Oberlin Blogs

A Fashion Destination Unto Itself

April 16, 2024

Daniela Sueiro '27

As I probably mention too often, I grew up in New York City. While my immediate neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, wasn’t exactly a fashion destination, the second one surfaced from the subway in Manhattan, the air was thick with statement choices and intentional fits, ranging from artsy to hardcore corporate. I think I grew immune to being shocked by anyone’s clothing choices quite early on. My high school, in Midtown Manhattan, hosted a typical New York City array of aesthetics, as well. 

Coming here, to Oberlin, I found a new kind of fashion environment. People have a very wide range of styles, here, too, but I’d hesitate to draw a direct comparison to the New York habitat I was raised in. Here, I think the artsiness, edginess, softness and boldness of people’s fashion choices are far less…outwards-facing, if that makes sense. They’re just as visual, but they feel less like an attempt to define oneself in a swarming, overcrowded city, and more like a simple expression of self-exploration for one’s own enjoyment. 

This is all brought on by a variety of conversations I’ve had at some Oberlin events lately, all starting with the classic liberal arts “I feel like I’ve seen you around.” In the past few such conversations, people have mentioned seeing my fashion choices, too, which startled me somewhat (keep in mind, there is also much more anonymity in a big city [also, I like the way I dress, but compared to some of the freaking goddesses we have out here?? please]).

It got me thinking-- just how many of us here at Oberlin spend our time admiring what others are wearing? I know that my walks and bike rides to classes and dining halls pass scenic grassy quads and traditional (and some non-traditional) dorms and libraries, but would they be the same if they were not populated with the colorful and diverse expressions of our student body? It’s truly a joy to see all of the creativity that gets expressed on this everyday level here. And, speaking to many of my friends who grew up in more suburban or rural settings, Oberlin truly is a fashion haven like no other-- it’s not that you find a niche here, it’s that you can bring your own into existence, and there’s plenty of space for it. 

Whether you like your comfort sweatshirt and jeans and will wear them (hopefully with some rotation) every day, commit to a subculture aesthetic with a passion, or, like me, just like your outfits with a bit of fun, I think you’ll find room for that here. There’s neither a need to conform (honestly, I can’t even think of a baseline to conform to here) nor to elbow your way in with a unique fashion edge. If you dress how you like, I think Oberlin will like it, too.

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