(PS: Wrote this article at the hieght of the dress code debate on Nigerian university campuses, but never got a chance to publish. Enjoy and like any other articles i'll write, please give me feedback on both the topic, my approach and the writing)
Think Classroom not Club
By Adaure Achumba
Pornography in Motion!! Call girls and vagabonds!!! Goodness gracious, things must have gone amuck for such harsh newspaper headlines and drastic measures in the form of a dress code.
Indeed the university is an ideal place to express one’s individualism whether on the academic, social or fashionable level. It is an environment that should not possess stringent rules and regulations except when it comes to academic integrity, crime and safety. A dress code prohibits freedom of expression and choice by imposing the views of one sector of the university body upon another, and therefore does not belong there. What should have been prescribed, and is politically correct in what I presume is a democracy, are ‘guidelines’ for dressing. It is wrong to impose such ‘codes’ on an adult body of students without any discourse; as such it tramples on students rights.
But in all honesty these campus girls have some audacity and are really tripping. What is anyone in her right mind thinking dressing like a two-penny hooker, or as the case may be, ten-kobo ashewo, to lecture? That look belongs on Sanusi Fafunwa Street not on any university campus. Then again, this is ‘Hatorade-filled’ Nigeria we are talking about, where every female not dressed in a frumpy dresses, kaftans, iro-and-buba or oversized maternity-like clothes probably looks like she could be SFS material.
In order for us to be able to differentiate the call girls and vagabonds from the college co-eds, here are a few logical fashion guidelines that every one ought to keep in mind when you jump out of bed on a fine school or work morning. Now I am not saying I am a fashion guru or anything of the sort, but trust me, any advice to bring some level of decorum back into the classroom on Nigerian campuses, and in some cases, church and the workplace, is worth giving an ear or two.
CLUB AND CAMPUS ARE TWO RADICALLY DIFFERENT WORLDS: The University is the perfect place to express one’s sense of fashion and style and so is the club. Therefore it is important for one to be able to differentiate what is appropriate for these very trendy fashion venues. I am assuming this is the difficult part, otherwise we wouldn’t have had this problem of skimpily clad girls exposing their bosoms, and butt-cheeks and butt crack in the first place. So here’s a little something that might help you keep your exhibitionism in check: If you go club-hopping in an outfit, then you probably don’t want to be wearing the same outfit to class or work. Perhaps you didn’t get the memo: you are tempting your lecturers to sin and distracting your classmates. Like that should even be an issue, then again we are talking about Nigeria, but that’s a topic for another article. When you ransack your wardrobe and go through dozens of outfits in the morning, think Room 1145, not Club 11:45, think ‘A+’ and instead of ‘A-’, as in ‘A-bar’. If you follow this religiously, you may save your self the embarrassment of being walked out of class and save you professor from going red at the size of your ‘honkers’.
TRUST ME, IT ISN’T THAT HOT: Oh yes, the heat, it is certainly unbearable and it has become the most flimsy excuse for baring it all. In a perfect world I would love to walk around in a bikini top and hang loose every now and then. But the world isn’t perfect; you’re in Lagos, Nigeria not South Beach, Miami, so let’s get real here people. What business do you have wearing a bikini anywhere but the beach and the poolside? It is not like you have a banging body like Beyonce or Halle so please chill. People who live in the Sahara have not resorted to nakedness have they? Until they do, you have no right to complain about the heat or use it as an excuse to show off your humanly goods.
WE CAN SEE THE ROLLS: I don’t think we’re ready for all that jelly. If you are not wearing a tank top under that chiffon or sheer lace blouse, then you might want to keep it in the lingerie drawer. It is even more unflattering when the wearer is not in the best shape to wear such clothes, and that includes the skinny girls and guys too. In fact, whether you are cut like Tyson or Tyra, we don’t need to be seeing all that skin in the daytime it can cause accidents.
