A Guide To Dressing Like A Liberal Arts College Student

Last week, I told you how to dress if you went to a college like Arizona State University. This week, I will tell you how to dress like a liberal arts college student! Believe me, there is a heavy distinction.

Treat your college campus like it’s a runway. Have dreams of becoming a fashion model but realize you have to live in the dorms and take Religion & Spirituality In Contemporary America instead. Be resentful. Read soooo many fashion blogs. Fashion, fashion, fashion. Intern at a fashion magazine two days a week. Fashion, fashion, fashion. Fancy yourself to be very multi-faceted. “I can talk about Foucault but also talk about the fall 2008 season of Balenciaga, you know?”

Have a lot of money, duh. Come to class in an outfit that costs more than the annual teacher’s salary and watch your professor silently weep in the corner. Choose one of two style directions: Gothic princess on coke or loud zany girl on coke. Whichever you pick, know that you will always be on coke. Wear bizarre feathers in your hair, impractical footwear, and lots of leather. Look utterly ridiculous showing up to class in 5-inch heels and furry ear muffs but love every second of it.

Look terribly unfriendly. Terrify everyone. Pretend that you’re not actually in school. Ugh, you’re just so embarrassed to be there.  You have other things going on like a DJ gig, hooking up with Leo Fitzpatrick, and hanging out with like five It Girls. Your world is so much bigger than this campus!

LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME! I’m weird, I’m kooky! That girl is wearing a dead bird in her hair? Well, I’m going to wear actual deer antlers tomorrow! So there!

Even the people who don’t have style at a liberal arts college know at the very least to wear Doc Martens and a floral dress. The worst dressed person at a school like NYU or Sarah Lawrence is the best dressed person at a place like Michigan State.

Channel The Following Looks: Mischa Barton In A Psych Ward, Maybe I’m Gay, I Am Every Character From My So-Called Life, The Only Thing I’ve Eaten In Three Days Is My ADD Medication, Everyone Is Jealous Of Me And I Can Understand Why, My Parents Won’t Call Me Back, This Outfit Is A Genderfuck, I Love The Craft And If I Wear Black Lipstick I’ll Be A Witch, Don’t Panic My Dress Is Organic, Stop Looking At Me, Okay, You Can Look At Me and I’m Scared 2 Graduate.

People who go to liberal arts colleges were clearly not hugged enough as a child. If they were, they wouldn’t be prancing around wearing their dead dog as an outfit. But that’s okay. It’s why we love them. Right? TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • http://www.economicburn.com vveneziani

    Let me guess: you went to Camden.

    • Aelya

      Eugene Lang

  • eferf67
  • M909

    I never experienced any of this. The first version was a lot better.

  • Megan

    This is the world I live in and I much prefer it over the other one

  • thementalist

    Alright, I go to NYU. It's not exactly like this but I can appreciate the exaggerations.

    One thing though…I never saw a person wearing a dead animal.

    • thementalist

      ALSO, this is rather disappointing. I usually really enjoy the stuff you write, Ryan.

    • Pfft

      you never saw anyone wearing leather?

  • http://twitter.com/multislack Sandhya

    Yeah the other one was better. This wasn't Oberlin.

    • what

      to be fair, oberlin might need its very own how-to-dress article…

  • jack

    liberal arts students think they're the artsiest BUT
    they don't have shit on any real ass art school

  • Jordan


  • Jordan

    And I won The Game, but this was a softball.

  • danhoopes

    anyone who is anything like what you're describing sounds like an awful human being

  • sleepy

    Funny the 5Cs tend to be the reverse of the articles. Maybe this article applies to just new york schools.

    • jelly

      Totally agree

    • thementalist


      maybe parson's.

    • Amy

      I sincerely hope you're correct because I'm going to one of the 5Cs this fall and I have no desire to dress in dead dogs or act unfriendly for the sake of it or talk fashion all day long or dress up to go to class. *shudder* So now I'm here dearly praying that the Claremonts are nothing like this…

  • Thomas Gregovich

    Just saying, the majority of girls at Michigan State wear Uggs, black leggings and a NorthFace jacket for 3/5s of the year.

