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Crocs, Prairie Dresses, and "Wife-Pleasers": What are Obies Wearing This Summer?

by Daisy Vollen

[originally published August 2021]


As the summer semester comes to an end, we are reflecting on campus culture over the past few months, namely the fashion. While there have always been students who stick around Oberlin in the summer, 2021 saw an unprecedented increase in these numbers with the college operating normally—or as normally as it could with less than half of the student body and the resurgence of a mask mandate beginning in August. So how did our peers handle this change? How did our wardrobes adapt to the sticky summer heat in Northeast Ohio? I sat down with a few students to hear their thoughts.

Firm believers of wearing pants and a short sleeve collared shirt whenever possible, Perry Mayo and Shaina Chung’s wardrobes haven’t shifted much for the summer. Mayo admits that they have begrudgingly been wearing more shorts lately as they are not used to the extreme seasons in Ohio. Chung’s biggest change has been in the footwear department. After months of eyeing Tevas online, Chung finally purchased a pair for the summer and has been enjoying wearing socks and sandals since they are one of the lucky few who can pull off the look. Comfort is a priority for both students, but another favorite fashion choice? An oversized button down with a fun pattern on top paired with solid bottoms. Chung often reaches for stripes and Hawaiian shirts, while their friend seeks out pieces with a little humor. Mayo explains their love for ironic pieces: “like this top. I hate golf… I like clothes that make me laugh, so like lots of shirts from trucking companies and things that don’t make sense for a small queer kid from LA to wear.” The pair agrees that 90s and early 2000s trends still dominate campus, but they have specifically seen lots of Crocs, slip dresses, and mullets or shaved heads. Chung personally doesn’t care for the early 2000s aesthetic, but thinks “it’s very Oberlin to warp things that are kind of ugly into things that are fashionable.”

Hailing from the Bay Area, Luce Miyar-Mullan has had to adjust to a drastically different climate for her first summer in Ohio. No matter how she feels she knows that dressing for the heat has to be a top priority. Even if it is gray and raining—the perfect time to layer up back home—they still reach for a pair of shorts when getting ready for the day. Miyar-Mullan defines their summer style as eclectic first and foremost, but playing with gender presentation has brought a fun approach to their outfits as well. She has enjoyed dressing hyper-feminine one day and hyper-masculine the next, or even combining the aesthetics like when she contrasts baggy clothes with a full face of makeup. The lush fields nearby have also influenced their summer attire as she has enjoyed leaning into the midwestern aesthetics by wearing prairie dresses like the one we caught them in. We’re excited to see how Miyar-Mullan and other Obies continue to embrace the “country vibes” and tweak them for the fall when we return to campus in October.

Avery Coreschi and Justin Lee agree that this summer has been the season to look sexy in a casual and comfortable way. They have been surprised by the lack of traditional leather Birkenstocks around campus, which seem to have been replaced by Crocs and other sandals made of elastic materials. Lee adds, “a lot of heads are wearing Reeboks.” Coreschi has remained pretty consistent with his wardrobe this semester compared to prior years, but Lee’s style has evolved from summers of the past. While he used to dress in more athletic clothing, he has started donning more jewelry and embracing his “emo bad boy” era.

Local fashionista Sam Ervolino has relied on the ABCs for their attire this semester: airy, bright, and casual. Past summers have been defined by the romance of summer dresses, but these are saved for special occasions now—no longer a day-to-day staple. Instead, Sam is evolving from the cutesy girl-next-door to the hottie you spot at the gym. While the jock aesthetic is not new to Ervolino, they have fully embraced athleisure as their go-to look in a way they have never had before. And they aren’t the only one whose style has shifted in this direction! Basketball shorts are one of top trends that Ervolino has spotted this semester. Other stand-outs of student fashion lately? Innerwear as outerwear. Wearing lingerie around campus is another trend that has been around Oberlin for a while, but Ervolino has seen its popularity increase even more in the summer heat. Those ribbed white sleeveless undershirts—perhaps being rebranded as “wife pleasers”—have also been spotted everywhere on all types of people. Finally, Ervolino has spotted many people sporting bikini tops in their everyday lives, but what else would you expect in this weather with Chance Creek so close by? The last one may not fit as cleanly into the “innerwear” category that Ervolino mentions, but the sentiment is there. Will the popularity of these styles fade as the temperature cools down next semester? Will they be adjusted and carried into the new season? Only time will tell.

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