“So Why the Suit?” A Student Who Found Confidence In Daily Professional Wear

Birkenstocks, Uggs, hoodies, and sweatpants have all but taken over student attire by this time of year. But not everyone has succumbed to the comfy clothes epidemic. Standing proud is a polished, suit-wearing anomaly. Meet Sam Byrne (’27), a freshman who treats every day like it is presentation day when it comes to dress.

The Michigan native out of Bloomfield Township is a first year student at Hope seeking a degree in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies and minor in Political Science. Though his studies have an emphasis on the political sector, the inspiration behind Byrne’s choice of attire comes from before his major was decided. When asked how this everyday sophisticated style came about, Sam cites a fateful day in the spring of his seventh grade year that changed it all. “Our school was set to have a pajama day,” said Byrne. “I just didn’t feel like wearing PJs to school that day. So I decided you know what? Let’s be different. I’ll wear a suit, why not? And then it just kind of stuck since then”.

But it is not just the random inclination to dress differently that has impacted Byrne’s style choice. He also believes there is a connection between a person’s attire and their performance in educational settings. “There’s research that shows that on a test day, you score higher if you’re dressed better,” said Byrne. But what constitutes “better?” Byrne believes dressing well looks different for everyone: “Wear what you’re comfortable with,” he said. Though sweats may be more physically comfortable for him, the suits provide a sense of mental comfortability as he takes on his Political Science and Education classes.

Byrne at his National Junior Honor Society Induction, the end of his 7th grade year (Photo source: Sam Byrne)

Many times, comfortability level or dress expectations can be linked to how someone was raised. The way a person’s  parents dressed or the norms they taught to their children continue to affect them as they grow up. Byrne, however, does not “think that [he] was raised in a way that necessarily led to going professional every day, it was more of a personal choice that became a habit.” He plans to continue dressing this way when he teaches high school history.”

Another factor that has played into Byrne’s respect for professional dress is the impact he has seen it have on people’s perception of him. “I definitely would say that wearing a suit has had a positive impact on opportunities. I think that people take me more seriously.”  Because professional wear on a day-to-day basis is abnormal for most undergraduate students, his choice of attire is able to strengthen Bryne’s personal brand, making him more memorable and respected by peers and authorities. Bryne also noted the impact his style has had on his personal confidence. 

Whether a person chooses to wear a pair of Uggs, painted overalls, suits, or some combination of the three (which would make for a very interesting outfit!), everyone should strive to dress in a way that they feel expresses who they are and allows for a greater sense of confidence. “That really for me is the biggest thing,” Byrne stressed. “[My clothes] make me feel comfortable day to day and I think [are] a good way to express my personality.” 

Byrne’s story serves as a testament of someone who branched out and tried something new, and gained confidence in doing so. Life is too short to not wear your personality on your sleeve.

(Featured image source: Macy Granville)

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