What my bucket hat is really saying

I’m dusting off my gold clogs and firmly standing by my love for sartorial ridiculousness

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Kate Snyder is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

I’m prone to passionate love affairs. My first was with John Travolta as Danny Zuko in “Grease,” followed closely by Zac Efron as Troy Bolton in “High School Musical” and my most recent was one I had with a leopard-print bucket hat. I’d become enamored of the thing when I first saw it in a promotional email from the company Ganni, a Danish brand, and my lust only grew when I finally tried the hat on in one of their brick-and-mortar stores while studying abroad in Copenhagen this past summer.

I didn’t buy it then — barring myself from spending on a hat worth what was equivalent to the amount of money I budget for groceries, but my heart continued to ache. I dressed the wound frequently, looking back at selfies and videos I’d taken while wearing the hat in the shop and checking the Ganni website obsessively, praying that the hat would feature in their next round of markdowns.

As September sped to a close, all the logistical questions and red tape that come with the start of a new semester came to the fore, and my obsession with the bucket hat receded to the back of my mind. Then, in a period of limbo between the end of an exam and the beginnings of an essay, I received a promotional email from my quasi-penpals at Ganni that announced a new slate of additions to their sale section.

I clicked through the items absentmindedly, and much to my disbelief, there, among various puff-sleeved sweaters and wide-legged pants, was MY HAT — marked down a whopping 50 PERCENT. I let out an audible gasp and compulsively began mentally Cher Horowitz-ing my wardrobe, scrolling through a mental catalog of all those outfits that would pair perfectly with the leopard print number. Confusingly, however, as I browsed the combinations, I felt more and more dejected.

Ever since the ‘80s, when my young parents wore wrinkled oxford-cloth button-downs and Laura Ashley bag dresses to Foxfield, the University’s student body has been pretty notorious for its very distinct uniform. There’s still evidence of the University’s roots as one of the harbingers of prepdom, and game day still means a lot of polo shirts and khakis. Contemporarily, however, on a typical Tuesday, the University’s campus is awash with athleisure, more specifically with Lululemon, often paired with an artfully faded and worn item of frat-party memorabilia — some play on “palooza” or “pig roast.” The typical student is at once extremely laid-back and apparently on their way to the gym.

I don’t have anything against the brightly colored spandex tank tops and leggings — I swear, I love a good wicking fabric — but it is not my nature to wear performance-gear unless I’m sweating on purpose. I simply don’t feel like myself in leggings and a T-shirt, and I cite a high value in the capacity of my clothes to express intricate and nuanced details about who I am.

As activewear stands as the dominant dress-code, the sartorial landscape of black spandex serves to amplify the apparent audacity of those that stray from the uniform. In turn, many of the things that I relish wearing in the summer or while home for break stay tucked away in my closet — cue the “When She Loved Me” scene from “Toy Story 2.”

Evidently, I’m not the only one who notices a shift in their style upon each return to Grounds — my roommate has a pair of flowing blue pants that she wears all summer but tucks away come the start of September, and my best friend’s favorite chunky sweater, passed down from her mom, stays at home — only to be worn during Thanksgiving break. These items, which we love in all other contexts, suddenly become verboten in the back-to-school setting, as we become more conscious of how our peers might read our stylistic statements.

As the screen dimmed on my bucket-hat, bored by my neglect, I felt ashamed at my own readiness to yield the powers of my self-expression at the perceived behest of the mob. Although it may become more difficult to make daring and exciting style choices in the context of the University, I uphold that the practice is even more valuable, and I’m moved to remain true to myself in every sartorial choice I make, no matter how ridiculous.

My bucket hat will be arriving in five to seven business days.

Kate Snyder is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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