Fashion across the Atlantic

by Anna Berkowitz (certified American)

I would like to begin this article with the simple statement that I am not supremely qualified to write this piece. I would describe my style as simply functional (I have worn the same coloured sweaters and jeans on rotation for the past five years). However, this doesn’t stop me from observing the stylistic choices of others and subsequently generalising. 

As I am in the unenviable position of having spent extended time on university and college campuses in America and London, I can tell you that fashion varies wildly between the two countries. 

First, and perhaps unsurprisingly, American students are by nature, more casual than your average London student. Yes, I’m sure you get the odd person in your class who might be wearing leggings, but in the US, I would expect to see maybe a quarter of my class wearing some version of pyjamas. Not a bad thing, by the way! I’m going off a small sample size here, and perhaps only applies to London, but there are people walking around LSE who look like they’re on their way to their entry level position at JP Morgan after class. 

Let me preface my next point with a disclaimer: I know the climate of London is different from that of the East Coast, but you’ll rarely see men in shorts in the UK. The frat boy culture is simply not strong enough. However, in the US, it’s endemic and they are everywhere. I had one friend say to me last year that he couldn’t remember the last time he wore full length trousers, and he is 21 years old. To quote cultural critic and personal icon Fran Lebowitz, “to have grown men sitting on the subway wearing shorts? That’s disgusting.”

Lastly, American students love, and I mean love, to wear their university labelled sweatshirts. I myself have many sweatshirts that say “AMERICAN UNIVERSITY” in varying sizes and fonts and I don’t even know why. In case you were wondering – yes, American University is a real uni. That is not to say that this phenomenon is completely absent in the UK, but it’s much less prevalent. This trend seems to have followed me here, and those department hoodies are particularly awful. At least here it’s mostly limited to those who really want the rest of us to know they do finance. Wow! Do you do finance?? That’s so cool and very impressive. 

Image by Memes of LSE

Maybe one day these fashion differences will converge, but until then I will revel in these contrasting university fashion norms, and continue making surface level observations about them.  

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