Avant Garb Mag interviewed Harrison Dunne-Polite ’19 who shared about his family’s influence, fashion as self care, and how getting roasted by friends has shaped his style.
Interview by Abby Kelly.
AK: What’s in your closet?
HDP: A lot of dress shirts, casual shirts, polos. I like button ups a lot because I like things with sleeves, but also things I can easily roll up because I’m kind of lanky so I have to read the situation during the day so I look coordinated. My favorite button down is this one. I really like forest green, dark green, the color of envy. It’s my favorite color. I worked in an office this summer so I have all these shirts. I also went to prep school so I have a lot of button downs. There’s a couple that I really like, like these pink shirts.
AK: Tell me about your style.
HDP: Growing up, my mom bought all my clothes and she dressed me. I don’t even know how to explain it. She just threw me in things that she thought were cute. She had this idea and it worked when I was really young because I was this little chubby cheek little happy boy, but she kind of kept that idea for a little bit too long. And it’s not even like we would go shopping together, she would just kind of buy me clothes and be like, “here, this is what you have to wear now.” Then I went to prep school and a lot of those clothes started to become preppy: a lot more button downs and ties, blazers. At prep school, I met new friends who would be like, “nah bro, you can’t wear that” or “you can’t wear this” or “you have to wear this.” These aren’t anything special, but these joggers for example, one of my friends was like, “nah we’ve got to put you on some Harlem swag,” so he brought me home and he made me dress like him. I don’t dress like him fully but because of that you have little things that you incorporate. My mom would never have bought me these [joggers]. But I mix these with things that she does buy me, so I have a lot of sweaters I mix things together like that, or I’ll have like Vineyard Vines and Dickeys on or something like that. So that’s another thing, my mom loves themed stuff, my mom’s side of the family. And I’m thankful for my dad’s side of the family because they buy me normal clothes.
AK: Did your style change when you came to Bowdoin?
HDP: Yes. I didn’t mention this, but my prep school-- the first one I got into-- was basically business casual. You couldn’t wear jeans but you could wear just a polo shirt and nothing had to be tucked in. The second school I went to, which I went to for three years, was coat and tie every day. No sneakers or any of that. It changed when I got here because when I was there, all I needed was button down shirts. I never had use for a t-shirt. All I had was like three polo’s and that was our casual shirts that we would wear. Then I came here and people could just wear whatever they wanted and I looked like a hardo if I came to class every day in a coat and tie, so there was a transitional period where I was trying to figure out what to wear. Sophomore year I had these terrible green Packers sweatpants for some reason. I would wear them with like a purple sweatshirt though. Now they’re locked away.
AK: What factors inform your daily outfit choices? What would you wear to class as opposed to parties as opposed to something else.
HDP: My schedule actually. Usually I try to exercise in the morning to stay sane, some sort of physical movement because I’m a humanities major so all I do is read books and it drives me crazy, so it depends. Usually I like to work out in the morning because once I work out and get all of my stuff done, I feel like I can dress nice where I can just relax until it’s time to go to sleep. Otherwise, I think this year particularly I’ve been trying to dress nicer because I see it as something that is psychologically healthy, to take care of yourself. It’s like a different type of skin care or hair care, but as I mentioned before the whole lanky thing, I always try to have sleeves on either my legs or my arms. So shorts with long sleeves or pants and then, usually just sleeveless or a button down with the half roll.
AK: How has your style changed over time?
HDP: Honestly, just getting roasted. I don’t like to be like other people because I’m not like other people in a lot of ways, so I enjoy coming up with my own outfit. It’s a different way of thinking for yourself. Finding that balance between thinking for yourself, like I am unique, and also all your boys are like “bring that ass here boy, what are you wearing,” like that kind of thing.
AK: Tell me about your prized possession.
HDP: This is my prized possession: it’s a Polo coat. I’m proud of this because I worked hard this summer and I usually don’t buy expensive clothing. I kind of refrain from that, like when I would buy basketball shoes I would get the discount ones. But as I said, I’ve been trying to take it a little bit more serious this year, so I was like alright, I’ll try to get some higher quality stuff that will probably last me longer that I care about more as well, so I got this. It’s nice, it’s my favorite color. It’s nice to have something that you purchased that’s kind of boujee and expensive. Oh, also, that Drake song where he’s like “I could let you check the tag now, I’m rocking name brand.” When I bought this, I mumbled that to myself, the cashier was like “what?” and I was like “nothing. Thank you!”
AK: What item has a special meaning or story?
HDP: I get a lot of clothes. I guess one thing that’s hard about style is that when you accept a lot of your clothes as gifts, it’s not like people are coordinating based on your wardrobe, so they aren’t like “oh, Harrison has a bunch of black pants so let me get him other stuff.” The other thing about that is it becomes difficult because I don’t like to get rid of stuff because it has sentiment and value, like this sweater I think is ugly but my aunt gave it to me. I just have difficulty getting rid of it because I know that she was like “Oh Harrison will like this!” And she was wrong, but you know people try for you. It’s like, you know, there’s additional value to it.
AK: What about shoes?
HDP: Alright, let’s talk about shoes. I worked in a corporate office this summer. I thought “I’m getting older, it’s time to step my game up a little bit.” I tried not to wear sneakers too much. I’ve been experimenting with rolling my pants a little bit. I really like converse. Mostly because they’re comfortable, I’ve been trying to move away from sneakers. I work out in these. My mom bought me these in high school and then I brought them here and then Abby Kelly one day pointed to my shoes in class and said “when you have class at 3, but clown school at 4” and I was like, that’s mad funny, so I started to work out in them because they just got me roasted everywhere I went. And then funny enough, when I started working out in them, all of a sudden people thought they were sick. They were like “those are dope shoes.” Yeah but I don’t really wear these around. And of course, Maine. Bean boots.
AK: Why is style important to your identity?
HDP: Because it gives you a chance to, as I said before, think for yourself. The most important thing about your identity is not what categories you fit into or what you can connect to. The foundational, most important thing is your understanding of who you are removed from everything else in the world. Removed from, again, what you belong to or where you’re at, who you are. I think style becomes important because its little choices you get to make about yourself, for yourself, by yourself for various reasons.
AK: Should fashion be discussed, and if so, why?
HDP: I think so, yeah. Because, again, it’s like these little decisions that reflect something that meant something to you. Fashion should be discussed because it’s a different avenue in which people can get to know themselves and others.