It’s everywhere. It can be worn in any season. Anyone can pull it off. No, not it’s not underwear.... It’s the ubiquitous Duke gear (although, come to think of it, probably true for underwear too).
Collegiate clothing is some of the most unfashionable apparel I’ve ever laid eyes on (and yes, worn), but it does do what every designer these days dreams of their styles doing: Duke gear is the ultimate transitional clothing. It goes from morning to meeting, from lunch to library, from plaza to party and from studying to sleep. It reminds you where you are and where you belong.
Not surprisingly, you can walk through Perkins and Bostock and find plenty of studious Blue Devils snuggled up in a Duke hoodie or relaxing in some comfy sweatpants (and in Lilly too—obvi, freshmen are rocking their Duke gear hardcore). What’s so ridiculous, in the good way, about our clothing, is that it makes appearances in the most unexpected facets of Duke life. Oh, the party is themed “repping your city?” Technically, I live in Durham, so I’ll wear my Duke stuff. Wait, we have to dress up as a member of our favorite sports team? I freakin’ love Duke football! Are you guys going to the thug life party? Good thing I have over-sized Duke basketball shorts.
Duke gear travels to frat sections. It has been to Devine’s. It has even braved Shooters. And with the new School House clothing line (read: trendy, chic, eco-something and designed by a Duke grad), it might even make it to the runway. This flexibility both facilitates our laziness and puts some much-needed mystery into our lives. When someone steps out for class in their t-shirt and Duke shorts, people can’t be sure if that same outfit made an appearance at the rager last night, if an alarm didn’t go off and the “clothes” are actually pajamas, or if that person just has a lot of school spirit.
No matter the context, Blue Devil pride is always a good thing. Our dedication to this University has made our colors immediately recognizable and has created an association with greatness. But, what’s with the new rainbow of T-shirts? Last time I checked, (which was about 10 seconds ago just to be extra sure), our school colors are still officially white and Duke blue. There is no mention of any neons on Wikipedia—and Wikipedia would know if there had been a change.
As far as I know, Sweet Briar College and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority are the only institutions/organizations that actually have a legitimate reason for sporting hot pink and lime green. And though it’s nice to stand out, what about when you decide to support your team at a sporting event in your new blindingly bright shirt? Those at home watching the Cameron Crazies will only be able to think, “Who is that Care Bear in the middle?” Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pink-green combo, but I wouldn’t be silly enough to wear it in Cameron.
Do you buy the adorable designs and cutesy colors to be trendy? Who decided the word Duke would for some reason look better in polka dots anyway? Guys, it’s still a sweatshirt! It can’t be trendy—it is a shapeless piece of cotton. And just because the sweatpants are brightly colored does not mean they no longer make your butt look flat. Own them, wear them, whatever, but don’t be fooled into thinking they are any more stylish than the blue, white, gray and navy versions.
In addition to absurd colors and stylized scripts, it seems the Duke Store has over the last few years expanded the types of products it offers. Gear no longer just includes the typical hat, T-shirt and sweatshirt. These days you can dress your baby for all occasions, support your team in the office and pretty much have the Duke logo surrounding you at all times (literally, they make clocks). It is heartwarming to think that people constantly want to be reminded of and let others know about their university, but are Duke shower shoes really necessary to do that? I don’t need a Duke flip-flop to help me remember where I am bathing: The hair in the drain and the terrible water pressure are pretty good signals. And by printing Blue Devils on boxers, Duke has even expanded their ad space to men’s rears. Like I said, it’s everywhere.
I wear my fair share of unflattering athletic apparel, but I don’t pretend to be at the height of fashion. You may be repping Duke by name with your fancy clothes, but in the crowd you just look like you’re at the wrong school. Save the turquoise for a Jacksonville Jaguars game. You knew what Duke’s colors were before you got here so just accept the neutrals. And if you really need to have Duke close to your heart at every second, get a sick chest tat. Just please not in pink.
Anna Sadler is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs every other Tuesday.
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