All girls in St Andrews know the reality of clothes shopping in the town. High street brands dominate and make us all look like clones.
Shops will stock clothes that they think will sell well. You’d think that, in a town with such a large student population, that these would be clothes designed, priced and marketed to students. In practice, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Trying to find a party dress in New Look is futile. Most of their stock seems to be aimed at pre-pubescent girls. In my opinion the choice at H&M is only slightly better, but the sad truth remains that whenever you buy a dress you always have to be wary that your friend probably bought the same one last week.
To actually find decent clothes in St Andrews, you need to forget about the chains and focus instead on the plethora of charity shops that our humble little town offers. Having volunteered in one myself, I’ve seen first-hand the treasures that are available. All it requires is a little patience and a keen eye. If this year’s CATWALK is anything to go by, the charity shops of St Andrews have a huge amount to offer, if you can be bothered to find it.
Also worth checking out are the vintage fairs that come to St Andrews about twice a semester from Dundee. Normally entrance is only one pound and for this you get
access to a variety of stalls. There’s a delightfully friendly atmosphere, a much more rewarding experience than the blandness of H&M.
In a town like St Andrews, the internet is a girl’s best friend. The online shopping behemoth ASOS offers one year’s unlimited next-day delivery for only £9.95, an absolute steal if you are a keen shopper in desperate need of your heroin-style fix. Even the super saver delivery (which is free – Topshop take note) normally only takes three days to arrive, and all returns are, of course, free. The customer service is second to none, including a commitment to answer all queries within four hours.
The online world extends far beyond ASOS, ranging from homemade fashion (Etsy) to high-end couture (Net-A-Porter). It is simply foolish to attribute the recent financial performance of international fashion retailers to how their shops in a small Scottish town are perceived by students, but it does not come as a surprise that whilst sales at H&M and New Look are flatlining or even falling, ASOS reported a 38% rise in total sales its last financial year.
The internet massively widens our self-contained bubble and is certainly one solution to our dilemma. And if your internet cuts out, don’t panic – Dundee is only a bus ride away.