The seniors have spoken: Here’s what to wear to Green Key
After years without the event, students must defer to the ’22s on style, fashion and expectations.
With tulips blooming along Occom Pond and masses of students flocking to the river, a long-awaited spring has officially arrived in New Hampshire. The exciting promise of Green Key has created a tangible anticipation that lingers in the air, but one persisting question remains: What do I wear?
Because of COVID-19, the seniors are the only class to have experienced Green Key, leading to uncertainty about the event — and, more specifically, its fashion. As one friend asked, “Am I dressing for a full-blown music festival or a typical Dartmouth Friday night?”
With the promise of thousands of photos, posts and stories, no one wants to be left looking under or overdressed. The broad nature of popular festival clothes has generated so many options for students that many find themselves at a loss of what to wear. There is no shortage of inspiration given the myriad of Coachella Instagram posts, but the unknown nature of Green Key among most students has bred hesitancy.
Some seniors reflected on memories from 2019 and made predictions for this year to create recommendations for the many first-timers. Overall, outfits worn during Green Key seem to resemble typical spring and summer clothing, with a hint of the quintessential Dartmouth flair. Clarke Eastman-Pinto ’22 described past Green Key fashion as classic “festival” style, but highlighted that the welcomed warm weather influences outfit choices.
“[In 2019], there were lots of bandanas, cheap sunglasses and, obviously, not a pair of pants in sight,” Eastman-Pinto said. “A lot of guys wore button-downs, short sleeved t-shirts and jerseys. For girls, there were a lot of sundresses. I’d recommend anything that can be worn outside and in really high heat for a long period of time.”
Amrita Misha ’22 also compared Green Key fashion to festival style, noting the popularity of more bohemian outfit choices — such as those at Coachella a few years ago.
“There were a lot of shorts and flowy skirts,” Misha said, “[Green Key fashion] is not quite like Coachella style nowadays, but more like Coachella style in 2016. More laid back.”
Dressing for the weather and remaining conscientious of cost, Misha said she intends to opt for shorts instead of skirts and draw from her own closet as opposed to buying new clothing. She emphasized the importance of balancing style with practicality.
“I would probably want to wear skirts because I think they’re cuter, but I honestly prefer comfort over fashion, [especially] because [Green Key is] very active,” Misha said.
Similarly, Shera Bhala ’22 recommended clothing suited both for movement and spring weather conditions.
“Just be comfortable,” Bhala said. “Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty because it can be muddy. You’ll probably be dancing, especially at the concerts. You don’t want to be wearing super fussy clothes.”
Among the seniors, there was a consensus on a few common style trends that are expected to return, such as floral patterns and matching sets. Bhala also explained that rompers were popular amongst women, while many men wore Hawaiian shirts and button-downs. Though Bhala believes these themes will remain prevalent, some newer trends that evolved over the past three years may also surface.
“I think florals will still be big,” Bhala said, “But I’m anticipating there will also be corset style tops and maybe some off-the-shoulder tops.”
Given the different events hosted by Greek organizations during Green Key weekend, Bhala predicts that students will adhere to one style, albeit with some space for variation. Both Misha and Bhala described Friday’s block party at Phi Delta Alpha fraternity as demanding slightly more casual, daytime outfits to match the venue.
“I would say the style will be pretty consistent throughout the week,” Bhala said.“Obviously, if you have certain themed events, you would follow along with that. There will be more dresses and floral skirts on Friday for the block party.”
On top of the Green Key celebrations, students are inevitably balancing classes and academic responsibilities during Week 8. Because of the hectic reality of Green Key, Eastman-Pinto advises planning your outfits ahead. By Saturday, assembling a sensible outfit from scratch might feel difficult.
“Most people plan outfits for the three days, roughly. But by the third day, things get a little bit sloppy,” Eastman-Pinto said. “You wake up on Green Key Saturday, you throw on whatever you laid out for yourself, but it might not be as put together as Wednesday or Thursday.”
Despite the seniors’ predictions, one question remains: Will this year’s Green Key — defined by a two-year hiatus that precedes it — look different than previous ones? Misha expressed skepticism as to how Green Key style — and the event itself — will unfold.
“The seniors are the only grade that knows anything about Green Key, fashion included,” Misha said. “But honestly, we were freshmen at the last one. We were just taken along for the ride. I’m interested to see how this year will play out because I feel like everyone's just faking their way through.”
On the other hand, Eastman-Pinto said he has faith in the ultimate endurance of Dartmouth tradition and predicts that Green Key style will remain similar to previous years. He also cited flair as an important part of campus style culture that will undoubtedly influence Green Key fashion.
“For better or for worse, the culture of Green Key has sustained itself just by its mythos,” Eastman-Pinto said. “Especially since a lot of alums are coming back, I think [Green Key] will probably look identical, if not even more ridiculous, than previous years. It was such a fun time and I think it could be even one notch higher this weekend.”
Shera Bhala ’22 is a former Arts editor of The Dartmouth.