After a year and a half of online school in pajamas, students are now finally able to show off their new clothes, causing a wave of unique and eccentric fashion across campus.
Since the start of fall semester classes on Aug. 30, campus has been lit up with an array of different trends and styles sported by students of all years. Biker shorts, sweater vests, matching sets, tote bags and high-waist straight leg pants are just some of the trends being welcomed to campus along with first and second-year students.
Ellyana Willis, a first-year student decked out in Dr. Martens and a bright orange vintage suit, said she was eager to flaunt her new outfits from quarantine.
“[Coming back to classes] has made me step out a bit more,” Willis, 19, said. “I want to wear all of the fun clothes I bought over quarantine. I’ve definitely been dressing up more, obviously, than when I was in online classes.”
After a year and a half of online school, students were left to digital platforms to connect with the outside world. Apps like Pinterest, Instagram and Depop — which give users the ability to share and sell clothing — became a resource for students eager to express themselves through their fashion choices.
“[Quarantine] impacted my style a lot actually, since I was spending more time online,” Abi Knippel, a second-year student, told The Phoenix. “I was making Pinterest boards and seeing new styles on Instagram and accumulating what I like.”
Social media sites, especially TikTok, have allowed for an emergence of numerous micro-trends to become more widespread, including throwback Y2K fashion.
While low-rise jeans and baby tees may not be for everyone, there are plenty of other aesthetics that have become more mainstream, such as dark academia — an aesthetic inspired by ancient Greek and Gothic architecture — as well as classical art and literature, or cottagecore, which takes inspiration from a romantic rural countryside. Knippel, who was wearing slip-on gray vans and green overalls, would describe their style as the latter.
“My sense of style is mostly just comfortable clothing to me, things that I thought looked cool or wanted to wear in high school [but was] too afraid to,” Knippel, 19, said. “I grew up in a really conservative town so kids were really mean if you dressed differently. That’s why I love being here — I can wear whatever I want.”
For some students at Loyola, finding an aesthetic style they’re comfortable in is just the tip of the iceberg. Fashion has also served as a creative outlet that lets students push the boundaries of their confidence and individualism.
“It’s an extension of my artistic expression,” Willis, a visual communications and studio art major, said. “I love using lots of color in my artwork and I also like dressing with lots of color.”
Success in the workplace ties to fashion more than some may think. A study from Northwestern University suggests a correlation between the outfits you wear and your academic performance.
“If I dress well, then I can go about my day more focused,” Afraz Iqbal, a junior, told The Phoenix. “[Fashion] is an overall morale booster and helps with my confidence too.”
As demand for an impressive closet grows, the cost of clothing and its impact on students’ wallets has become an underlying issue seldom discussed. Despite this, students are not letting money stop them from feeling comfortable in their style.
“The price of the clothing doesn’t matter, it’s how you wear it that matters,” said Ethan Saquimux, a third-year student and fan of streetwear. “If I put on a nice outfit, I feel less insecure about myself.”