A sweater vest, a pair of pleated khakis and a starch-stiffened dress shirt. There’s a kid in a couple of my classes who recently wore that uniform of an outfit. He wore the same thing on two other days that week. I don’t know much about him, but my basic sense of compassion made me feel for the guy. It is simply inconceivable that his neck was not covered in rashes, as his collar choked his airflow. So much pain and so clearly in vain.
He needed to be liberated. And so do you. After all, everyone knows he’s not alone in developing this fashion-focused affliction — a self-imposed formal dress code to make himself look ‘professional’ at this pinnacle of elitism — Yale. And yet, conforming our clothes to an idealized representation of what we think we ought to be pulls us away from what makes us worthy of coming here in the first place — simply who we are.
But fear not, for I have discovered the true meaning of life. Yes, I, Jacob Koppelman Hutt, whose childhood dream was a pair of golden Crocs, have discovered nirvana, manna from heaven, the good place: a solid, soft pair of sweatpants.
They’re a rare sight on Yale’s campus, a sign of giving up on what you look like and caving to monotony. Gray, grouchy, dull. Uninspired. Unprofessional. Unlovable. Only acceptable for the athlete who put in the work at the gym your, where you go only once a year to pick up a ticket to The Game. And yet, when you slip them on, you realize what you have been missing.
They make the mornings an easy routine, reallocating precious seconds you would otherwise spend buttoning your pants to getting more sleep. You can wake up at 12:30 p.m. instead of 12:15 p.m.! Spent last night writing an essay you had three weeks notice on? No problem, get that 20-minute power nap in between 9:00 a.m. and 9:20 a.m., slide a pair of sweatpants on and hit the road to your first lecture at 9:30.
And sweatpants alleviate the most stressful choice of the day. What are you wearing today? Sweatpants. Tomorrow? Sweatpants. The next day? Sweatpants. Barack Obama once swore by owning two suits: a gray one and a blue one. He picked from one of two colors. Why limit it to suits? Black and blue t-shirts. Blue and white hats. Gray and black sweatpants will increase your productivity. Yes, my approach to wardrobe is the only thing the 44th President has endorsed in 2020.
They don’t even have to look like sweatpants. That’s right, your pants can be a liar liar while they look fire. Uniqlo makes a pair of sweatpants-jeans hybrid I live by. Jeans. Elastic waistband. Success.
But the best part of sweatpants is that your legs feel swaddled by fluffy blankets. They are finally comfortable. You are finally comfortable. You are finally at peace.
I spent all of high school suffering just like you formal dressers do now. The people who ran the school — prep school parents — forced us to wear a button-down shirt, a monochromatic tie, iron-pressed khakis and laceless, potato-shaped shoes, every single day. We were to be sharp and professional, to dress for the careers we wanted or perhaps more appropriately what they wanted.
What happened? A bunch of rich, hormone-fueled kids sought to find some small way they could express themselves in a restrictive dress code. The hallways were a deluge of pastel-colored pants, sweat stains, plaid shirts, greasy hair, gold earrings and more sweat stains. If you didn’t wear a designer brand, you might as well have been wearing sweatpants. To be comfortable was to be sent to detention. To wear affordable was to be socially isolated. And everyone was just a little bit more irritable as a result.
Just wearing what I want now frees me to think about what I care about and make bold decisions. In a place that confronts students with frequent pressures, finding ways to let go rather than feeding into the intensity of our environment can allow us to prioritize our own needs. We might be just a little bit happier if we valued ourselves over our style.
JACOB HUTT is a junior in Silliman College. His column runs on alternate Fridays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .