Formals season calls for fashion upgrade

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March 27, 2007

1:56 PM

There are eight weekends left until graduation, eight opportunities for formal attire and photographs, eight weeks for turning around your previous fashion sins. Do not waste these precious moments. Unless you plan on giving lots of money to attend charity balls, the frequency with which one attends formals in college will never happen again.

p. Perhaps the number of formals makes students tire of the great dress-up, but one wouldn’t show up to a pool party wearing a sweat suit instead of a swimsuit, no matter how popular you are in the pool party set. No matter how many invitations you receive, formals are formal and require the appropriate ensemble.

p. Confused? Perhaps the Oxford English Dictionary can help: “Of apparel: Ceremonial, proper to a dignity or office. [An] evening dress; an engagement at which such dress is worn.”

p. Dignity; evening dresses! Where are these in our drunken romps Friday and Saturday nights? Please, invest in both. And gentlemen, long pants, please.

p. I understand that there are some obstacles to overcome. As we stand as a campus now, the few students with real formal attire are ostracized for trying too hard or going overboard. In order to prevent this fear, we must begin a new unified movement to actively participate in true formal culture.

p. Take a peek on Facebook at any other Southern school (I hate to break it to you, but we are an hour away from the Confederate capital and are therefore a Southern school) and look at their formal pictures. It’s an entirely different aesthetic — not just hair color and bleached teeth, but the effort and polish put into the ceremonial event.

p. Is it expensive to keep up such high standards? Absolutely not. If I learned anything from the sleeper Disney hit “The Torkelsons,” it’s that you can manage to find a formal dress even if you, your four siblings and your mother were left penniless when your father walked out on you, even if this formal dress has a giant ink stain that has to be covered up by a flower, which is then pulled off by some bitch at school who had donated the dress, but to your aid your date for the night, who you also have a crush on, hides the stain with his delicate yet masculine hand (Season II, episode 30 “The Dance” 1993).

p. Maybe the school can’t handle real formals, but then we have to change the language to accommodate the laziness of student fashion. Let’s not kid ourselves, we are currently trapped in a semiformal world, masquerading as the upper echelon of formality. We are, essentially, living a lie — a veritable clothing-based honor code violation.

p. If each person put a little more effort in each day, the jump into formal dress would not be as staggering. Take a look at such dapper men as juniors Matt Taylor and Philip Clark; each is different in his individual style but knows how to put together a look. These men groom, they smell good and their popularity seems to be an outward token of their inward desire to keep things clean and coiffed.

p. May I be blunt for a moment? Looks matter. The illusion of effort matters. It is best to practice now, for the world at large will judge more than all of the Lilly Pulitzer-clad students combined. (Side note: little animal appliques are also not particularly couture.)

p. None of this matters in the least except for what it may say about our future.

p. Clothes are made for the young. In 10 years time, the magazines will have moved to the now tween set (unless Kate Moss continues to not age). Use this time to look good, to care and to project a confident front because it’s all downhill from here. Seriously, who wants to be stuck in the “I give up” dress at 23?

p. If we don’t put in daily effort now, we’re only going to slip further into the worst-dressed-generation role, as social codes no longer keep a firm grip on our appearance. Come on, do it for the whole second wave baby boom. Do it for the memories you capture in photographs. Do it for your future children who want to think they came from attractive parents. Just look good — and moisturize.

p. __Charlotte Savino is a Confusion Corner columnist for The Flat Hat. She would like to remind the ladies to please refrain from wearing white until Memorial Day.__

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