The second edition of Fashion Editor Paul McLauchlan’s monthly column sees him wear a suit to college every day for a week to see how students respond to seeing formalwear amongst the more casual, conventional styles worn on campus .
For my second wardrobe experiment, I wanted to wear a suit to college for a week.
To those that know me, this won’t come as much of a surprise. I choose blazers over jackets most days of the week but this took things up a notch.
I love my suit. I purchased it in Topman for my graduation ball in 6th year. It’s black, slim-fit, comes with faux pocket details and two convenient inside pockets to avoid the awkward bulge of a wallet or iPhone in the pants pockets in photos. I own two other grey blazers, one from Topman, and another, a woman’s size 16 procured for €5 in a charity shop (the accompanying wide-leg trousers have yet to be tailored and failed to make it to this column page.)
On Monday, September 30, I arrived to college in my black suit, a white shirt and a tie. Yes, I showed up to the Fashion Society’s EGM looking like an undertaker. I thoroughly amused myself. ‘I don’t usually dress like this,’ I assured a confused crowd, as I represented Motley. ‘You are hilariously overdressed,’ chimed one friend, before the outfit. Others appreciated the smartness, checking in daily to see where the suit would go next.
For the second day, I swapped a white shirt for a black one, a skinny tie for a bow tie.
Here’s the thing, wearing a suit for five days is too suffocating—shirt collars are tight, shoes are a bit too tight. Boohoo, I know.
I’m guilty, like many reading this, of owning too much clothes. Especially t-shirts. So many t-shirts. You can understand why I don’t want to be bound to one look for an entire week. I love the polish and tidiness of tailoring but I cannot come to terms with the rigidity of the dress code. Shirt, fully buttoned; tie, tightly fastened. Black dress socks. Dress shoes, laced-up.
It’s why I deviated from the full suit look by day three because dress codes are outdated. Does anyone really follow them anymore? My pet peeve: white socks with black shoes—everywhere. My biggest pet peeve: white socks with dress shoes— ubiquitous. So I might as well ditch the shirt and tie and get creative.
The first iterations drew the biggest response. People took longer looks than they did with last month’s Birkenstocks. Why exactly was I wearing a suit to college? Did I have a funeral to attend? Work to go to? I’m not sure if anyone figured out but it was certainly a talking point.
For the third day, a grey blazer and some black pants were balanced with an urban element: a black H&M hoodie (the hoodie was an appreciated addition, according to spectators – comfort first, again). On Thursday, an oversized Etro shirt (€8 in a charity shop) entered the mix with black Nike Air Force Ones. By Friday, with the weekend approaching, I questioned how to push the suit to its smart casual finest (there’s also something about wearing a shirt everyday that gets a bit old). A white t-shirt and blue jeans. A far cry from Monday’s black and white ensemble. No shirt, no tie. Of all the outfits, in this one, I felt the most like myself.
Would I wear a suit again? To college, I’ll probably reserve it for clubs and socs balls rather than ping-ponging between lectures across campus. Yes, like many, I’ll probably have to in an office environment. Hopefully that will come with a nice paycheck so I can have multiple suit options to choose from to prevent boredom. Will you wear a tux to college? Suit yourself.