The typical uniform of a St Andrews student is almost always sharp and well-crafted. In this town, students seem to have a classic look put together, made up of Barbour jackets and Hunter wellies with a casual scarf thrown over the shoulder or smart tortoise-shell glasses. As winter nears, the influx of these clothing items seem to increase tenfold, and I wonder if it really is an accurate representation of the fashion choices of our student body. Coming from a large public school in Northern Virginia, I had never seen anyone wear a Barbour jacket, let alone loafers to class. Now, I see it on a daily basis and am constantly reminded of the stark differences between a St Andrews student versus any other young adult at university.
Occasionally, I do glimpse a student who has decided to break the mold of the “Barbour jacket and wellies” look. I think it’s refreshing. While there is nothing wrong with a Barbour jacket (I think they are well-tailored and classic), there is no harm with branching out of the stereotype and just wearing what you want.
Winter fashion, and fashion in general, should not be defined by a single look. What winter fashion really means is to stay warm, and that means one thing: layering. Layering is an effective way to stay heated in the brisk Scottish weather, especially when the wind picks up or the weather can from 15 to 0 degrees in half an hour. “Since the weather here is really cold, I like to layer a lot, which is key. It’s definitely colder and windier here than where I’m from,” states Nicole Moshel, a first year from New York. As November and December approach, an abundance of overcoats, puffer jackets, gilets, hats, and scarves make a welcome appearance – it’s not just the Barbour jacket or Hunter wellies that dominate the scene.
For those of us that are sporty, the light blue Saint Sports jacket or a puffer coat is the jacket of choice, along with wearing athletic kit 24/7. Says 1st year Georgina Steel, a member of St Andrews’ first team for field hockey, “I normally wear big fuzzy fleeces to stay warm and a pom pom hat,” on a day to day basis, making it easy to transition from lectures to practice. Fleece jumpers by brands such as Patagonia, Columbia, and the North Face are a popular choice as the weather turns colder, as they provide comfort and coziness along with warmth. As a member of the rowing team here at St Andrews, I for one can vouch that they are a great choice to layer up in, especially if you plan on being outside for an extended period of time.
Like the infamous bobble hats that many a student dons in the brisk Scottish weather, the real stars of winter fashion here at St Andrews happen to be the accessories that complete an outfit. For St Andrews students, just because the temperature drops, it does not mean that the need for warmth will overtake the need to look presentable. Some popular items include wool tartan scarves, furry bobble hats, classic leather gloves, and cozy mittens.
Like many students here, first year Abigail Arthurson has become well-adapted to the weather, although most of us have only been here for a few months. She notes, “I love wearing wooly jumpers in various colors and matching hats, scarfs, and gloves. And admittedly yes, my Barbour jacket will often make an appearance. The weather here is definitely colder than Edinburgh I would say,” illustrating how cold-weather accessories are essential along with a jacket or jumper. Shoes are also important, and as silly as it seems, it is crucial to pick the right type of footwear to ensure that our feet stay warm. Along with the ever-present Hunter wellies are simple brown riding boots, suede ankle boots, and even the occasional L.L. Bean boot (which seems to be an American fashion choice). Most notably, all are worn with thick socks, to ensure maximum coziness in the chilly weather.
I can definitely say that it has been a big transition moving from Virginia to Scotland. I admit, it pains me a little to see my friends back home still in flip flops and the occasional sweatshirt. However, from what I’ve seen at St Andrews, no one sports cold weather gear as well as the students here. Every student is unique in their fashion choices to stay protected against the weather of the East Fife Coast, and as the seasons change, presentation is never traded off for practicality.