What not to wear on campus
The education may be higher, but the fashion isn't.
August 31st, 2012
04:10 AM ET

What not to wear on campus

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - Nothing is further from "Project Runway" than a college campus.

It's true that not every lecture is delivered by a renowned virtuoso, and not every gathering is a frat formal. But it's also true that a lot of students look terrible.

You can help the ones you know clean up a bit by avoiding these common sartorial snafus.

Wearing pajamas when you're not in bed

It's hard to say when jeans became too dressy. It was probably sometime in the '90s. That's when people turned to Zubaz. (Zubaz were conceived when Hammer Pants mated with a zebra or one of its predators.) If you wore Zubaz, you might as well have been wearing pajamas. Hence, pajamas in class.

Here's the thing: No woman ever looks back on her college days and wishes she looked worse. Why do you wanna start behind the eight ball sleeping through Psychology 101 in Spongebob PJs?

For your high school prom, you paid $25 for the ticket and dressed to the nines. If you're gonna spend $8,000 a year on higher education, don't dress for Hulu and cold pizza.

Not covering your butt

If leggings alone don't - and they don't - two things are gonna happen: The girls in class are gonna make fun of you, and the guys in class are gonna make fun of you (but in a dirtier way.)

You're in class to learn. And even if you're there to attract guys, they're college guys, so you don't have to try very hard. Wearing yoga pants outside of yoga is trying very hard.

It's true that guys fall behind in this area, too. While jeans are actually designed to cover backsides, some folks would rather wear them on their thighs and let their boxers bring up the rear.

A belt is less costly than disgrace.

So the "bottom" line here (get it?):  If the garment has a place for your butt, place your butt there. And if you wear it to sweat in or sleep in, don't wear it to your lecture. That way, no one will have to lecture you on looking clothed.


Not sure who told you these looked good, but they don't. (If you disagree, see the picture above.)

Look, mandals are fine for the cruise, the beach, the pool, and the shower...'cause even a "fun guy" doesn't want a fungus! Heh heh.

But unless you attend the University of Miami, cover your toes. No guy has sexy toes. Some say that no guy should. The girl in sociology who thinks you're cute isn't gonna swoon for feet. And if she does, yikes.


Ugh. When did Tucson become Siberia? Your feet have never been cold enough for tundra togs.

Lindsey Davis at Dailycollegian.com calls Uggs "this generation's sweatpants." It's true that they're comfortable. They're nice and secure and warm. They're kinda like footie pajamas.

But if they're all you ever wear, then you're gonna be every girl on campus. Is that who you wanna be? Of course not.


Nothing makes a statement like a skullcap. And that statement is, "I'm too lazy to put water in my hair."

For winter semester at Syracuse, these are fine. For cage fighters with cauliflower ear, these are more fine.

For guys who use them to solve bedhead, these are not fine.

Socks with sandals

Oh, come on.

Wearing the same jeans/shirt/shorts 3+ days in a row

This is not a sartorial issue. It's an olfactory one.

I know you don't care what people think. You are your own man/woman. You are a pioneer. You are an island.

And you will remain one if you stink. Your philosophy professor may wear a five-year beard, smell like a middle school gym and take you to a higher intellectual plane. But your body is still down here, and other students have to sit near it.

Many of today's commercial washing machines take credit, so you have no excuse. Three days in a row? Just say no.

Popped collars

The 26-year-old male model who's wearing a quart of airbrushed makeup and posing by the art building is working. So is the woman photographing him. They work for the Gap.

Now maybe you also work for the Gap, but not as a model. And I guarantee that lime green polo with the collar sticking up isn't working for you.

There is at least one entire website dedicated to the type of guy who wears a popped collar. Don't be that guy.

Staying oblivious

I managed to do this my entire freshman year. My feet weren't just tortured with Tevas and socks. They were tortured with Tevas and argyles. (One girl hung out with me out of pity; the rest kept their distance.)

My guess is that you're also guilty of at least one of the above. And that was fine for high school, assuming it didn't violate your dress code.  But you're in college now.

