Campus phenomena: barefooting and overalls


Kiki Brehmer, Staff Writer

Upon my arrival at campus last August, I consciously observed two trends in Westmont behavior: barefooting and overalls. To my surprise, they outlived the possibility of a micro-trend status; they have survived (and thrived) an entire year later. So, as an outsider to Santa Barbara style, I set out to discover a reason for the bare feet and overalls that I consistently see.

On warm days, it is not surprising to have encounters with the casual barefooter in various parts of campus. Confidently shoeless, they do pretty much anything that a person might do in their daily schedule, just barefoot. As a person whose hometown is sizzling Bakersfield, this lifestyle is a little bewildering to me. If I tried to join in on the barefooting back home, I would surely fry my soles as soon as I stepped onto the pavement. This brought a larger confirmation in my mind as to perhaps this was a piece of a circumstantial thing, maybe a trait born from coastal southern California that I can’t comprehend. 

I asked third-year art major and barefooter Jordan Cuskey of her opinion on barefooting. She mentioned, “I personally love being barefoot. For me at least it’s just a way to enjoy nature and I’m prone to forgetting my shoes so it’s a plus to not wear them at all.” Her points were enlightening; having bare feet is not strictly a local phenomenon. I perceive that without the barrier of a shoe, a person’s feet can more directly connect with the earth, and perhaps bring some satisfaction as Cuskey revealed. From my discoveries, the convenience, the California warm weather and culture and the linking with nature may have brought popularity to this deed.

Despite this, I doubt that I will be more than just a witness to barefooting. Often the dusty and muddy Westmont terrain brings my previously-clean feet a little closer to the earth than I would like when I wear sandals. Another reason why barefooting might be frowned upon by some could be that communal places like the library, bathrooms and dining hall are trod on by many a foot, and perhaps are not the cleanest surfaces. Third-year communications major and barefooting bystander Jenna Wheeler remarks that the probability of “foot fungus” averses her from the idea of barefooting in public. Although, she does confess that she “does not mind [if people go barefoot] in their own space.”

On the other hand, the fashion item overalls have taken flight among Westmonters. On an average day in chapel a simple attendee may see seas of overalls being worn on all types of students. The idea of overalls aren’t new, as they have existed for almost as long as blue jeans have been around. So this resurgence of overalls now is the reinstallation of a classic.

Although I do own a pair, it is to overall connoisseur and fourth-year liberal studies major Ella Quinney that I turn to. “They are one piece of clothing that you slip on . . . they are one item . . . and I think that wearing overalls invites people into a posture of oneness.” Because of the nature of the garment, Quinney notices how overalls can represent “unity” in our own lives. Perhaps people are drawn to this uniting aspect of overalls, and find joy in its straightforwardness. This is, in fact, one of my favorite reasons for wearing overalls, that their simplicity and comfortability allows them to be versatile — just a t-shirt underneath and I have a dynamic outfit.

Other than the merits of the overalls themselves, Ella Quinney suspects that the reason why people love to wear overalls on campus is quite meaningful, actually — “Westmont people want to be involved and a part of something that gives them just enough community and individuality.” By participating in the overall takeover, people don’t just get an outfit, they find that they are part of a whole. Wearing overalls is cool, and if a Westmont student can feel cool while also being validated collectively, that’s even better. This sentiment is heart-warming and also logical, when considering human nature and a human’s need to be part of a community. Although I don’t partake in the communal activity of overall-wearing, I do see its allure.

Barefooting and overalls are not so much about the acts themselves, but the meaning behind participating in them as a group.

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