I received an email this weekend from a reader who is going to college this fall. She was checking out St. Paul in preparation and asked for a few shopping ideas. Corresponding with her got me thinking about my own college days - it's been almost 8 years since I graduated from the University of MN. When I was in high school, thinking about college and all the great things it would bring (freedom from rules, the ability to "find" myself, exposure to new people and circumstances) I never could have imagined that those 3.5 years were just the beginning. College certainly did bring me newfound freedom (staying up all night, making new friends, going to parties, discovering Van Morrison, falling in love), and it was then that I started to find out who I am. I was extremely surprised to find out that who I am really wasn't all that different from who I'd been all those years before. College gave me the self-awareness to make that realization, I suppose.
After all the experiences I went through (experiences not unlike the ones you probably had, or will have) some things lasted longer than others - my first love is long gone, replaced by my fantastic husband who is the love. Many of my friends are still in my life; the sense of independence and confidence I gained are even stronger than back then...but I don't have even a single article of clothing from back in the day. Nothing. The core of "me"hasn't changed but (good Lord!) my wardobe certainly has. And the selection in plus size clothing has most definitely changed since 2001!!
I was in a sorority during college, which meant I wore a lot of khaki pants and was peer pressured into matching my purse with my belt and shoes. My sorority sisters would have been jealous of these really cute Flap-pocket Twill khakis from Old Navy. Available in four colors, I would have lived in them had they been around back then.
I dated a guy who was not (how to say this nicely...because he was a pretty nice guy!) exactly stylish. And, being an 18-year old girl who hadn't quite figured out that conforming to a guy's taste is the ultimate no-no, I dressed down just a little bit. This Ruched Yoke Gypsy top from Evans of London would have fit the bill for a date night with the BF - and by date night I mean hanging out in the dorm with a bunch of friends followed by a late-night walk to Perkins.
Although I really DO NOT want to admit this, I'm going to. Like many (many!) a college student, I did find myself running across the Washington Avenue Bridge to my 8 AM German class in my pajamas. A few times. I wish I could say they were this cute. They weren't.
And finally, one accessory that every college student can't live without: the book bag. I went through a lot of book bags throughout college, never quite finding the perfect one that was both functional and expressive of my personality/style (probably because I was still working that out). If I knew then what I know now (that comfort is key, as are organizational pockets, and the ability to fit three books the size of encyclopedias + a makeup kit) I would have chosen this one: Seriously, you can't go wrong with Jansport. Sure, it's not as glamourous as the leather satchel that strangely sophisticated girl in Art Appreciation carries...but this is about you. When you're hiking across campus, you'll be happy to have extra padded shoulder straps.
Oh college...good times. And bad times. Kind of like life - college is a complete crash course in real life. As long as you don't fall into the mental trap of believing that college is real life (because honestly, there is no way you'll be able to wear pajamas to an 8 AM meeting in the real world), you'll probably come out unscathed. A little older, wiser, and hopefully more confident in the Bombshell that you are.
Photo credits: OldNavy.com; Evans.co.uk, Jansport.com