By Can Altunkaynak
With denim overalls, 90s shirts and guys painting their nails, Lewis & Clark definitely has its own culture when it comes to fashion. But how is this fashion different compared to other parts of the States and the world? And how do freshmen adapt to it?
Abdulrahman Al Rayyis ’22, a student from Erbil, Iraq, noticed that one pattern in Portland’s sense of fashion is that it is relaxed.
“Back home people dress up more formally when they go to school,” Al Rayyis said. “Here, however, people can wear pajamas, sweatshirts. It is a difficult transition but I am getting used to it. It looks like people are more comfortable with the way they dress here. Whereas back home, it would be disrespectful to dress like this, both to yourself and to the people around you.”
As a matter of fact, many cultures also have certain ways of dressing as a part of a stricter etiquette. This makes it harder for some international and American students to adapt to LC’s way of dressing.
“For the fashion I would say the people on the West Coast and in Portland have a more individualistic and unique style,” Claire Mandelsohn ’22 said. “Whereas in Boston and on the East Coast people will wear whatever is popular.”
Many talk about the differences between both coasts on various fashion blogs and it is interesting to consider that some of Portland’s fashion could overlap with West Coast’s
broader sense of fashion. Thus, the styles at LC do not surprise every person to the same extent.
“I think that college in general, whether it is East Coast or on the West, is a place where people discover what they enjoy wearing, how they want to express themselves,” Mandelsohn said.
“I feel like I have not seen that many things that are really different than where I am from,” Brynne Anderson ’22 said. She is from Albuquerque, N.M. “I was more surprised that people had a similar sense of style on campus. I was more expecting it to be a wide range of styles.”
The pattern seems to be correlated with geographical proximity. Similar sense of style amongst students might be related to isolation from the city on a college campus in which students create their own community. However, not everyone follows the general trends.
In Mandelsohn’s view, this explains why the way students are dressed might be different than the people in downtown Portland.
Lastly, financial resources
play an important role in fashion trends. If people do not have the means to buy clothes, it is hard to talk about fashion trends. Thus, it is easier to come by different styles and an overall understanding of fashion in Portland and at LC as people are comparatively well-off. Even if they were not, the thrift shop culture gives students the opportunity to be fashionable with spending little money on clothes.
Al Rayyis commented on this financial factor comparing Portland with the town he has studied for two years.
“I lived in a small town in New Mexico where people retired,” Al Rayyis said. “There, people were poorer and older and they did not really care about what they wore. Here people put more effort into the way they dress because it is a richer area and there are more younger people here.”
Indeed, Portland has a significant young population with different financial backgrounds. This is also true for the LC campus. Many students buy clothes and accessories from downtown shops, vintage shops, and thrift shops, further diversifying the fashion on campus. Some students adapt to Portland’s sense of fashion, others stick to their own and some create a mix between both.