The time we lovingly call 'Frosh Week' is infamous not only for its bacchanalian festivities, but also for its free goodies. What’s most important aren’t the free Post-Its and pens from the activities fair (although swinging by events in Dillon Gymnasium will curtail your trips to the U-Store) or the obnoxiously orange, oversized T-shirts with the names of obscure organizations on them. Princeton’s residential college giveaways blow all that free crap out of the water.
For freshmen, residential college gear is the earliest opportunity to leave those embarrassing high school sweats behind. (Judging from the looks of it, every high school student council still seems be printing the same slogans on the back of Custom Ink Sport-Tek quarter zips.) Giveaways are a way for freshmen to look like Princetonians — albeit clearly underclassmen — without looking like their parents bought them their entire college wardrobe at the U-Store. For sophomores who can’t claim an eating club pinnie or hoodie as their own, it’s our opportunity to represent, for possibly the last year, our residential colleges.
Here’s my take on this year’s most noteworthy gear:
If I’m giving full disclosure, my rave review for Forbes might just be me rationalizing my draw pick into the Annex. Still, you know the gear’s good when groups of sophomores from other college wander over to our off-campus home for a sub-par weeknight dinner in hopes of snagging a few stray red crewnecks. While I don’t think I’ll walk into my econ midterm with a large red F plastered across me, Forbes’ unfortunate initial doesn’t detract too much from a style that’s classic, comfortable, and true to Forbes spirit. Side note: Last year’s “Forbes Marathon” tanks challenged Whitman’s “Party with Meg” gear in style points.
Whitman strengthens its vibe of exclusivity with a cardigan giveaway that looks like it’s from the pages of a Brooks Brothers catalogue. Its Facebook page celebrates the cardigan’s embodiment of “Ivy style,” as if trying to make Tommy Hilfiger sorry for shooting his fashion spread in up-campus territory last spring. While I love to hate Whitman for its hardwood floors, cute whale mascot and claim to late night dining hall snacks, I have to admit that this year’s giveaway is an adorable and creative departure from the overdone quarter zips which have become a dime a dozen on campus. Now that I’ve pretty much drooled all over Whitman, can I please get into College Night?
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Fashion Police, you know where I’m going with this. As a different fashion icon with the name Joan would say, “*i@$%, you stole my look!” I thought it impossible that Wilson’s sweatshirt could actually be that close to Whitman’s 2012 version, but when I asked a Wilson-ite during the first week of school, she proudly proclaimed that the font, style, colors and essentially the entire sweatshirt, were copied from Whitman’s design last year. Wilson, props for boldness, but the knockoff is never as good as the original — I’ll have to inflate the Whitman ego by wagging my finger at this style faux pas.
A few words on the others:
Like Rocky/Mathey itself, Rocky’s quarter zip is classic, and Mathey’s cute gray and purple hoodie fits in with its image as a little sister to Rocky. Timeless and safe picks.
A friend once told me of new residential college architecture, “Whitman’s trying to look like Rocky-Mathey. Butler’s ugly and we rock it.” Well, it seems that art mirrors art, as Butler’s hoodies might be a throwback to the early 2000s, just like its buildings. I’m guessing they don't get much use anyways in that mystical temperature-controlled kingdom.
So, underclassmen, it's time to set aside those Clash of the College T-shirts. But don’t even think about tossing free residential college giveaways into the back of the closet. I’ll let Joan Rivers decide which a cappella group has the best sweats this season.