IF IT LOOKS TOO SMALL, IT PROBABLY IS: Most clothes come in all sorts of stretchy fabrics these days, but that doesn’t mean you can fit into them if you tried. They don’t make you look any smaller or accentuate your features; they just make you look stiff, like you were plopped into a barrel of wet cement. Those super low-rise jeans or skirts that are too tight will dig into your sides revealing those little ugly bulges we all want to hide. And what is up with chicks wearing several pants and clothes sizes smaller than their size? You’ll only be showing those fat rolls, and we know you don’t want us seeing that. Certainly some clothes, especially jeans and some body tops look nicer when they fit and hug the curves, but they don’t have to be squeezing the air out of your butt and the milk out of your breasts. Minimal cleavage in the daytime is fine but please try not to look like L’il Kim or the Playboy centerfold with mammary glands hanging out all over the place.
IF IT LOOKS SHORT, IT PROBABLY IS: The mini is back with a vengeance and will take down those who dare to bend over. This funky look is my favorite this year and it is very trendy and sexy, but it is not for every one. Ladies, you need to save yourself the trouble and draw a line between looking like a stylish runway fashion model knock-off and looking like a sleazy slut. It is definitely not the best outfit to wear to work or church and if you are not small enough to make this sexy look innocent enough for the classroom, then please tie a wrapper.
IF YOU THINK YOU ARE TOO OLD TO BE SPORTING IT, THEN YOU PROBABLY ARE: I know we have some over-thirty folks in universities and they want to fit in with the younger hip crowd. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact I encourage the older people to join the bandwagon of trendsetters and create their own individual fashion styles. But the last thing you want is to look ridiculous and uncomfortable. It is fine to dress out of your age group once in a while, but look like a grown up while you are at it. If you have a protruding ‘mummy tummy’ and you are not pregnant, then it is not a good idea to flaunt your figure or stomach with a tight top. Older, bigger and more mature women look prettier and are more stylish when they keep the flaunting at a minimum. Think linen instead of Lycra. For those wanna-be yuppie older guys, ‘biko’ kill the ‘City Jeans’ it is not funky at all.
TIMBERLANDS AND CANVAS SHOES DON’T GO WITH EVERY THING: Ok, I really had to throw this one in because it really irks me. Tims and tennis shoes are very comfortable to walk around in on campus, especially if you have to hike from Senate to Education during fuel scarcity. But that is all they are suitable for, especially if you are rocking a casual look. I really hate to see guys and gals alike in dress slacks, dress skirts and dress shirts wearing tennis shoes or Tims, and you know they don’t have a pair of dress shoes in their backpack. Chuck those ‘chucks’ in the closet if you are not going to the gym or sports center to workout.
SPEEDO TIGHT TROUSERS AND SHORTS BELONG IN THE 80’S: Now if tight tops on women are offensive, then there is no sight more repulsive than men in tight pants that reveal their bulge. Like dude, let your nuts breathe. Seriously, only competitive swimmers and gymnasts are allowed to wear anything that tight, in their respective workplaces. Even gay men are beginning to phase that trend out.
YOU ARE NOT THE RAINBOW COALITION: It is summer all year round in the beautiful motherland and the sun is already bright and blinding enough as it is, we don’t need another object bouncing offensive and harmful laser beams and UV rays into our eyes. That style of dressing has the potential to cause accidents. The fluorescent thing died with the Spice girls so tone it down. If you must wear loud bright colors, especially on shiny, reflective fabrics in the daytime, pair it with black or white. If you can’t work it well, it might even be better if you didn’t wear it at all.
MAMMYWATER LOOK IS NEVER IN STYLE: Gone are the days of the ‘Nneka the pretty serpent’ look. I am talking about those shockingly red lips thickly line with black eye pencil paired with blue, green and metallic eye shadow. I know MAC just came out with a new line of bubble gum make-up color palette but try not to scare the kids by looking like a masquerade. Layering up on that lipstick, lip-gloss or foundation in the tropical heat makes you look like a melting Michael Jackson, and speaking from personal experience as well as observation that is not flattering at all. I have qualms about the rampant weave wearing and glorifying the perm in African society over natural kinks, but what I really cannot stand is why a proud black person would want to wear blond hair. A little color and highlights every now and then is very stylish, but the blond look on an especially dark person is a ghastly fashion faux pas. Don’t even get me started on the ones that have bleached themselves polythene-bag transparent; I will save their case for another day.
