outfits should be left for the weekends (or weeknights, if Pub or TNC are on your schedule).

As history repeats itself, so does fashion. Maybe one day, below-the-knee skirts and full sleeves will again be the norm.

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