Helen Huynh

When I walked into my first 9:00 a.m. class on Aug. 30, I thought, “There’s no way people will keep this up.” 

Girls adorned themselves in trendy outfits from head to toe: vintage floral dresses, thrifted flowy skirts, Abercrombie ripped jeans and Aritzia form-fitting tops. Even the guys made a modest effort with their polo shirts, khakis and Nikes.

Not to my suprise, though, as August continued, most people didn’t hold themselves to these high fashion standards, especially in my 9 a.m. class. 

Although every day does not necessitate first day of school attire, Yale students keep up with the trends 90 percent of the time.

As someone who attended private schools in the Midwest for most of my life, I lacked real fashion sense. “Pique style” consisted of rolling up our checkered uniform skirt a few inches above the knee while wearing a crewneck on top of our white blouses. Even on days when we could “dress down” — wear business casual attire that wasn’t our uniforms — girls chose to “rebel” by wearing leggings and sweatpants. Fashion wasn’t the priority — comfort and subtly dissing the school administration by breaking the dress code was. 

At Yale, where most students come from well-dressed metropolises like New York City or Los Angeles, everyone looks like they came straight from New York Fashion Week. It’s hard not to feel a bit of FOMO or even slightly insecure as a girl from a state where athleisure, like Lululemon, is as good as it gets fashion-wise. 

During the warmer months, it was easier to keep up. I would wear a cute skirt or dress, some gold jewelry, my New Balances and call it a day. This is trickier when it gets cooler. As the temperature dropped 10, 20, 30 degrees, I expected the Yale fashionistas to give in and roll out of bed in their pajamas or day-old sweats, like students at any other college. 

But NO. Instead, fall weather brought even more chic outfits — woven sweaters, puffer jackets, cargo pants and Doc Martens. 

If you are feeling fashionably out of place, like I am, keep reading. Keeping up and staying fashionable in this dreary East Coast weather can be a struggle. Why wear a cute outfit when your giant North Face Puffer jacket covers it anyway? But, if you still aspire to dress like you walked out of your Pinterest board, I’m here to help! 

To build your very own winter uniform, let’s start with the basics. 

  1. First, begin with a neutral-colored white, gray, black or brown–long-sleeve basic. This top can be a turtleneck, woven sweater or Brandy Melville tee. 
  2. Next, choose your bottom–a black skirt, cargo pants or flare jeans.

Now, let’s layer.

  1. Jacket: If the weather’s a bit warmer, a black/brown leather jacket or sleeveless Puffer jacket works wonders; it adds to your fit while still not hiding the top under it. Suppose it’s a bit colder, though. In that case, there are plenty of options depending on your budget, ranging from the over $1,000 Canada Goose Jacket to the more reasonably priced Artizia “Super Puff” jacket — or if you’re the average broke college student, buy a knockoff on Amazon or Temu. Your winter coat will become a staple in your wardrobe, so choose wisely.
  2. Accessories: These are what REALLY bring the outfit together. A long woolen scarf, black tights, earmuffs and gold/silver jewelry add an extra OOMPH to your fit.  
  3. Shoes: Invest in a pair of boots — either the trending chestnut-colored platform Ugg boots, Doc Martens or classic Steve Madden boots. In this weather, Converse or Air Forces don’t cut it anymore, especially if it starts snowing — assuming it even snows in Connecticut anymore?

I’m aware that this advice is not life-altering or trend-setting in any way. Someone from New York or Los Angeles would probably scoff and call my advice basic — which is completely understandable; my style is not on par with the true fashionistas that roam this campus. However, if you’re a fellow Midwesterner who wants to upgrade your wardrobe a little, these are some tips to consider while adding pieces to your Christmas wishlist.