YOU LIVE NEXT TO THE EQUATOR AND IT WILL NEVER SNOW: People harmattan and winter are two very different things. Just because the rest of the world is touting fall and winter fashion for back to school does not mean that you should follow them. For the love of God, what are you thinking wearing a bubble vest, leather, pleather or vinyl outfit in 40 degrees Celsius weather? Do you want to bake or die of heat stroke? If your jeans or pants are not covering your knee length boots, by all means save them for when you travel abroad during the winter months. Gone are the Patra and SWV days when rocking knee-highs with hot pants and summer dresses were cool, shoo!! I did that too, but that was way back in 1995; it’s 2005, get out of that time warp. Sure it gets chilly every now and then, but a long-sleeved ‘cotton’ shirt or a light sweater is enough to keep you warm; a pashmina, shawl or light-knit poncho can pass but please take it off after 10 am if it is not windy or raining, and you are not in a ‘freezingly’ air-conditioned room.
Fashion is just one way the world perceives a person; it is the least important thing any student needs to care about. Never get carried away and most of all never allow it to entirely define one’s personality. No one is ever graded on how current one is with the fashion world. Spend more time concentrating on what and whether you are learning anything in class than how you look, you’ll have more time and money to do that when you’ve graduated and have a job.
This is definitely not the Bible but this would suffice for those ‘certain’ people who really have no basic judgment of what and what not to wear to class, so much so that the university authority actually took the time to congregate in the Senate to ponder about fashion rather than intellectual discourse, the scourge of academic crime and other vices that prevent academic institution sin our country from rivaling others around the world.
In the event that you need more help determining what clothes are appropriate what certain places, check out the quick review list on Basic Fashion Do’s and Don’ts that you need to keep in mind and can easily memorize so you are not found guilty of fashion treason.
BASIC FASHION DO’S AND DON’T
I am sure many of us have gone through lists like this while reading magazines, but it seems like some people skipped the ‘read’ part and only looked at the pictures. So here is a quick review of basic fashion guidelines for different places, which everyone should follow. You can find these and more with a basic Internet search engine and of course some common sense.
WORK PLACE, PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL AND INTERVIEWS (could be suitable for church)
Men and Women
Conservative two-piece business suit (solid dark blue, Black or gray is best) save the traditional for church, social events and when you’ve gotten the job
Conservative long-sleeved shirt/ ¾ length sleeved blouse (white is best, pastel is next best)
Clean, polished conservative shoes
Clean, trimmed fingernails, not claws
Minimal cologne or perfume
Empty pockets--no bulges or tinkling coins
No gum, candy or cigarettes
Light briefcase or portfolio case and if you have a lot of text books, paper work and documents, a basic black carry-on with a pulley is smarter looking than carrying heavy backpacks and multiple bags
No visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.) and tattoos
Necktie should be silk with a conservative pattern. Bright ties do bring focus to the face, but a simple pattern is best. Larger men should use a double Windsor knot to minimize a bulky appearance
Dark shoes, well polished and lightly worn (black lace-ups and penny-loafers are best). The key is to separate your everyday knock-about shoes from your dress/church shoes
Dark socks high enough so that when you sit or cross your legs, your skin is not visible (black is best)
Get a haircut; short hair always fares best in interviews. If you keep an Afro, tame it by twisting it and if you keep locks make sure they are clean and well groomed.
No beards (unless you are interviewing for a job as a lumberjack!)
Mustaches and goatees must be neat and trimmed
No rings other than wedding ring or college ring
No earrings (if you normally wear one, take it out)
Always wear a suit with a jacket; no dresses
Shoes with conservative heels
Conservative hosiery at or near skin color if needed (and no runs!)
