Tate. Taylor. Murphy. Munroe. Sweaters stream through the hallways. Messenger bags brimming with titles that include , “Anatomy of the Sacred” or, “European Politics in the 19th Century”, maybe a Norton Anthology. Thick glasses, paint beaten jeans, pony tails and afros are a common rhetoric among Wesleyans. It seems that smart has a look. A look universally acknowledged among the residents of the academic Ivory Tower and among those content to just look like they are. However, can this “smart” look be codified by major, or even broader by the humanities, the arts, and the sciences? Do English majors have a monopoly on printed skirts? Do Applied Mathematics majors run the Vans show? So both groups respectively spend the majority of their time surrounded by people with the same major, I decided to ask them. Pirate Ashley Jackson, an Applied Mathematics and major answered jokingly, “English majors dress cute, I feel like they have more time on their hands. Or they try to dress like their favorite character from a book. Science majors always look thrown together.” According to this third year, there is indeed a look that characterizes the two different groups. A look that very overtly reflects interests.
So what is the look? Apparently, the humanities seems to create a students that looks a little like a Matilda and Walt Whitman while Science and Mathematics majors skirt the lines of Einstein and the Doctor from Doctor Who.
Whether or not the stylistic rhetoric of the humanities and the sciences is learned or inherent is up for debate. It is difficult to know whether the cues for how we dress are simply products of joint interests and experiences or whether or not we are just joining the style cues of the sneering upperclassman that meet us at the door. Perhaps the clothing we wear that so closely defines us to our interests, is just a tool of assimilation, a way to feel like we belong to the literary canon or the research log and data worksheets. Through efforts to belong to the mass amounts of important smart people before us, we learn about them in class, speak like them on Facebook, and dress like them in real life. Jackson argues that this inoculation does not just start in higher education, Jackson states, “I’ve always been a jeans and t shirt kind of person. In high school I always wore jeans and t shirts and just got up and go. I feel like we all came in that way. College is a way to reinvent yourself and a lot of us just didn’t.”
Whether pulling from shared interests, favorite characters, or the great mass of history that each academic department provides, the individual styles of students works together to create a modge-podge of style that reflects the diversity of Wesleyan as well as the diversity of academia.