Hurley: Stop the sweatpant scourge

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Photo by Patrick Hurley.

My fellow undergraduates, it’s time to clean ourselves up. Spring is here (maybe), birds are chirping, bean boots are being shed for flip-flops, and you — yes, you — are still wearing sweatpants. I understand the impulse: you’re overworked and underslept, certain parts of your body jiggle more than the green Jell-O in Berkeley, and you haven’t color-organized the dark, bottomless hole that you call your wardrobe since Mommy drove off last August.

But let’s be real: I don’t care, and our beautiful campus doesn’t either. Unless you’re planning on sweating profusely, you’re not allowed to wear sweatpants. Just don’t. But here’s a disclaimer: when I look out of the Starbucks window at 7 a.m. and see varsity athletes, clad in their team sweats and heading to Payne Whitney (wherever that is), I am filled with admiration. I am impressed by their resolve to combine scholarship and athletics, and I accept — no, respect — their outfit choices. I imagine that, while playing with balls or swinging things around, these athletes actually make use of their sweatpants. When I see you, on the other hand, sedentary afternoon denizen of Bass, studying away in grey heather lounging clothes, I am filled with surprise and anger. I’m forced to flee upwards into the living world and stare at the sun until my eyes are cleansed.

You see, when you don’t bother to pick out real clothes for the day, you are doing a disservice to your school, its noble architecture, and the people around you. Recall the heady, exciting feeling of the semi-formal, dress-up dinners of freshman year. There you were, in an ill-fitting but passable blazer from high school, a maybe-silk tie around your neck, sitting with legions of acceptably dressed frosh. No one was sporting Dior Homme (okay, except that kid from Paris), but everyone looked fine, and you were happy to realize that you’d be spending four years with these quasi-stylish people.

Now, think about a typical Saturday brunch in your college. Students stream into the dining hall in whatever tatters they can slip on, as if there were a law against wearing clothes found anywhere but on your bedroom floor. It’s depressing, dammit. The grey-and blue-clad zombies mull over their Tater Tots, their unkemptness telegraphing their intention to go straight back to bed after their meal, as soon as they can shuffle their slippers over to the tray drop-off.

It’s time for all of us to start looking the part. Gone are the days when we would argue with our mothers over the right to wear different-colored socks to kindergarten. No matter your academic or extracurricular interests at Yale, we are all pre-adults. This means that we are all becoming increasingly responsible for our own choices; one of our most basic decisions is how to present ourselves to the world. You wouldn’t wear sweatpants to work at a Fortune-500 company, would you? Well, right now, being a student is our job — and we are at one of the best academic institutions in the world. It’s time to dress for the part. On a daily basis, some of the world’s most respected minds gather to share their knowledge with us, treating us as their academic partners. They deserve our respect. And we owe it to ourselves to look like we deserve to be in the same room as them. If we dress sloppily, thinking sloppily is sure to follow.

I don’t want a dress code. I don’t want people to be slaves to the world of fashion or to wear stupidly expensive scarves or silly sandals. What I want is simple, really. I want you to look like you care, just a little. Put on a pair of jeans. Preferably skinny, but any will do. The sweatpant scourge must end.

Patrick Hurley is a junior in Pierson College.

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