We have already established that clothes are never just clothes. They’re threaded with meaning and reflect our identities. We all have a relationship with the clothes we wear, whether we like it or realize it or not.
At a basic level, we need them to serve the primary function of covering our bodies, but the choice of materials and styles we choose to fulfill this purpose goes far deeper. The decision to wear what we wear is embedded in our psyche.
I am fascinated with this latter reason for dressing and so I decided to take advantage of the diversity of styles that inhabits Rhodes University’s campus and go find out what students wear, and why they wear it.
I asked eight students to describe their personal style and explain why they wear the clothes they wear. Here’s what they said:
“If my hair could talk, it would shout: Afro-futurism overload! I think it’s important to look good-on your terms. Fashion is a form of self expression, the way we dress reflects how we feel and how we see ourselves. When you look good, you feel good.” Ntombi Ngidi, 3rd year Journalism student.
“I hate tight- fitting clothes; I think I only own one pair of jeans. I wear loose clothes because they don’t restrict me and I feel free. Comfort is key for me when I’m dressing. I would describe my style as abstract, colourful and comfortable.” Emma Hanly, 2nd year Journalism student.
“What I wear is who I am. I’m sexy, edgy and I don’t give a damn. That is the message I want to send through the clothes I wear.” Qawekazi Bakana, 2nd year BA majoring in Philosophy and Politics.
“I don’t really put much thought into fashion and what I wear. Like, I’m interested in Fashion but I don’t have time to keep up the trends. As long as the clothes are colourful and comfortable, I’ll wear it. I’m studying physical theatre, so I need to be able to move freely in my clothes.” Nthatisi Mashika, 3rd year Drama student specializing in Physical Theatre.
“I’ve always had an interest in fashion and enjoy shopping for clothes. When it comes to dressing, self-expression is important to me and also knowing what looks good on me. I believe that what you wear must always empower you to be yourself. I’m drawn to comfortable clothes and I like wearing neutral colours.” Grace Peters, USA exchange student, 2nd year, International Studies majoring in Politics and Anthropology.
“I dress according to how I feel. So it could be vintage, hip-hop, literally whatever I’m feeling like that day. My style mirrors my mood.” Unathi Balele, 2nd year Journalism student.
“My style is confidant, edgy and comfortable. By comfortable, I mean that I have to feel comfortable with how I look, the clothes don’t necessarily have to feel comfortable on me.” Lwethu Dube, 2nd year BA majoring in Psychology and Politics.
“My hair colour? I just saw it and thought: that’s a cool colour. My style is comfortable, easy going but bold. I’m not dressed until my hair looks good.” Tlotliso Fokazi.