College, a notorious experience of renewed self -expression. A time to feel your most authentic self and
to decorate not only your wardrobe but also your newly entitled freedom. When phrases such as
expression, authenticity and personality are bashed around, style is the word synonymous with them all –
in all its nuances. At the sweet age of our late teens, when we venture out to start a new, college can be a
desperate welcoming for an array of reasons, but for some, where my heart lies, is the idea of being free to
dress every single day as your soul desires. When we first arrive at College, we may have notions that we
are paving our way on this wonderful path where individual style is a golden thread tying us together.
Finally, we can all utilise this freedom by wearing what was so forbidden for so long.
However, being stylish, being authentic to yourself as well as being comfortable are all tasks that
sometimes we need to combat when we enter vicinities such as intimidating lecture rooms, uncomely
dorm rooms and the realisation you don’t have an iron to make sure your shirt pristine. I think
developing a sense of style and entering college are wonderful inexplicable things that doesn’t always
come as easy as a monochrome outfit.
I soon realised we may have been fooled by the Serenas, Blairs and the entire cast of Pretty Little Liars.
Personally, at 5’4, flats have never really been able to entice me, until my third year of university, where I
finally gave in to comfortability over feeling conspicuous. It has left me admiring young professionals on
Henry street with a sense of kindred empathy that we will continue to wear the silk slip but paired with a
more pragmatic shoe. We can repel the notion of conforming to practical ideals over style, but we can
also learn to weave in a sense of our sartorial gene into the everyday. For me I would never have
predicted blue denim jeans and white trainers would eventually become my staple – in saying that pearl
earrings will always be present.
We may all have an idea of how we like to dress, hey, some of you may have even harnessed your sense
of individual style before you could verbally describe it. However, the conformity of a pleated skirt, shirt
and a rigid tie in some ways relaxed our minds to the idea of analysing and deciphering our outfits daily.
It wasn’t long until I noticed people were opting for free-flowing patterned trousers – in what seemed like
a mercy buy. The outfits are numerous and there is no doubt we must think a little harder. College offers
you such an opportunity to enhance your style and see what you gravitate towards. As a college newbie,
you were an Annie Parker enthusiast, with miniskirts and utilised box bags as your ally but by the final
year a bona fide Edie Sedgwick with high octane earrings and leopard print coats may be your kryptonite.
College fashion goes further than just choosing what you dress yourself in. For those of us who have
packed up our boxes and sat debilitatingly for four hours on a bus listening to Stevie Knick’s Gypsy on
repeat – we get the sceptical luxury of decorating ‘this new venture’ – we bring candles, cushions and all
hail the much-loved fairy lights. We get to see how we make our tea, what we are willing to eat every
day, how often we renew our sheets and ultimately, plant the seeds for how we choose to decorate our life
outside the realms of our parents.
College can be a great home to emotional instability – we can feel our lowest lows and our highest highs.
So, fashion, if I may say so myself, can offer an envelope of control, we can be creative and be physically
comfortable as well as feeling safe in our sartorial authenticity. So, any tips or tricks will always be
welcome – a warm insulating turtle neck, a well fitted pair of jeans, slip on loafers and a mass of layering
apparel is always helpful. Refrain from allowing the treacherous commute or the unearthly cold air of the
lecture rooms determine your sartorial choices. Instead utilise this challenge by enhancing your styling
As the virtuous Olivia Palermo praises – jewellery is a fabulous way to ignite your sense of style. Open
your mind to fedora and cap hats, bandanas and bangles – even a great bag can preach style credit. If
you’re a bona fide jeans and t-shirt devotee but are still eager to enhance your look, try a slim chain belt
or an embroidery lace one.
On reflection, bask in the freedom of dressing how you truly desire to. Pinterest and YouTube are
amazing motivators to truly start thinking about what you can wear to college. Combat the pressure of
dressing similar and let the reason for your lateness be that you couldn’t decide between teal and cerulean.
Delve deep into how your sartorial gene speaks to you and learn to accommodate it into your 9 am
lecture, so you will have comfort in knowing your staying true to yourself in Docs on a day when
uncertainty may be more prominent. After all, dressing is an art form that brings calmness to the mind,
offering itself to an audience of one.
By Leah Elner