It's true that discovery is all part of the college experience. Women will discover that guys love plaid shorts, sleeveless shirts, beer logos and burping. Men will discover that women can also be disgusting at an 8:45 a.m. lecture  after a late night.

But one thing everyone should discover: the benefits of cleaning up. It's always good thing, even if it means wearing something your mother likes to see you in.

Got any bad memories of what you - or "this person you knew" - wore in college? Share them in the Comments section below.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Keely

    I completely agree on the whole keep your pants ON topic. It urges me to say something to the people who sag the pants, but it does make you, or at least me, very intimitaded. And the pajamas, come on, what person in their right mind would wear pjs to school. It would count as taking a social suicide, honestly, come on people. The socks and sandals, I have to say they ar every popular these days. Just look iniside a middle school and I bet that 3/4 pf the boys wouold be wearing that if they didn't have PE. It is amazing what people wera these days just to follow the trends.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  2. Chris

    So the moral of the story is Don't be yourself, dress and be like everyone else? Ones man junk, is another mans treasure. Same concept applies. You don't have to like how people express themselves but you have to respect their right. Who cares how people dress people need to get over it. I only wear jeans and black/gray tshirts according to these logics in this article im a bad dresser because i feel comfortable in average clothing?

    September 5, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  3. Spinner49

    Jingley, jangly bracelets and jewelry! I used to hate sitting anywhere near someone wearing jewelry that made so much noise every time she moved it was hard to hear the professor.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  4. Ann

    Jeans, sneakers, a white t-neck, and a Penn State sweatshirt was my uniform practically every day. I WISH I'd taken advantage of the years I had a college student's great body and dressed up a little more!

    The pajama thing baffles me. So does the sagging pants thing. Ugh.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  5. Lost

    I dressed like Christie Brinkley (sporting her "uptown girl" style) while in college. Snazzy and classy.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  6. Jay Scott

    It's funny reading the comments of 2012 college students using the same shallow, condescending, self-important, ignorant, worn-out mantra we used in the late 1960's when older folks criticized our ridiculous bellbottoms, long hair, no deoderant, scraggly bearded, follow-the- crowd thinking "I am my own person"look. Like the 2012 crowd we chanted "Only shallow people judge people by their appearance. I can dress any way I please." When you slouch your three days without a shave, reeking mandles, sleeveless t-shirt,watch-capped self into an interview and don't get hired, you'll just have to grow up like we did. In the meantime, enjoy your youth and upsetting the older generation.

    September 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Jay Scott

      Now that I'm a 60-something year old teacher and officially an old fart, I love to play this game on my high school students. They are always offended by the results.

      "Raise your hand if you are independent, not influenced by others, think for yourself, don't follow the crowd."

      100% of the students raise their hands.

      "Keep your hand up if are not wearing some form of denim, a t-shirt with writing on it, athletic shoes and a hoodie."

      Maybe a hand or two remains raised.

      Reminds me of a 1970's Dr. Pepper ad:
      "I drink Dr. Pepper and I'm proud
      I'm part of an ORIGINAL CROWD
      Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper,too?

      An ORIGINAL CROWD? Sounds like a contradiction of terms.

      Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote in "To A Field Mouse"
      (modern English translation of the lines)

      I wish some Power would give us the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us..."

      Even us old fart teachers. : )

      September 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • Jay Scott

        Forgive me, Robert Burns. "To A Louse Upon Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet In Church"

        September 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  7. mooomoo

    I never understood what was wrong with a popped up collar on a shirt.
    I really just don't care about it, I may even prefer it to cover my neck!
    Explain to me why you care, and who "that guy" is?

    September 3, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • mooomoo

      Well I should also mention I don't wear polo's.
      Just a button-up shirt.

      September 3, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  8. Al Clayborn

    Don't forget the right pair of shoes 🙂 justheelsmall.com

    September 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  9. Melinda Jetireson


    September 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  10. Arafly

    In my humble opinion, the only people you should worry about impressing in college are your professors, if you care. The only part I agree with (out of personal, eye-scarring thong experience) is the cover your butt part.

