In Janice Ian voice: “Here, this post is going to be your guide to Cornell’s fashion scene. Now, how you dress on campus is crucial, because you have everybody there. You have your freshmen, ROTC guys, preppy WASPS, JV jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, varsity jocks, sexually active band geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet (FEMINIST, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY STUDIES MAJORS), and the worst (the pre-professionals who have their entire lives, their children’s lives, and their great grandchildren’s lives all planned out). Beware of the pre-professionals.
Being a university comprised of over 20,000 undergraduates and graduate students, Cornell boasts an eclectic assortment of fashion styles—ranging from J.Crew Preppy to Thrift Store Quirky to Cornell Apparel Chic to “I give up” sweats. Some students—like myself—spend hours figuring out their outfit for the following morning, whereas others turn off their alarms and rush to their 8am class while still in their pajamas. With such a diverse range of aesthetics, Cornell is the mecca of haute couture and Carnelian-red sweats.
*While it may be problematic and inappropriate to stereotype specific majors/schools into particular aesthetic categories, I will do just that:
The students who strut around campus in their quirky, faux-hipster attire. As a former English major and current Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major, I can state, without a doubt, that humanities students have a desire to avoid conformity. Whether it be through the stain glass patterned circular glasses that they wear, the vintage denim jackets with two missing buttons, or the black combat boots with the scratched and muddied front, humanities students represent the “Williamsburg café wanderer meets prep school intellectual” look.
Colloquially referred to as “the geniuses who give zero CHUCKS,” engineering students have a tendency to be seen wearing striking red Cornell apparel, t-shirts on khaki shorts or blue-jeans, and (as I’ve seen on numerous occasions) knee high white Adidas socks on khaki-colored open toed sandals. While some would consider these approaches as fashion faux-pas, I like to think of Engineers as the true non-conformists—the ones who literally say “screw societal conventions” and continue to walk around in comfortable bliss.
It might be a stretch to lump these two into a single set, but considering the amount of athlete Greeks with whom I am acquainted, I will continue using this grouping. Athletes and Greeks, alike, are known as the students who “go hard core with the letters/logo reppings”—by which people are referring to the Greek letters and sports team labels present on Greek apparel and varsity jackets, respectively. Greeks love to boast their letters via their tote bags and sweaters. Athletes love to show off their oatmeal-colored knitted sweaters with the single Carnelian-colored C stitched across the center.
To clarify, pre-professionals include, but are not limited to, Hotel students, Communication students, Applied Economics and Management students, Policy Analysis and Management students, and Industrial Labor Relations students. They’re the ones who rock the preppy and polished look. Think J.Crew and Vineyard Vines meets the Ivy Look Book. Some have their organizers in one hand and a venti Starbucks hot latte in the other. Some of the majors even have specific days in which students are expected to wear certain attire. Parodying Karen from Mean Girls, “On Fridays, we (Hotelies) wear suits.”
And then we have the students who, literally, major in fashion design. There’s truly no single way to describe their looks, although I’ll try. Innovative. Trend-setting. Inspired. They pair patterns that I would have never even considered pairing. They choose fabrics that are fashionable, yet functional. They go for the haute couture and chic looks, while also maintaining their unique flares that are absent within the current fashion sphere. They truly are the fashion icons of Cornell.
And there we have it, a concise—and truly unfinished—guide to the Cornell fashion scene. And if you feel unnerved by the multitude of different themes, just remember one important motto: Dress for yourself, not for others.