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COLUMN: Clothing bears an impact from pedestrians to politicians

Just like a familiar scent or a reminiscent taste, clothing can bring a sense of nostalgia. 

When we recall different points in life, big events or small, more often than not we remember what we were wearing and what the people around us wore too. 

I, for one, vividly remember many outfits throughout the years and their ties to different phases of not only my style but also my identity.

When I see an orange and navy tribal print blouse hanging in the back of my closet, I’m taken back to my first day of college. It’s the shirt I wore as I arrived to my first 8 a.m. unnecessarily early. It’s the shirt I wore in my first photo posted on Instagram from IU. And it’s the shirt I wore as a clueless freshman running circles around campus before discovering the difference between Simon Hall and the Simon Music Center.

The shirt wasn’t my favorite color, it wasn’t given to me from someone special and it wasn’t even a shirt I was all that fond of, but the moment I threw it on it became a memory. 

However, what may be even more important than the clothes we wear is what we see on those around us that ignites recollection, association and curiosity.

When was the last time James Bond came to mind without the thought of a dapper black tuxedo suit, Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” without a vibrantly yellow gown or even Donald Trump without a “Make America Great Again” ball cap? 

When we think of people, they’re wearing something. Shirts, colors, jewelry, tattoos, so on and so forth can take us back to a place, a person or thing. We never know when an article of clothing will become so symbolic or imprinted in our memory, but it happens unconsciously, whether we like it or not. 

So often people say, “I’m not really into fashion” or “I don’t care about clothes.” Which, yes, some people spend more time staring in the mirror contemplating their outfit of the day than others. However, to say it doesn’t impact you or play a role in your day-to-day life is an entirely different claim, which I’d argue is wrong. 

What we wear can make us stand out, unite us and can even tell stories. Clothes make statements everywhere we turn, whether it’s the attendees of the 75th Golden Globes wearing black in honor of the “Time’s Up” movement, when Hillary Clinton wore all white on the eve of the 2017 Women's March on Washington or even Sia's famous wigs disguising her face. 

In this column, I'll discuss the clothing worn on our campus, on the red carpet and everything else fashion-related falling somewhere in between, while bridging the gap between attire and its connection to your life. 

Hopefully, by the end of the semester, you too will see how apparel and its impact — personal or universal — is constant. 

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