Following the success of our pilot Challenges article in issue #245, our brand-new contributor Caspar Barnes let his vengeful housemates dress him for the day. It can’t have been that bad, right? Well…
I persistently, and sometimes brutally, tease one of my housemates fashion sense. So the idea of letting him choose what I wear for whole day at university was painstakingly daunting to the extent that I only actually followed through with my challenge due to a considerable amount of peer-pressure.
“I was lucky a rogue pair of crocs didn’t appear out of the woodwork, although I’m sure he owns a pair”
Of course, my housemate gleefully accepted the opportunity to potentially inflict social suicide on me and proceeded to carefully construct a ridiculous costume of atrocious garb for me to wear. To put this into context, my housemate is five years my senior and the last time he bought an item of clothing was 2009. His wardrobe is a worrisome collection of high-tops, vests, V-necks, multi-coloured snapbacks, levered Kanye West-style sunglasses and to top it all off, fingerless gloves. I was lucky a rogue pair of crocs didn’t appear out of the woodwork, although I’m sure he owns a pair.
After a restless night of nervous anxiety, I shuffled into my 10am lecture red-faced, head-bowed and looking like I’d just been thrown-up by the Noughties. And to make matters worse, this was my first lecture for a subsidiary module, where I knew no one.
“It seemed liked everyone was too busy feeling the exact same underlying insecurity to have time to judge me”
What happened throughout the rest of the day shocked me. Of course, there were looks and I got the occasional comment but generally people didn’t really seem to notice. On a normal day, I think we all share a constant feeling of underlying insecurity while walking around university, especially when you’re alone or pacing into a lecture.
However, on this day, because I felt that justifiably I’d be the centre of ridicule, it shocked me that I wasn’t. I’d envisaged pointing figures and mocking laughter but it seemed like everyone was too busy feeling the exact same underlying insecurity to have time to judge me.
What’s more, it was nice not to hide behind my usual, slightly alienating uniform of branded sporty blackness because, undeniably, at Nottingham what we wear highlights the social group we fit into. The cool kids don puffer jackets, the sports crews wear their stash, fitness fanatics live in gym wear and alternatives dress in just about anything to distinguish themselves from the aforementioned groups.
Since I wasn’t trying to fit into the typical Nike-and-Adidas-clad Nottingham sports lad look, the new people I met, in my subsids and out, were much more receptive to me. And I was more receptive to them, regardless of what they were wearing.
“what you were is important, but it’s not the be all and end all”
So I’d definitely recommend this challenge to anyone who’s quick to judge someone’s outfit because it made me realise that what you wear is important, but it’s not the be all and end all (Ed: I wonder what Impact Style will have to say about that).
And as I handed the pile of clothes back to my housemate, they didn’t seem quite so atrocious, and although Crocs still are pretty unacceptable, I couldn’t help but think of that age-old cheesy saying of “don’t judge a book by its cover” because, ultimately, clothes really are just a cover.
Featured image ‘Crocs: at the blue lagoon spa’ by Elizabeth Ellis on Flickr (licence)
Body image courtesy of Caspar Barnes
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