    I wore jeans, black tank-tops and sneakers every day (always clean, though) and didn't give a crap. I saw women trying to wear "nice" shoes or jeans so tight that they could barely walk to class. You want to be comfortable so you can pay attention to class, not to your wedgie or sore feet. People who judge you on your yoga pants or beanie hat are not worth your time unless you actually care about making an impression.

    September 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  11. One of the Young Autistic Men

    There is a time and place for wearing mandals. Nothing's wrong with wearing mandals in a lecture class unless doing a presentation. A person probably should not wear that type of footwear in a chemistry laboratory class or a chemistry research fellowship. Of course, most student in college do not take a chemistry laboratory class or a chemistry research fellowship.

    The list shows socks in sandals as what not to wear in campus. I did wear socks in sandals a few times in high school. I wore socks in sandals to take pride of being a dork. However, I never wear socks in sandals at college because I did not have sandals during my college years.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  12. Walter R.

    As a 20-year old college student, this had me crying. Neon is experiencing a very strange resurgence and should also make this list. Nobody looks good dressed as a pack of mixed hilighters.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  13. OSU alum 84

    Taking a shot at flip flops is just flat uncivil. Shoes and socks in the summer....REALLY??

    September 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Nick

    When did a lax dress code become such a big deal. I can understand if the attire is so crazy it pulls attention away from learning, but its not the serious.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  15. andrew

    nothing wrong with sandals or "mandles" as you call them. Quite common casual footwear. At least in the places i've lived, CA and GA.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Allie

      I agree!

      August 31, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. msp

    20 year olds look good no matter what they are wearing.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  17. Red in Austin

    When did house slippers become outdoor footwear? I don't know how many college kids I saw walking around in either those walmart-old-lady flip-flop types or the "If you squint your eyes these kinda look like loafers" types. They are not real shoes! Stop wearing them outside your home!

    August 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  18. T

    Whatever happened to the classic Ivy look ?
    Sportscoats, penny loafers, oxford collar shirts, clean jeans / Khaki pants, classic plain white sneakers...etc.

    What's the appeal of dressing like slobs or looking like someone out of a '80s version of a post-apocalyptic action movie.

    I remember some of those "fashion" crap I seen the kids wear these days like open sandals (hello, germs, cuts and infection !) or socks with sandals (it looks even worse !), Zubaz pants (what idiot came up with that junk ?), popped collars (remember THAT from the '80s), wearing the same shirt/short/pants constantly for three days or more will lose your friends REAL quick, another thing skullcaps are just stupid, period !, for women – Uggs belong in your home, not out and about unless you're on ice planet Hoth.

    And, lastly, keep your pants at waist level, not below where your butt / shorts are at – I remember seeing this idiot slob who had that look on a bus once – wanted to head-slap the fool. YEESH !

    August 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Mountainmama

    I'm a professor and this made me laugh–so true. I'm puzzling over the big neon sneakers this fall. Not a good look on anyone. And the muffin tops REALLY need to go.

    August 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  20. me

    over-sized shirt and nike running shorts.....come on sorority girls, your not fooling anyone, you dont work out.

    August 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  21. TeeJay

    When did neon come back in style? It should stay in the 80s. Egads!

    August 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Linda

      I have always thought neon colored shoes belonged with the little kids, like under 10 years old. My opinion is and always been that adults have no business wearing neon colored shoes, end of discussion.

      September 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  22. johnharry

    Please stop worrying about how other people dress. Just keep judging people how you always do, without saying a word. just worry about yourself. dont like it take online classes.

    August 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  23. wow

    lol...got news for you...most women should nto wear sandles either...or Uggs.

    August 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  24. brenda

    Crocs and black socks!

    August 31, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  25. Janet Abercrombie

    I was probably guilty of most of the things you stated above. That said, my 20-year-old figure looked good in just about anything.

    Not so much anymore...

    Janet | expateducator.com

    August 31, 2012 at 5:48 am |