From Formal to Fast Fashion: A Transition of Student Wear at LSU

Jensen Granier, Sean McGoey, and  Chazmine Gibson

One of the most distinguishable features of the earlier years at Louisiana State University is that the students wore very formal attire to school. This style was expected of youth and adults given by the societal views of the time and the cultural standards of dress put forth by the people of this age. This trend, however, has since lost popularity over time and has been replaced by very casual and relaxed alternatives. Men are no longer arriving to school in full suits and women are not excessively working on their hair. The new focus of fashion is to remain comfortable in the constantly changing Louisiana environment. Drastic change has been provoked by numerous other factors over the years, such as the Depression Era, Peace Movement, and youth rebellion. The scope of this analysis begins as early as the 1920s and examines the trends and changes that have occurred on campus up until the present day.

The mindset beginning in the 19th century was that there is a specific type of dress that is geared toward what you are doing and where the task is performed. Clothing during this time was expensive in the United States, which did not leave people with many options. A distinct collegiate style was present in that men and women were very militaristic in their dress. Through the depression in the 1930s, many people would not own a lot of clothing. Closets weren’t large enough to accommodate more than a few changes of clothes at best. It was not customary at this time for a mean to wear a purple or gold necktie, nor for women to wear a purple or gold dress.

military dress

In this image, we clearly see the military style dress that was present during this time period. Men were expected to dress and behave accordingly. Women were also expected to abide by the standards of dress which meant remaining well covered at all times. As per the student handbook, disciplinary action was to be taken by the school against any student that failed to meet the dress code requirements. This includes not being appropriately dressed for class, lunch, or leisure time. As more modifications happened to the standards of dress with each generation in the 1940s-1950s, hats and gloves slowly faded away.

relaxed style.jpg

In this image of the early 1960s, we can see a more relaxed style in young men and women. Normal dress has relaxed to a fairly formal level, as men were now wearing button downs and slacks. Women began to wear skirts along with their normal dresses and their hairstyles became very prioritized. The women in this image are even joined by one of the men.

women and men study together

In this image of the later 1960s, the transition towards casual dress has gained more momentum. The “youthquake” and peace movement of the 1960s sparked a large change in the fashion choices of students on campus. Traditions began to form on campus, such as men wearing slacks and a sports shirt with a tie to football games. Women followed suit dressing up for games, including panty hose and heels. The women would also wear fur coats, even if the weather was warm. The shift from the dressier trends on campus stems from a large desire of young people to differentiate from their parents. New styles developed around this time to distinctively separate age groups, including children, teens, young adults, and parents. President John F. Kennedy also shunned the use of hats and instead flashed his hair-do and smile. Women continued to wear hats, however they were smaller and more pill-box style. Large hats were avoided by women as to not harm their hair-dos. Through the 1970s-1980s, college sports became commercialized and the economic impact became much greater. This commercialization sparked people to start dressing like the ultimate fan, including face painting, school color representation, and an all out display of pride. By now, clothing had become much cheaper and more available. Traditions had also become deeply rooted on campus, in that fraternities insisted that their pledges and members continue to dress in a proper shirt and tie.

game day

This image of young men in the 1990s shows the new trend in fashion. Except for military members and people required by their position to wear their uniforms, formal wear has been completely erased at this point. Students began dressing for maximum comfort, including jeans and polos. This decade also saw the mainstream acceptance of tattoos and body piercings.

students today.jpg

From the 2000s onward, as seen above, there has been a large movement to express individuality. Many wild trends appeared then, including wearing neckties as belts and beaded chokers, headbands, and bracelets. Camouflage pants, fishnets, chunky highlights, and shiny clothing were also introduced in the early 2000s. Fashion has continued to evolve and diversify across the students on Louisiana State University’s campus. Numerous subcultures such as hip hop, skaters, country and alternative influence the way people choose to dress. Personal style and fashion has also begun to extend to the food students eat, the cars they drive, and the music they listen to. The current day and age is a time of individuality and freedom of expression. Comfort is the primary goal in the way students dress for school, which makes it largely dependent on the weather and time of year. However, this does not limit a student’s ability to express their own sense of fashion through hairstyling and accessories. Today, we are now seeing some of the most expressive clothing, hairstyling, and lifestyle options in human history.

Works Cited

Brasted, Chelsey and Emily Lane. “Fashion & Football: LSU fans’ wardrobes reflect 100 years of social change.” The Times-Picayune, 7 Nov. 2014,

Gumbo 1943. Louisiana State University, 1943. Print.

Gumbo 1962. Louisiana State University, 1962. Print.

Gumbo 1969. Louisiana State University, 1969. Print.

Gumbo 1976. Louisiana State University, 1976. Print.

Gumbo 1992. Louisiana State University, 1992. Print.