A recent survey has revealed that 45% of students attending universities across Ireland feel the need to dress a certain way in college.
These results come after 100 college students answered a survey about university life having an effect on their body image and what they wear to college.
One UCD female student said: “I wore a tracksuit to college last week for the second time this year. I couldn't wait to get home and change. Even though my body was comfortable, which was perfect as I had 3 hour labs that day, I felt extremely uncomfortable around my peers.
"Everyone dresses well all the time, with perfect hair & make up, and they carry their copies and books in Michael Kors bags. It's very intimidating, and I feel under massive pressure to buy more expensive clothes. In my home town, I'm proud to tell people that I found a pair of boots in Pennys for half price. In Dublin, I'd be ashamed to admit that.”
The survey focuses on students' opinions towards their own body image while in college, but also the differences between universities around the country. The universities mentioned include; University College Dublin (UCD), University of Limerick (UL), Dublin City University, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College of Cork (UCC) and NUI Galway. Students studying abroad also commented on the matter.
The majority of students agreed that Dublin is the fashion capital of Ireland, so therefore students attending UCD, Trinity and DCU may feel the need to “dress up” while in college, in comparison to the likes of the laid-back atmosphere in UL, NUIG and UCC.
David from TCD said: “Yeah I suppose Dublin colleges have that name behind them to be really stylish. Like people say you wouldn't be caught wearing a tracksuit in the likes of Trinity, so UCD would follow suit, whereas the likes of UL and colleges outside of Dublin seem more relaxed for some reason.”
The results from the survey proved that 80% of UCD students felt that there is massive pressure to wear branded clothing such as Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. However Welfare Officer for UCD, Maeve De Say, disagrees: “Overall UCD students wear whatever they like to wear – some wear tracksuits, others don’t - it’s a matter of choice.”
De Say then suggested that certain students might feel the pressure depending on what faculty they are studying in: “Particular facilities like the Quinn school might feel the need to dress up more, there are a lot of branded clothing around that area,” she explained.
One DCU student also disagreed with the idea of having to “dress up” in their college: “DCU is a complete mixed bunch of students from all different walks of life, everyone and anyone is there. Colleges like Trinity and UCD have a name for students who have to have designer clothes and wouldn't be caught dead without their Hollister or Abercrombie gear, there’s no denying it.”
As both UL and UCD are sport driven universities I thought it would be interesting to find out if students in either college would feel that it was unacceptable to wear a tracksuit to college.
A female student in the University of Limerick said: “Having discussed this with a friend who attends UCD, I believe it is much more acceptable in UL than UCD. Having said that, I know of many girls who wouldn't be seen dead going to college in a tracksuit in UL.”
Sean who is in his final year of Sport and Exercise Management in UCD agreed: “Even though UCD is sports driven I wouldn't wear a track suit around college because people do judge. It's seen as lazy. Some lads dress up and even wear shirts to lectures. I was in UL before and it was so laid back, I even noticed the difference in girls. They weren't plastered in makeup and wearing high heels around the place.”
Opinion seemed to be divided on this:
“As a UL student, (female) I personally would never wear a tracksuit to college - going to the library is like a fashion show and I would never go in looking 'rough' as I would feel I was being judged by other females.”
One UL student said: “Yeah, most lads in UL wear tracksuits, friends in UCC have also said they wouldn't dream of wearing a tracksuit into college either.”
A UCD business student also gave their opinion on the matter: “I don't see the difference in wearing a tracksuit to UCD or UL, but I do think UCD has a wider range of subjects which might not have a background involving sports and a tracksuit might not appeal to them students.”
According to the survey, 61% of students stated that their attire for college was casual but smart, while 30% of females admitted to wearing make-up to the gym.
Finally, those who completed the survey were asked to select a university which they thought might put pressure on students to dress a certain way. The results were as followed:
UCD: 53 students chose UCD
NUIG: 2 students chose NUI Galway
UCC: 10 students picked UCC
UL: 13 students picked UL
DCU: 16 students chose DCU
Trinity: 5 students chose Trinity