Comfort, style, occasion.
These are some of the factors Pepperdine students consider when it comes to picking out an outfit for class.
Students said investing extra effort into wearing an outfit that reflects their personal style and that they feel put together in makes them feel more motivated for the day ahead.
“I will have more confidence if I am wearing an outfit I put more effort into and that I think is cuter,” junior biology major Alexa Naegle said. “So it might make me want to stand out more.”
Research shows clothing impacts confidence and preparedness. Pepperdine students said that comfy and cute is the formula to a perfect everyday outfit for school.
Clothing builds confidence
A good outfit can influence one’s confidence.
Psychologists have studied how clothing choice has real psychological effects on the person wearing it.
“The knowledge that the clothing is appropriate and impressive gives confidence to the wearer,” Parul Gill, psychologist at CCS Haryana Agricultural University, wrote in a 2018 Indian Journal of Psychology article.
Pepperdine students said their outfits do indeed impact their confidence.
Naegle said she likes to wear outfits that are both cute and comfortable on campus. She said her favorite and most reliable outfit combination is baggy jeans paired with a cute tight crop top and a crewneck sweatshirt if it gets chilly.
If she wears something cuter she may be less academically motivated, Naegle said, because her outfit and the confidence it brings will make her want to be more social on campus rather than hitting the books at Payson.
Psychologists have also studied how a great outfit can impact how people carry themselves and improve their mood.
“If you look a certain way, you’ll think a certain way and then you’ll act a certain way,” Michael Cunningham, associate professor of psychology at the University of Louisville, told Essence Magazine. “It’s called apparel or clothing therapy.”
Sophomore advertising major Hannah Allen loves streetwear. She said she likes to wear flared yoga pants and a cute top to class. Allen values quality, comfort and style when it comes to picking out an outfit for a day on campus.
“If I’m wearing a cute outfit and I feel confident and good in it, that makes me in a better mood,” Allen said. “If I am looking really bummy and just feel gross and stuff, probably I am not in a really good place.”
For Allen, the perfect outfit does not have to be dressy, it just has to look put together.
“I definitely feel a lot better when I look somewhat presentable and put together rather than not,” Allen said.
Students balance comfy and cute
Comfort is an extremely important factor in outfit choice for students.
“It’s stressful for us if we don’t feel comfortable in what we’re wearing,” Carolyn Mair, fashion psychologist said in the American Psychological Association’s Speaking of Psychology podcast.
Naegle said she really values physically comfortable outfits because she has lab days and works six-hour shifts twice a week at Payson.
The amount of classes students have in a day impacts how casual their outfit choice is.
For Allen, if she is in classes all day she said she likes to dress up a bit, but if it is a shorter day where she isn’t going to get to show off her outfit, she will opt for a much more comfy-casual option.
Allen said she loves to wear a good quality hoodie when she goes for a super comfy outfit.
For Naegle, if she has a long day of classes, she said she will wear something more comfortable, but if it is a shorter day she will go for a more cute outfit.
Students like to wear outfits that are comfy, but they do not sacrifice elements of style.
Ryan Bresingham, senior film studies and creative writing double-major, said he would describe his style as casual and comfortable with lots of jewelry to accessorize.
Bresingham opts for an oversized tee with jeans and his everyday rings and bracelets.
Halle Bowe, senior integrated marketing communication major, said her typical school outfit consists of a crop top with cargos or maybe sweats and her Nike dunk sneakers.
Bowe said she keeps her everyday outfits pretty comfortable, but they also have to be cute at the same time. She said she values comfort so much that has worn pajamas to school.
“I wear cute pjs too,” Bowe said.
Athleisure is one way students accomplish the perfect comfy-cute balance.
“I like to wear matching workout sets, even though I don’t workout,” Allen said. “It looks more put together.”
Clothing impacts success
Clothing has power when it comes to success in career and academic endeavors.
When people form impressions of others, nonverbal behaviors such as clothing choice influence those impressions, psychologist Daniel Gurney wrote in his 2016 study
This is applicable when interviewing for jobs.
“Attire matters a lot,” Judy Jacobs, Career Center industry specialist, said. “Not only what you wear, but how you look.”
Jacobs recommends women wear a blouse, blazer, and a nice skirt or pants for an interview. She said men should wear a blazer and trousers.
Jacobs said the attire a candidate chooses for an interview signals to the interviewer how much they care about the position.
The uniform for success is different from company to company.
In the podcast, Mair said the perfect uniform could be a suit or it could be jeans and a tee.
Jacobs said she recommends dressing like the person in the position two levels above you.
Many students may struggle with the transition from the comfy-cute college wardrobe to a corporate work uniform postgrad, Jacobs said.
“I think college is a wonderful opportunity to get ready for the corporate life,” Jacobs said. “And I think dressing up for presentations and being marked on it is a great idea.”
Dressing up for presentations is a requirement for some Pepperdine courses, but many students like to dress up for their own self confidence.
“It makes me feel more professional in a way and it helps me feel more prepared almost,” Bresingham said. “It definitely boosts my confidence a lot because I feel like if I look good, I feel good, then I’ll present good.”
Students who tend to keep their clothing pretty comfy said they too tend to dress up for presentations, while staying true to their style.
Bowe said she will do her version of a blazer suit paired with her Nike dunk sneakers.
Not all students find that dressing up for presentations improves their confidence.
Naegle said she would feel uncomfortable dressing in more formal attire for a presentation because the clothing would not fit her personal style.
“When I was younger my parents kinda taught me like you never know who you’re going to run into when you’re out and about, so always try and look presentable and nice because you never know what opportunities or like what situations you’re going to be put in,” Bresingham said. “I guess it’s just like whenever I dress more nice it motivates me to do my work and be more invested in what I’m doing.”
Aubrey Lewis completed the reporting for this story in Jour 241 under the supervision of Dr. Christina Littlefield and Dr. Theresa de los Santos. Dr. Littlefield supervised the web version of the story.