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(Re: Step it up, please) How about tone it down?

| Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ah, the first day of school. I started the day knowing that my sixth semester of college was one of the eight most important semesters of my undergraduate career. It was the day that I would finally reconnect with those who decided to leave the country rather than continue to enjoy the booming metropolis that is South Bend, Indiana. With this in mind, I gladly woke up for my alarm set for 20 minutes before my class started, threw on a pair of leggings, a freshly unfolded T-shirt, running shoes, topped off with a messy bun and just made it to class with enough time to stop by the ABP cart for a muffin. Life was good.

I opted for the more comfortable option. I shouldn’t have to defend myself, but it’s the second week of school and I still have the time, so let’s do it.

I suppose I should apologize for the distraction that was my muted color outfit. Who knew a darker T-shirt with the Notre Dame Football logo could destroy the atmosphere of a seminar class? I’m truly sorry Mr. Hobbes, I hope my leggings did not offend and that we can still be friends.

I am honestly offended that there are some that believe that I have put no thought or effort into my outfit. At a school so heavily focused on academics, how could I not spend 30 minutes carefully crafting my “look” for the day? After all, I am known as the fashionable one within my circles.

And what about my professors? What would they think, seeing me, one out of 150 people in the lecture hall, clashing? The College of Engineering would not stand for that, and I would surely be stripped of my major. Everyone knows you can’t even swipe into Fitzpatrick after midnight without proper attire!

All kidding aside, my choice of outfit is important to me and has literally no correlation with my academic ability. My pride lies in the student that I am and not in the clothes I wear to class.

Let me preface my next few statements by saying I respect those who do take the time to dress up. It is clearly important to some, and I do not want to detract from people who take the time to look pretty dang good in the mornings. I’m simply here to rebuke the statement that I don’t care about my academics because of how I dress.

We’re all at a hard school, there’s no denying it. As a full-time student with two on-campus jobs, I’m working more than a 40-hour work week — and I am not alone in this. I need all the help I can get to complete the week and not fall behind for the next in an efficient and effective manner. I don’t see spending 20 minutes picking out a unique outfit and another 10 doing makeup, plus time to eat breakfast (can’t learn on an empty stomach!) as an efficient use of my time. I would rather prioritize both being able to work later and to sleep longer over planning elaborate appearances, and no article by a former GQ editor will convince me otherwise. If I had 30 free minutes in a day, I would spend it working on my physical health rather than my physical appearance. Sleep promotes positive physical and mental health, and I need as many things on my side as I can get these days.

Another point, who doesn’t enjoy being comfortable? I’ve got the rest of my life to both own and wear pantsuits; I’m going to wear my leggings loud and proud while I still can. My comfortable outfit choice is another person’s “dress well, test well.” I don’t feel that I should be belittled and made to feel like my academic ability is less than that of someone who is wearing “real” pants. I attend every lecture; I stop in to office hours; I perform well on tests and assignments, and I strive to be the best student I can be. The way I dress in class by no means detracts from my academic experience nor my self respect. I would hope that my professors would formulate their opinions based on my attendance and participation in class, as well as conversations outside of class, rather than the way I dress.

Many companies, including Facebook, Quicken Loans, AOL, Apple, and even LinkedIn, have adopted casual dress policies. One of Google’s 10 principle philosophies is “you can be serious without a suit.” If executives at Google regularly wear jeans to the office, why shouldn’t I be able to wear jeans to class?

With the amount of work that all students at Notre Dame put in to get here and stay here, it is belittling to claim that a person who does not prioritize their appearance does not take their education seriously. Everyone has the right to wear what they want; don’t chastise my outfit because it didn’t take me as long to pick it. After all, I only have 20 minutes to get to class after my alarm goes off.

At the end of the day, my mom is proud of me, and she doesn’t even know what I wore on the first day of school.

Sarah Castillo


Jan. 23

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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