Culottes on campus?

Fashion mistakes are a rite of passage—let’s celebrate them.


I recently read a Vanity Fair article about Barack Obama’s time as an early ’80s Columbia undergraduate and his life in Manhattan immediately thereafter. I can’t remember much about the actual piece, but I do have a very clear image of a full-page photograph on the right-hand side of the first spread, depicting the future 44th president of the United States in full-blown ’80s attire: leather bomber jacket, heavy flannel shirt, white tennis shoes, and, worst of all, a pair of stonewashed tapered jeans. Not good tapered, like today’s skinny jeans, but bad tapered, where the jean bottoms bunch up over the sneakers.

Now, Obama didn’t choose to have his ex-girlfriend send photos to a national magazine, but we are asking readers of the Core to voluntarily toss aside their pride and send us their fashion-victim moments as UChicago undergrads. I’ve been combing through old Maroons for research, so I know that mistakes have been made: some Coke-bottle glasses here, a few jean jackets there, a whole bunch of ’50s-era male students who really liked hair gel.

My colleague Benjamin Recchie, AB’03, wore pulled-up tube socks with shorts as a College student. Actually, he still does, and insists that there’s nothing wrong with it. But if you can see the error of your ways—as well as the fun in sharing your folly with others—please send your style story by June 12 to with “UChicago Style” in the subject line. Photographic evidence is welcome. Selected submissions will appear in the July–August issue of the Core.

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