For years, Ole Miss students have prided themselves on being the “Harvard of the South,”or a notorious, big name school with even bigger annual traditions to live up to. But when you talk about Ole Miss and The Grove, there is no possible way to ignore the idea of Grove fashion as it presents itself in Oxford, Mississippi. For many students, Grove celebrations are their one time per week to show off their finest and most spirited Ole Miss clothing
Moving past the idea of fashion as solely being an accent to the weekly shenanigans of The Grove on game day, Jordan Wells, an Ole Miss student-member of the Black Fashion Society, has seen fashion as being limitless, yet an integral part of who she is. Wells’s outfits often, as she says, represent who she is and what she stands for, noting that someone’s first impression of you may very well rely on how you present yourself in terms of dress.
“I feel like clothes necessarily send a message to others before you even speak to them,” Wells said. “If they see that you’re dressed nice and that you have your jewelry put together—I assume all the time that that person has their life together, and I feel like thats a good first impression.”
Wells hasn’t come to realize this on her own, however. Wells attributes most of her viewpoints on fashion to her mother, who always encouraged her to dress up as a child and look nice. Now, as a college student, Wells sees overwhelming Ole Miss fashion trends as pressuring her to fit in.
“Coming to Ole Miss I was like, I would never wear that,” Wells said. “And then it’s like, now I need that. I need the flared jeans and like a cute red top for the game, and thats just something I never thought I would do before.”
Grove fashion aside, Wells felt pressured upon arriving in Oxford to conform to the daily style of leggings and an oversized t-shirt, solely because she felt like it would help her fit in with the people around her. After spending time focusing on what made her feel the most comfortable rather than conforming to a standard, Wells says her desire to dress up and embrace both casual and dramatic fashion contributes to who she is. Overall, she says it has contributed to the experience she’s gotten from Ole Miss, though it’s different from those of her high school friends.
Wells recalled a friend of hers attending a different college saying that she needed more than three outfits per day due to all of the events and activities at her school which required different styles of dress. In shock at the idea that students on other college campuses embrace the limitless combinations of outfits on a daily basis, Wells looked for a way she could do the same in Oxford.
“Ole Miss doesn’t have a place for people to showcase their style necessarily, because there’s so many different styles,” Wells said. “I want to bring something to campus that could showcase how many different styles there are.”
And that’s when Wells realized the Black Fashion Society could give her a platform, as well as like-minded individuals with similar intentions, to bring her vision to life.
Wells has been inspired by the Black Fashion Society’s initiative to bring out the confident side in its members. Specifically, she recalled being in awe of the change in fashion taste of her close friend and another member of the Black Fashion Society, Marcus, after a life-changing trip to Paris, France.
“What took place in Paris for [him] to change [his] whole perspective on life,” Wells said.
While the idea of fashion seems surface level, Wells recognizes that fashion is all about perspective and embodying how everybody is different. When asked what single word she would use to describe the individuals, as well as her experience, in the Black Fashion Society, Wells said the best word would be ‘unique.’
“I don’t think it’s one person in Black Fashion Society that has the same taste as the other person, so it really just brings us all together because we have all these different personalities and styles,” Wells said, “So, we just come together as one, and it’s kind of unique to see that because usually when people are different from you, you’re not bound to come together with them.”
While Wells acknowledges that Ole Miss has given her a new platform, she attributes much of her connections with people and helping people to the Black Fashion Society and its inclusion and diversity.
“We have people of other races in [the Black Fashion Society],” Wells said. “And its just so cool to see where they came from and how their fashion has changed.
Though she initially felt pressured and limited when it came to finding her sense of fashion, Wells realized that Ole Miss has shown her just how vast and versatile fashion can be, even if the male students do stick to khakis and an Ole Miss polo shirt.