Nina Howe-Goldstein ‘25
Org Studies Major with Morals
There exists a truism about people who spend too much time on Twitter: that, in futile efforts to avoid imaginary cancellation, they will never just say “I like cheese.” It must always be preceded and bookended by impassioned declarations that they know of the dairy industry’s numerous animal rights abuses; that they apologize for its equally adverse environmental impact; that they hold space for lactose-intolerant persons who cannot similarly enjoy their beloved cheese.* They fear not being seen as “maximally inclusive.”
The same is true of our collective behavior as students, I think. Because we’re all busy figuring ourselves out, we let each other get away with damn near everything — though not out of true grace or understanding, but through a moral anxiety that permits everything under the sun in the name of girlboss-style empowerment.
But because I am a uniquely uninhibited, enlightened individual in the history of this college, I will say what we’re all thinking: oh my god, Scripps fashion sucks so hard.
Picture the median Scrippsie. Now think about how bad their clothes are. It’s awful on so many levels: the national supply chain shortage has hit the college’s stock of bras; the fits (in the literal sense) struggle to the point of seeming structurally insecure; the clothes are just so ugly, because the median Scrippsie has yet to internalize that multiple layered patterns, thrifted heritage, and the occasional cowboy boot does not a “look” make. Most outfits are generally unsuitable for a learning environment, let alone a professional one — I once saw someone wear a bikini top to history class (and before you go accusing me of misogyny, consider the simple premise divinely established when God created the universe in 4004 BCE: don’t wear a swimsuit to class).
And because we have the great misfortune to live in Claremont, California, this is all imbued with a thin veneer of revolution. Thrifting, mullets, and freed nipples are taken to be unambiguously transgressive — never mind that half the population of our enclosed HWC sports them. We are strong believers (and, subsequently, enforcers) of bizarre standards of self-expression.
This manifests through the delightful habit of the Scripps College student body — like lemmings hopping off a collective earnest cliff — to stifle even the most mild critique in the name of inclusivity. Remember last year, when the Gala party’s dress code was supposed to be “formal,” and the poster meekly suggested that one could go thrifting in the Village if they lacked a dress? The backlash was so intense that the party itself (apparently achieving omnipotence for the duration of its Notes app apology) had to clarify a lack of intent to exclude some imaginary person who lacked a single nice outfit or $20 with which to acquire one. We’re all so paralyzed by the prospect of hurting feelings that we become the most pathetic, nonbinary-est puritans since Sock kicked Axel out of the polycule for weaponizing xir neurotypical privilege by asking zer to do the dishes.
That is why I propose the only viable solution to the Scripps fashion crisis: absolute conformity to my style in particular. I like to think that I dress like a (relatively inspired) normie, buying solid new and thrifted pieces with a focus on textiles and good conditions for workers. I like solid color blocks and reliable brands; I avoid polyester like the plague but make no pretenses of environmental perfection. In a concession to my wokest relatives’ anxieties that I’m secretly nonbinary and just not telling them (I’m not), I even buzz my hair, wear big earrings, and put on the occasional overall. But that’s not even important. If clothes are beyond reproach, then I feel comfortable saying that mine are perfect! And therefore, everyone should dress exactly like me! It will be a simple system, wherein I post my next day’s outfit to Instagram nightly, and the entire college simply imitates me overnight.
My devoted legions of readers will remember that I opened the year by explaining the basic arguments of philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò’s recent book Elite Capture. He argues that through “identity politics,” identity as it exists in our modern understanding has been far removed from its original solidarity-building liberatory potential. Rather, identities become weaponized commodities at the hands of people who see it as little more than a way for them (as individuals, not a collective) to come out on top.
(“A motherfucking Táíwò callback?!” I imagine you’re collectively crowing. “This bitch has done it again!”)
But the ongoing Scripps Fashion Crisis, I would argue, is even worse than “elite capture” — because it’s way stupider. We have no real eliteness to capture (we haven’t gone on to work at D*******… yet) and still we play games as though we are, because we’re all trapped in this bubble together with nothing to do but go thrifting.
The great tragedy of Scripps’s fashion is that we have none. However, as I have argued is objective, this can be solved by simply taking our woke puritanism to its natural conclusion: absolute orthodoxy with the Howe-Goldstein school of style. Get dressing, friends.
*Every Friday when I arrive for work at the Makerspace, I make a point of taunting my friend Raka with the large stick of cheddar which I will consume over the course of my shift. One of us is lactose intolerant, and it’s definitely not me.
Image Source: Aanji Sin ’24