There’s more than one way to be Coug, as our gallery of student styles demonstrates. If clothes could talk, they’d speak volumes about the lifestyles and affiliations of their wearers.
And, in fact, they do, according to Linda Arthur, who teaches in Washington State University’s apparel merchandising, design and textiles department. She and Mark Konty, formerly of the sociology department, summed up their students’ research on student subcultures at WSU to see how people were communicating their identity through dress.
Of the 1,200 students and alums surveyed, 65 percent fit into the collegiate subculture. Within that group there are the Greeks, who are well dressed and often accessorized with makeup, jewelry, and designer items like purses. There is also the party culture, whose members dress like the Greeks, but without the Greek symbols. Then there are athletes, who wear no makeup and usually sport baggy clothes and tennis shoes. Finally, there are those who exhibit Wazzu style. They display the WSU mascot/cougar on most apparel, rarely wear high fashion, and often sport t-shirts, hats, and other clothing in school colors. Grooming for Wazzu style is low maintenance, carefree.
The other subcultures Arthur and Konty’s students identified are vocational (15 percent of the students—business, music, agriculture, and returning students), academic (10 percent—geeks, honor students, and bookworms), and non-conformist (10 percent—punks, goths, skaters, hippies/granolas, and hip hop).
To get a sampling of student dress at WSU, take a look at what we found on the Pullman campus last spring—and see if you can identify the styles…
Photographs by Hannelore Sudermann