I am writing this article from my home in the middle of nowhere. For some, moving from Cambridge reintroduces them to the much faster worlds of Manchester or London. Others, to cities or towns of similar size. And for people like me, to sleepy little villages with an average population age somewhere above the retirement age. Today my outfit consists of a simple gray top and my favorite jeans. In Cambridge I would consider this a “struggle”. What I wear when I’m sick or sad or tired – I don’t go anywhere or do anything except lock myself in the library and force myself to finish that essay. Not exactly a Sidgwick-showstopper, but that’s what most of my holiday wardrobe looks like.
Living in the middle of nowhere, with no driver’s license, terrible public transportation, and one friend within walking distance, I don’t get out much during the holidays. I can imagine that those who live in London do not change their wardrobe so significantly; in a big city, there are a whole host of fashionable people who can impress with their cuts. While I don’t think the two dog walkers I might run into on a walk in the countryside gave a single thought to the outfit I made that day.
“It’s not exactly a Sidgwick showstopper, but it’s what most of my holiday wardrobe looks like”
Of course, I shouldn’t dress just to impress. Shouldn’t my style stay consistently the same no matter who sees it? Isn’t that how I stay true to myself? But it’s actually not that simple. At home, I feel the need to save my good clothes for the rare occasion that I actually escape my village, even if it’s just to ensure that my styles get the respect they deserve. If I wear any of my favorite outfits in front of my family, they’ll just ask me why I’m so dressed up, because parents apparently agree that people can’t dress up for sheer joy. . However, when I dress up, it’s not because I’m seeking my family’s approval. It makes sense to wear the warmest, most comfortable thing I can find when I’m stuck at home all day. Yes, you should always wear what you feel good in, but that changes with context.
In Cambridge, I’ll sometimes prioritize style over comfort because I want people at the Sidgwick Site to think I’m as cool as they are (and because I obviously want someone to send Crushbridge about me). I constantly compare myself to others at university – and not just in academia. Even when I think I’ve picked a pretty good outfit for the day, I’m still far from the best-dressed person in English class. My home clothes may not make me feel like the cool Pinterest girl I strive to be, but there is some comfort in not having to live up to some unattainable standard. I know not everyone feels the same pressure to treat Sidge as their runway, but cool clothes certainly have significant social points in the Cambridge sphere. And, even if it’s needless to say, as someone who has never really considered myself a “cool” person, I love scoring those points.
“Yes, you should always wear what you feel good in, but that changes with the context”
My only friend in the village could definitely have been a Sidgwick icon in another life – she’ll wear perfectly done eyeliner and bold lipstick even on days when she doesn’t see a soul. However, I very rarely get the urge to do the same. And yet, thanks to her, I don’t become so self-conscious about wearing my favorite clothes around the country when I’m rarely in the mood (apparently the opinions of the local aging conservatives really don’t matter!). Even when I’m just leaving the house for relatively mundane reasons, as long as I’m seeing people who might appreciate my fitness, it’s nice to put in a little effort. Because dressing up is fun, even if they’re old men from Dedham Village or sweatpants-clad youngsters from Colchester City, they won’t quite rate it like the girls from the Sidgwick site.
The person I am at home and the person I am at Cambridge live very different lives, so it’s only natural that my wardrobe reflects that. I don’t have the energy to dress up every day at home like I do when I’m away, because there’s no real need for it. However, in Cambridge I find the process of getting dressed genuinely fun and makes me feel good. Dress up or dress down – neither option is more comfortable or true to me than the other. They just fulfill different needs.
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