A friend of mine once told me there is no such thing as being overdressed, just having a lack of confidence. When deciding what works for an evening out on the town, this is solid advice.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it…
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being a follower. Never, ever change your fashion in order to fit in. How we dress is a bold statement of who we are; change it to match everyone else and you become indistinguishable against the masses. This should not be 1984.
You’re preparing for your first night out and you have a sequinned black dress you are dying to wear. But you realise that your roommate and your neighbours are all going for a more relaxed look of jeans and a nice top. You feel out of place, and maybe you’ll put the dress away for another night.
Hold it right there, fresher. You bought that dress for a reason, so wear it. St Andrews is truly one of the few places where you can dress however you like.
In the morning after meeting several people, no one will recall the names of those who dressed the same. However: “The girl in the black dress? Yeah, I remember her.” Because you stood out. It’s an instant friend-maker, or at least helps get past the awkward “Hi, erm, I know I spoke to you last night but I’ve forgotten your name”.
It is also very easy to lose track of yourself in university. It happens little by little, maybe starting with wearing what everyone else is wearing, next saying what they’re all saying. I realise that sounds a little ominous – it’s not an inevitability. But being away from home for so long, it’s not surprising some lose their way. So, stick to your guns. I may not agree with your fashion choice but at least it’s yours to make. By all means, embrace your sense of style as it changes, as it is bound to throughout your life. But it must always be your decision and not a result of peer pressure.
What to pack…
Our humble town is no Liverpool or London, which may disappoint the hardcore partiers. St Andrews sports a grand total of one night club, if you can call it that. The Lizard is an experience like no other, and you only end up there at the end of the night after a few too many Pablos. Nobody dares to venture in sober. Instead, we have a wide array of pubs and bars and of course, the Union.
So tailor your choices to your setting. Think more cocktail dresses and party blouses than a crop top and a mini bodycon. The latter have their place, though not in my St Andrews wardrobe. If you’re keen to dress up and go clubbing city-style, then I would recommend a trip across the Tay to Dundee, the destination of many excitement-seeking St Andreans.
For the ladies, your choice of dress depends purely on your personal style and body shape. I’ll be sure to write a piece on this in the future, but for now I’ll offer some age old advice: Never do both chest and legs. A mini dress will necessitate limiting the amount of cleavage on show. Similarly, a longer dress allows for the potential of a plunging neckline. The reasoning behind this philosophy is simple – always leave something to the imagination. Too little fabric also feels wrong, as though you found something in the back of your wardrobe that doesn’t really fit but you decided to squeeze into it anyway.
It almost goes without saying to avoid the unholy trinity of bare chest, tummy and legs. At that point, why not just wear a bikini? (Answer: It’s absolutely freezing up here.)
Let’s talk outerwear…
If there’s one person who’s had more coat-related arguments with her mother than she’s had hot dinners, it’s me. I accept that this is a battle now lost on my part. But if you simply cannot bear to taint your outfit with a large puffer coat, then allow me to introduce you to my best friend: cashmere.
Admittedly, it’s a little way out of a student budget but, my God, is it worth it. Invest in a black cashmere cardigan and never shiver again. It looks thin but it keeps you warm and buying black means it will go with practically anything. My little cashmere has spared me many nights of coat carrying and flu catching.
So there you have it. I like to think we’re a non-judgemental town, though I may be naïve in that. Fashion is something we excel at every day. There is a variety in our dress sense, and we’re proud of our individuality. Presentation may be key, but so is feeling good. To that end, wear what suits you and strut like you’re on one of our many catwalks every single night.
Photos: University of St Andrews, Lightbox Creative, Tatler