How Comfortable Clothes Aid a Confident Self

Story by Samantha Shriber
Photo by Anne Langan

College is full of experiences: meeting your best friends, cramming through the night to ace an exam and most importantly, dressing like a complete bum.

Life is hard, studying for finals is tough and getting dressed up for the day can be unfathomable and let’s face it – sweatpants are so comfy!  

Thankfully, universities like Central Michigan University are a runway, and random sweatpants and hoodies are the hottest looks since Chanel and Gucci. With each passing day, we see hundreds of Chippewas stumble into class wearing the latest ensemble of yoga pants and a ninth grade volleyball crew neck. 

Bum Life
Freshman Paul Aclibon admits to jumping the bum bandwagon of college.

“Ever since I got to college I have gotten lazier when it comes to getting dressed. Instead of caring about what I’m putting on, I’m focused on the class,” Aclibon admits. “Or, at least even the attempt to get to class is greater than getting ready for the day.”

Senior Shelby Harris has been a resident assistant for two and a half years. The role provides her with a direct insight into the lives of various freshman, in between being awestruck by new experiences and make-or-break obstacles.  

In addition, she witnesses first hand the transitions in style of students over the first few weeks of the fall semester.

 “When freshmen come in they’re always dressed really fancy and trying to do the most to impress, but then as classes start to get harder, they begin to walk around in sweatpants and the such. It’s really interesting to see the level of effort they put into the way they dress change over the months,” Harris said.  

Owning Your Sweats Look
As the leaves turn brown, Michigan’s weather gets even more unpredictable, and blouses and curled hair turns into messy buns, baggy shirts and pajama pants.  

With this being said, “bum” does not necessarily mean bad (especially with exams nearing), and there are many ways to rock the style and make it genuinely your own.  

Sophomore Sammy Phillips takes “bumming it” very seriously.

“I do like to wear cute comfortable shoes, I’m into Nikes. I do not like to clash my bum outfits – I may be comfortable but I do not clash. Overall, I don’t want to look like I don’t care too much but really I don’t.”

The Rise of the “Comfy College Student” Look
Nikes, along with many other notorious brands, have taken the comfy culture by storm and turned it into an expression of style and culture.

Fashion design student, freshman Bianca Jenkins, explains this new trend.

“You always see brands like Nike, Lulu or pretty much any big name athletic wear label being worn,” Jenkins said.

Senior Saceila Gonzalez agrees that the correlation between comfy and trendy is important.

 “Being a college student, all I’m doing for most of the day is sitting so I may as well be comfortable and designers nowadays are including athletic material and cuts in their lines so it’s easy to do and still look presentable,” Gonzalez said.

Many labels, some as prestigious as Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Versace now offer casual wear, adding a refined elegance to the comfy college look.  

A Personalized Take
The bum look thrives when individualized. This can be most cleverly done by adding an accessory, such as headbands and scarfs or dazzling the look up with unique socks and footwear.  

Freshman Annika Clemens typically sees creative takes on the bum look on a daily basis, acknowledging the benefits of the look being comfortable, quick and undemanding.  

“I often see it styled up with a random scarf or maybe a headband, or rocking the Uggs with the baggy sweats,” Clemens said.

At the end of the day, bum success is won not necessarily by how it looks, but how the wearer feels.  

Cortney Munro, a freshman with a preference for baggy t-shirts and spandex, describes bumming.

“Bumming is just feeling completely relaxed and at home where I can truly be myself.  I feel that if I’m around you in my bum clothing it shows that I am very comfortable and at peace with you and myself.”

Next time you reach for those sweatpants, rock them with all you’ve got.