On my first day at UCC, I woke up thinking ‘what on earth am I going to wear today?’ There were countless potential outfits to choose from, yet I was left totally clueless. I wanted something that was classic, yet incorporated as many of my thrifted pieces as possible.
All I could think to myself was dark skinny jeans, thrifted denim shirt, grandpa sweater, brown fedora, and classic cheetah print vans. It wasn’t super dressy, like I heard Irish girls were in to, but it worked for me and my current mood. Isn’t that the fun in style anyway? There’s really no such thing as wrong.
As I began my walk to campus, I began to take note of what some of the key pieces that people were wearing; pairs of Doc Martens and tights under denim shorts were certainly common. But what really struck me was how differently each person wore the ‘trend’. No outfit looked alike. It had been just a few minutes, and I was already obsessed with UCC students’ wardrobes.
At my home university in America, there is a generic ‘uniform’ consisting of a North Face jacket, skinny jeans, and Uggs which the majority of girls wear almost daily. Yet, at UCC, that doesn’t exist; clothing here is a means of self-expression rather than a way of fitting into a specific community. Girls take pride in standing out in ways that would leave people staring back at my college. From an insider’s point of view, it’s quite saddening to see such an essential form of self-expression become lost to the norms.
I can’t help but be inspired every time that I step out of my apartment by the things that my peers manage to wear. Although Cork is tiny compared to New York City (which happens to practically be my second home), its fashion scene shares a similar uniqueness with ‘the city that never sleeps.’ One second you can walk past someone wearing combat boots with a gorgeous dress, and the next you can be standing next to a person that has the most chic outfit that you have seen in a while. It’s really different, and brilliant. To a girl that is constantly searching for excuses to escape to NYC way more often than she should, having the opportunity to spend the semester in such an incredible place with an every changing sense of style is a dream comes true.
Being a student at UCC has already taught me a great deal about clothing. For instance, following trends isn’t something to be looked down upon, but making them your own is what counts. What we wear is our greatest form of self-expression. Any day of the year, we have the potential to be whoever we want to be, just by the outfit that we put on. It’s up to us whether or not we want to encompass a hippy with tie-dye and messy hair, or a super-polished Anna Wintour look alike. There are no rules.
The students at UCC epitomise this. Many of them don’t follow the status quo, but instead wear what they want. Not to put down students from my college, but they can learn from this. Just because it’s ‘the norm’ doesn’t mean that you have to follow it. After all, Dr Seuss once said ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’