No purses, small or large; carry a briefcase or portfolio instead
If you wear nail polish (not required), use clear or a conservative color
Minimal use of makeup (it should not be too noticeable except if the job requires it)
No more than one ring on each hand
One set of earrings only
YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH BASIC TRADITIONAL CLOTHES
Although I don’t agree that women have to cover their hair in church and shouldn’t wear trousers, make sure your pastors are cool with it and you won’t be causing a scene or be kicked out.
Keep your club clothes at home
Be conservative with your dressing, jewelry and make up, even during a wedding; you never want to upstage the bride and her bridal party
Those hats and geles might be funky and trendy, but be considerate of the person sitting behind you
Even though it is really hard, make an effort to avoid wearing denim, especially tight fitted low-rise jeans.
Never look scruffy, especially if you can look nice
Who said pregnant women can’t and shouldn’t look sexy? You don’t have to stick to those frumpy boo-boos and maternity gowns
If you must wear traditional save boo-boos and iro-and-buba for lounging at home or the kitchen, opt for shapely kaftans or create a style that is flattering to your new figure
Just as is with any dressing, foundation is important especially with a changing body. Choose the right kind of bras and underwear and always have two or three comfortable full body foundation or strapless long line bra for both every day and occasions
Don’t wear oversized clothes instead focus on fit. Fitted maternity clothes or a solid colored dress, can make you look more sophisticated, attractive, and sexy.
Accessorizing is key. Pins, corsages, scarves and simple jewelry can make a casual look very classy
Do wear comfortable shoes especially if you will be doing a lot of walking, but don’t stick to flats and mules, opt for tennis shoes and walking shoes and for occasions dressy low heeled pumps and sandals would add a touch of elegance.
Don’t wear men’s shirts, opt for a tunic especially over pants
Wear tailored pants with adequate space at the waistline; avoid clingy pants that ride up when you walk.
Try to be trendy. An empire waist dress or top is very chic and so are short a-line dresses over pants.
Don’t wear bold patterns and colors if you are heavyset or long tops if you are petite. They are not flattering.
Do take time to pamper and prim your self. Just because you are having morning sickness and getting a fat tummy doesn’t mean you should look miserable. You don’t want to scare your husband away from home. Change your hairstyle and color periodically and wear light make up
Don’t try to squeeze into regular clothes, they just make you look heavier and uncomfortable, If you can’t find anything you like opt for tailor-made and choose soft fabrics
Never hide your belly; pregnancy is a time to celebrate your womanhood and the creation of life within your growing abdomen. Even if it’s an unplanned pregnancy, be proud you made the choice of bringing life as opposed to an abortion. Do show off your new figure tastefully and maturely. Visit http://www.apeainthepod.com/ and http://www.mimimaternity.com/ for more
Don’t be an optical illusion wearing striped shirts with plaid, or floral prints
Don’t wear socks with a million holes. You are no longer in primary school
Don’t wear tennis shoes (chucks canvas or whatever you chose to call them) with a dress or skirt except if you are going to play tennis.
Socks with capris and fashionably short pants should be reserved for bowling
Don’t wear a hat if it doesn’t match your outfit toss the hat if it does nothing for your look. If you must wear a hat, and you don’t have one that matches, stick to black, white or dressy straw hats.
Do keep the feathers sticking out of your hair at a minimum you are not a chicken.
Do wear vertical stripes if you are chubby.
Don’t walk like a thug if you are wearing a miniskirt
Don’t attract butterflies by wearing floral pants with floral shirt; opt for solid-colored pants or capris that match the shirt’s color palette.
Don’t wear clothes with okra soup and bleach stain or any stain for that matter. Wash stain right away or toss them out
Don’t wear jeans or pants that are too short or capris that are long
Don’t look like someone’s grandmother wearing old lady clothes
Do take your time to pick out a nice outfit and iron your clothes because your appearance knocks off or adds major points to your personality meter.
For more fashion tips and guidelines do a simple google search or visit http://www.masterstech-home.com/The_Sewing_Room/Articles/212FashionDosAndDonts.html