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What is the story with this trend for ripped jeans? It’s been ongoing for an age now. I feel like it’s meant to look a bit “devil-may-care”, y’know – like, we don’t play by your rules, man. You want jeans with all their fabric intact? What a friggin’ square.

I think this is a leftover of that grunge trend that came back into fashion a while ago. All it left in its wake were these ‘distressed’ forms of pant and oversized tartan shirts, which some of you are calling ‘plaid’ shirts. I have been spending quite a bit of time over the last few weeks searching for a pair of jeans that (a) don’t highlight how small my legs are, and (b) don’t have these stupid, goddamn tears and rips all over the legs. It has been harder than you’d think.

So I gave in, and bought a pair today.

I know, I know. I’m a sellout, and my knee is cold. But I don’t hate them. Plus they have pockets, which is no laughing matter when you’re buying women’s jeans. If I was being honest, I do see the appeal – particularly for warmer weather. You can just hold your knee up to the breeze and cool yourself down a bit without the rigamarole. I get it.

As I said, I see these jeans all the time walking around college, but I always reckoned it was more because that’s literally all the shops are selling these days. I’ve spotted very few identifiable trends among the student population, but I’d call this one. I’d also call those skinny-leg tracksuit pants that all the lawds are wearing a big trend, because seriously – it’s pervasive. But that’s pretty much it. I’ve never been a big follower of trends in the first place, so maybe I just don’t take much notice of what other people wear.

Other people apparently take notice, though.

I was scrolling through YikYak t’other day (I know, I hate myself) and came across a very interesting thread about fashion in college. I don’t have screenshots because I’m not one for foresight, but the gist of it was that about seven different people were giving out about what they saw as a pressure to dress nicely and do their hair and makeup and all that jazz every day when they come into college, because people would tend to judge them if they turned up in, for example, a tracksuit or leggings.

Now, I have no doubt that this happens, no doubt at all. There’s no denying that snobbery exists in Irish universities (it comes hand in hand with the classism, but that’s a topic for another day). Personally, I hang around a group of very nice and welcoming people, who generally wouldn’t give a shit if I turned up to college with no pants on (OK, I mean, they’d probably ask me to cover myself up if I had no pants on, because that’s a bit illegal. But you get what I mean) – meaning I’ve been more sheltered than some from this kind of nonsense. But it does happen: oh yes, it does happen.

Everybody makes snap judgements about other people based on what they’re wearing. We all do it, and we can’t really help it, unfortunately. What we wear is often a reflection of our tastes, and that line of thinking often leads to us presuming that their aesthetic preferences can tell us something about a person’s personality. This is understandable.

An issue arises when this external focus combines with internal prejudice on the behalf of the observer. When that happens, people convince themselves that a certain someone is going to act a certain way because they dress like a certain someone else, and they react to that person accordingly. It’s a very common cognitive error (lads, I’m rolling in fancy terminology today, hah? ‘Mup) that we make every day, but it’s still, at the end of the day, an error. You can’t deduce a person’s personality from the clothes they’re wearing. Obviously.

Yes, obviously, we all know this. And yet! And yet. And yet we continue to do it. As much as we hate it when people jump to conclusions about us based on the way we look, we continue to do it to other people. And I don’t think it’s going to stop any time soon.

The thing is, if you’re going to get side-eyed no matter what you wear, why not just wear it anyway? The majority of people you come into contact with in any given day are strangers who’ll you’ll never see again, so frankly, who gives a shit about their opinions? If you’re comfortable, if you feel good, wear whatever you want – whether that’s a tracksuit or a bleedin’ ballgown, wear whatever you want.

Now, obviously, you can’t go from being self-conscious to being a radiant sunbeam of self-esteem overnight. Speaking from personal experience, I can say that one of the best ways of getting to a place where you’re comfortable in your own skin is just to let other people be comfortable in theirs. If you catch yourself making a bit of a sly remark about someone’s appearance, just stop, and think: why do I care? Why does the way this person chooses to dress bother me in this way? Why am I being an ass-noodle? Are they not happy? Come on, guys. Give peace a chance.

I mean, you’re still going to have to wear a suit and some sort of pants (I do not have anything against pants, alright. I just don’t trust them) if you want to make a good impression at that job interview. Maybe don’t wear a bikini or Speedos to work if you’re a primary school teacher. Your “birthday suit” is not an appropriate outfit for a funeral, man, come on. Sometimes you might have to take other things into account, because that’s how society works. But in day-to-day life, let’s just start livin’ and lettin’ live, amirite? If you want to wear your fancy-ass ripped jeans, more power to you. The same goes for leggings or tracksuit pants or a banana suit.

We’re all going to die, so fuck it, frankly. You do you. And let others do them. And let everyone do whoever they want to do as long as everyone involved has given their informed consent as an adult of sound mind.

So, to sum up: wear what you want. Also: don’t talk no shit, won’t be no shit. You’re in college. Now is the time to create yourself (I mean, as is any time), so go ahead and live while letting live.