  • http://twitter.com/Chrys0poeia Nick Beith

    Liked the article but next time you do E3 and the other guy does fashion. It'll be sweet.

  • Guest

    From an Amherst College standpoint, all of this is laughably untrue

    • Oliver Miller

      It really holds up for Sarah Lawrence though, trust me.

    • Guest

      paging hampshire + smith + moho students in amherst college classrooms

    • Sarah

      Seconded. You can spot the Hampshire kids from a mile away because they DO tend to dress like this.

  • JPC

    I went to a liberal arts school. At mine, people were too smart or too busy saving the world to give a shit about what they were wearing

    • cmb

      pretentious much?

      Also I don't think you understand satire…

  • Josef

    I normally love all your articles but this article is ridiculous. I graduated from Michigan State, my best friend went to Arizona State, while another best friend went to an East coast liberal arts college. Between the two I visited both colleges 9 times. The best dressed people are at Michigan State, by far. Pretty sure people at lib arts colleges don't give a shit about what they wear, at all. NYU and Sarah Lawrence are not representative of all liberal arts schools. It's not fair to compare these schools…in any way. While there are some accuracies, there are several inaccuracies, generalisations, and exaggerations.

    • Jordan

      The generalizations and exaggerations are the modus operandi of the How To, the inaccuracies (differences in perspective I'll say) are a result of his interpretation vs anyone else's.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jade.orlich Jade Mitchell

      Ryan is the king/queen of satire and exaggeration…have you read anything else by him? Any opinion
      can be disputed – I think you're just taking it extra hard because you're an alumnus. 
      I'm a native Michigander and I've been to MSU – everyone there is in sweat pants and a North Face jacket. There isn't a dead bird or a tasteful dress in the entire Lansing area…I highly doubt MSU could compete with a chic liberal arts school.

    • http://twitter.com/churchas Ashley Church

      Aw yes, Michigan State where you go to class in your pajamas and go out in dresses from WetSeal to prove that you all are actually attractive.

      And don't get mad, this as crass of a generalization as both your comment and this satirical article is.

    • becca black

      omg you SO didnt go to a lib arts college !!!!

      “While there are some accuracies, there are several inaccuracies, generalisations, and exaggerations.”

    • Jess

      Who cares? “Best dressed” is a subjective and made up way of being pretentious. No one cares how we dress in college. It’s not a shocking or risque statement to say that 20 year olds from the Midwest dress in Uggs, hoodies, and VS Pink clothes. I’m sorry, but a girl wearing a dead bird or a floral dress would not be considered fashionable at MSU, OSU, Purdue, etc. Their attempt at fashion completely lost. 

      Who? Effing? Cares? 

  • guest

    only if your liberal arts college is eugene lang maybe

  • a. share

    Obviously you have not seen enough liberal arts colleges. Nothing in this post sounds like my college or any of the others I have visited.

    • ---

      everyone at my liberal arts school dresses like this

  • Kate Proulx

    A very important youtube video to back up this very accurate recount of the fashion choices at Parsons/The New School/Eugene Lang:

  • Ramblien

    um, most liberal arts schools aren't in new york city. check your perspective.

    • herecomesth3sun

      Sarah Lawrence isn't in New York City either…

  • Lindsay

    Sorry, this is one of your worst articles. You should retitle it, as the content does not encompass any liberal arts school outside of New York City.

  • JEN

    HAHA I go to a liberal arts school and this si SO true. Especially the high heels and ear muffs! LOVE IT ryan

  • http://paintwithwords.tumblr.com leah

    i actually own a dress that says, in writing on the front, “don't panic, i'm organic.” 
    it's by emma watson for people tree.

  • Greg

    how about just shopping at thrift shops and putting in a concerted effort to look  at least 2x poorer than you actually are and at least 2 generations back than the one you were actually born in

  • Genderfuck

    I go to a Christian liberal arts school HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAAA

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