Campus fashion & etiquette 101: Sweatpants

Rob Kempson, ConED ’06
Rob Kempson, ConED ’06

As the inevitable frost creeps towards the Kingston waterfront, students at Queen’s are sensing the impending doom that is the winter to come. And yet as our Ghetto houses get colder, and that walk to an 8:30 a.m. class seems more unbearable, I find a troubling theme amongst a majority of uninformed students: sweatpants. While walking around campus, one hardly has to turn one’s head to find a victim of the comfort that is sweatpants. Now, I enjoy sweatpants as much as anyone, but please recognize their many—and apparent—downfalls.

Primarily, while students feel a need to wear sweatpants when it gets colder, few seem to realize that sweatpants actually do less to protect you from the cold Kingston winds than your favourite pair of jeans. On a purely physical level, while these pants may be fuzzy inside, that does not equate them to being thicker or more resistant to the wind than normal, non-sweat pants. In fact, in most cases, quite the opposite is true.

Moreover, I suppose I’m concerned with the image of the University. What does a campus full of dumpy sweatpant-wearing students look like to those outside of the campus bubble? Should sweatpants become comparable to academic argyle, representing the “Harvard of the North?” Will they eventually have the same stereotypical meaning as a sweater tied loosely around the shoulders? I certainly hope not. I cringe at the thought of future Queen’s Players shows where the geeky academic character’s costume is sweatpants.

Finally, I’ll make the unnecessary point that sweatpants are not designed to be attractive garments. I’m certainly not one to offer fashion advice, but I think most would agree that wearing sweatpants beyond your living room doesn’t make a fashion statement, save the obvious “no.” There is nothing flattering about wearing elastic or drawstring-waisted fleece bags beyond your front door. And as a general rule, most pairs of sweatpants are adorned with bits of morning cereal and coffee stains, only furthering their inability to catch positive attention.

What I ask is not that you give up sweatpants, noble students. I simply ask you to use them sparingly—wisely, if you will. Keep sweatpants for days when they’re really required—after a rough night out, or when you’re sick enough that you’ve grown a token sick beard. Essentially, I encourage you to save the sweatpants for a rainy day and prevent mass hysteria—or at least prevent an army of students with “Queen’s” silk-screened on their butts.

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