Fashion always front and center at FAMU

Photo courtesy: Ranyah McCloud

Fashion is a huge part of the culture at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

It isn’t just a custom. It’s a lifestyle that allows students to express their creativity
through clothing while on campus. Walking the campus grounds of Florida A&M
University can be like walking on a fashion runway.

Every day, depending on the occasion or their mood, students arrive dressed
professionally, with spirit, or in streetwear.

Because students come to school looking their best every day, it is easy for others to
adapt to the stylish culture at FAMU. Jaylin Poole is a third-year psychology transfer
student who loves dressing up.

“I would describe FAMU’s fashion culture as unique, fun, creative and different. I see a
variety of different styles when walking on campus. The school’s fashion culture
encourages me to step my fashion up and look the best that I can.”

Because of the way they dress, HBCU students are frequently viewed as "extra," yet
people who view them as so don't understand why these students carry themselves in
the manner they do.

“In the African-American experience, looking good has been and continues to be tied to
the politics of respectability,” HBCU historian Crystal deGregory wrote in an article for
the website “Historically, Black folk was told by racists that they were not
good enough. Wearing appropriate clothing, practicing good manners, and
demonstrating exceptional deportment were ways Black Americans demonstrated their
right to occupy places and spaces from which they were otherwise shut out because of
racism, Jim and Jane Crow and white supremacy.”

FAMU has worked hard to get where it is today, and it is important that its students do
their best when dressing up.

Jamyah Lawhorne, a first-year business administration student, says that HBCU
students have a standard to uphold when it comes to their appearance.

“What you may see at your typical PWI is not acceptable at your HBCU. I might be able
to wear my pajamas at a PWI but here at FAMU that is not acceptable. When you dress
up, it shows your status, you’re here, and that you are here to look your best.”

The culture of fashion is particularly significant at HBCUs. Students who attend
predominantly white institutions, however, do not truly get to experience this culture
because there is less pressure on them to come to school dressed up.

Delecia Campbell, a third-year psychology student at Florida State University, says the
culture of fashion at her school is different.

“Speaking from someone who attends a PWI, I can say that when it comes to getting
ready for school and dressing up, we hardly ever do it. Speaking for myself, I really only
do it at the beginning of the school year or when there is a big event going on. Other
than that FSU is very chill, big comfy clothes, you come to school relaxed in stuff you
wear around the house,” she said.

Fashion is something that will forever and always be part of the culture at HBCUs. It is
what sets HBCUs apart from other institutions and shows the world who HBCU students
are in a creative light.