Carmel, New York is a town few are familiar with. Whenever I mention to someone in the New Paltz community that I have lived there for most of my life, I am usually met by looks of confusion. Quite admittedly, there is nothing all that remarkable about Carmel; there are few attractions to visit over the weekend besides the local movie theater and a Spinz bowling alley right across from the Tops supermarket plaza. It is a very tight-knit community, one where you are highly likely to bump into someone you know in the local ShopRite.
Equally drab were the outfits worn by residents of my hometown. I rarely thought to myself that someone was wearing an exceptionally impressive outfit. In high school, the football team donned baggy shorts and a plain t-shirt with some sort of sports-insignia etched onto it. Cotton shirts and blue jeans also seemed like a popular duo, plus the dominantly worn, yet less-sighted, plaid button-downs.
Personally, I never viewed myself as someone who particularly cared about attire. Usually, I would groggily get up at 5:30 a.m., go on my phone to check any unread messages, eat whatever I felt like having for breakfast at such an ungodly hour and haphazardly throw on whatever I found first in my dresser. I would then hop in my car, drive to school, and notice that I was not the only one that morning who strung an outfit together at the last minute.
Prior to the start of the fall semester, I followed the @sunynewpaltz2026 account on Instagram, in which incoming first-year students would have the chance to introduce themselves and get to know each other. Commonalities flourished throughout each person’s bio; I noticed many enjoyed shopping, watching movies and listening to the same artists. For me, however, the most interesting hobby listed frequently was thrifting.
As someone who never truly participated in this hobby, nor knew anyone who actively went thrifting for clothes, this was a huge shift in dynamic compared to the hobbies my friends and I were involved in. Fashion was never exactly my forté; the “fanciest” article of clothing I ever wore in school was a nice V-neck with a chest pocket. I was very indifferent about what I wore, only aspiring to look “presentable” at the very least.
I would say the one time where I broke this philosophy was at my senior ball last June, when I wore a flannel suit. The idea of wearing this breathtakingly pompous outfit spawned during class a month prior to the event, when I noticed it on an online advertisement. I forked over the $100 it cost, and it arrived at my doorstep a week later. I boldly sported this red-and-white emblazoned suit while all the other guys wore the same basic dress attire. Instead of feeling awkward about being overdressed, I felt extremely confident that night. I felt a deep sense of pride for wanting to try something new and wearing something as flashy as the flannel suit.
When the first week of classes arrived here on campus, I immediately noticed a greater assortment of outfits than I ever did at high school. Students seemed to dress in a more expressive manner, appearing more comfortable wearing something other than the typical hoodie/sweatpants combo synonymous with Northeastern fall weather. Yes, those clothes are still present, but it was awesome to see so many other styles populate the SUNY New Paltz campus.
One person’s style who I am especially envious of is Nate Sulin’s, a first-year student majoring in general business, who goes by they/he pronouns. Like many said in their @sunynewpaltz2026 posts, Sulin usually gets his clothes from local flea markets and popular thrift stores in the city, particularly L Train Vintage and Buffalo Exchange. Sulin does not stick to a certain style, but usually wears something influenced by the queer community as he does not see gender in clothing.
Whenever I see one of Sulin’s outfits on their socials or in-person, it is quite clear that they put a ton of effort and time into what they wear. When I talked to them about this topic, Sulin said that, “Every morning it would take [them] 30 minutes or an hour to pick what clothes [they] should wear, including shoes.” With how expressive a lot of the SUNY New Paltz community dress, I imagine these students spend that much dedication to create wonderfully stylized outfits as well.
With how well-dressed a lot of our student body is, it has made me more conscientious about what I wear. Seeing so many people dress in such an expressive manner on campus has made me want to discover different outfit possibilities, rekindle that sense of glee I felt when I wore my flannel suit. Fashion is undoubtedly a fantastic way to boost one’s confidence and I can see why there are so many in our student body who dress so nicely on a consistent basis.