By Zoe Deal
Western students are swapping sandals for sneakers and tank tops for sweaters as autumn begins in the Northwest. The first day of classes fell five days after the Autumn Equinox, bringing with it a swarm of new out-of-state students unaccustomed to the mild climate of Washington.
But the transition hasn’t been difficult for freshman Hanalei Lewine, a Minnesota native.
“The first five days I was here it was very sunny and warm which is like Minnesota in the summer,” she said. “I lived in The Netherlands for three years, and it’s very rainy there so I’m kind of used to it.”
In preparation for rain, Lewine has pulled out her raincoat, waterproofed her shoes and left her down winter coat behind.
Returning students and Washingtonians are already prepared. For some, dressing for the weather has become a mindless activity.
“I think a lot of people put more thought into it than me. I kind of just grab stuff,” senior Nick Miles said.
Though Miles was born in Washington, he came to Western after living in Texas for eight years.
Adapting to Washington wasn’t a challenge for him or his fiancée, freshman Aleta Neill. Also a Texan, Neill said she is acclimating seamlessly into Western’s style.
“I feel like I fit in more here than I did in Texas,” Neill said. “I like to be warm, and I like having my arms covered.”
Students feel at home in whatever they wear on campus, including Western’s style of Birkenstocks, mom jeans and Patagonia.
“I feel like everybody here is super expressive,” sophomore Zoe Poyen said. “I love being comfortable wearing either a garbage bag or a really cute dress. If I’m going to rock it, I’m going to rock it.”
Miles said he feels connected to other students by his clothing.
“I can relate to some people better because of what we wear,” he said.
Freshman Erin Mcallister said she communicates her identity through her clothing with her “Fighting Animal Testing” bag and self-made vagina necklace. Like many Western students, Mcallister gets her clothing from friends and thrift stores.
“I just rely on the cheapest possible clothing I can get,” she said.
The dorm T-shirts handed out on move-in day are one way Lewine said she feels connected to other freshmen at Western.
“Someone told me you can tell who’s from Washington, because when it gets into the 60s they wear their light puffy coats, and then when it gets down into the 50s they wear their heavy puffy coats. And I have seen a lot of people wearing puffy coats when I’m wearing a T-shirt,” Lewine said.
When it comes to purchasing the Western clothing staple, Lewine remains wary. She said she’s not sure if she’s going to invest in a puffy coat, yet. For now, she is comfortable wearing her fleece jacket.
Though the geographical diversity of Western’s student body may stay hidden in the realm of fashion, the motivations and personalities of individuals shines through regardless of the season. Moving forward into the 2017-18 school year, clothing will continue to bring students together and create a common thread of confidence and belonging for a new generation of Western students.