The yard is their stage and the halls are their runways. Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities have continuously taken the fashion scene by storm. In the recent years at HBCUs, fashion and style has evolved from uniformed into individualistic.
While black fashion at colleges and universities are a rarity in college pamphlets and brochures, there are many students who have made great strides—not only in their academics, but also in their blazers embossed with their institutions emblem.
Traditionally, students at HBCUs adopted the style of Ivy League—a type of style that originated on college campuses. Stemming from the traditions of collegiate Ivy League schools such as Brown, Yale, and Columbia University. Although, students at HBCUs didn’t adapt to the style, but rather they altered and revised it to conform to their culture.
Both, men and women—collectively—subscribed to one particular style of dress and it served as the epitome of dress code on the college campuses. Amid the men in tailored suits, blazers, and dockers; women in pleated skirts, blouses, and dresses—dress code was cohesive.
“No matter how much the fashion and style at HBCUs may evolve, there is always an evident influence of classic Ivy League prep in our ensembles”, Sophomore at Morehouse College Nate Suarez said.
As the 1970s approached, Afros and dashikis made their way onto the campuses bombarding the collegiate style of dressing. Students began to adopt an Afrocentric style of dressing along with the influence from the Black Panther Party, donned in all black attire and eccentric pattered clothing.
However, in the 1980s western European glamour and luxury along with preppy, the descendant of Ivy League, influenced the style of that time. Along with the 1990s came the versatility of the college sweatshirt, Nike sneakers for both sexes, and disappearance of restricting fashion standards, mirroring that of hip-hop and R&B icons.
In its current state of fashion, students at HBCUs are now more individualistic than ever. Rather than conform to a specific style of dressing, students are inspired by different fashion trends from different decades. There is no definite way to describe a style of dressing on any particular HBCU campus.
In particular, styles that have dominated the campuses are Ivy League, urban street wear, and the Afrocentric style of dressing. Students at these institutions understand that fashion is their form of expression and speaking to their peers, without really speaking.
Although the uniformity may not appear on the campuses anymore in their style, students remain consistent and individualistic in their style of dressing representing their illustrious HBCUs.