Move Aside, Kate Middleton - You're Not The Only One Who Needs A Stylist
In the same town that the royal, rich and seagull have graced, lies a community of students drowning in their studies, desperately trying to measure up to the high standards and esteemed reputation that our red-gowned predecessors have set. Alongside such standards come the countless traditions we practice and unspoken rules we must follow— undoubtedly the hardest part of university is surviving Raisin. Many of the unspoken (and spoken) rules of our town such as no Shawarma before 10 pm or avoiding the cursed PH are second nature to us by now, however, the task of surviving the daily catwalk of St Andrews is not. While in the US (unofficial colonizer of St Andrews), university students barely have to throw on a hoodie before barreling over to their tutorials, the students here have a more eloquent and necessary duty to the quality of appearance. And as evidenced by the three hundred desperate Instagram posts made to boost dying ticket sales, there are plenty of “legitimate” fashion shows to attend (or model for) in this town, but we all know the real défilé de mode happens every day right in St Andrews itself.
Hungover, violently sick and so disgusting, your mirror is repulsed, you have no choice but to freshen up before deigning to attend an 8:30 breakfast morning meal in halls. God-forbid you show up in sweats, joggers or even worse pyjamas to breakfast. The early morning risers who've been there since opening, glance your way ready to strike an arrogant distasteful glare so deadly you will have wished you had never woken up for haggis and knock-off frosted flakes of all meals. Post breakfast, you peer into your closet for the second wardrobe change of the day, a tedious task. Styling yourself can only be likened to a rudimentary Project Runway, except instead of a 300$ budget, nice fabric and scissors, you get whichever loose pence you found in your jeans, an H&M discount sale section and 65 jackets you brought from home for the temperamental Scottish weather (you have no scissors because you forgot your ID at home). The key to managing this hormonal weather is god’s gift to the world: layering. Your cabinets are crammed with a line-up of lonely sweaters begging to be worn under that one jacket you’ve decided is your second skin for the month. The grave of ripped stockings you’ve amassed hides behind the iconic red-puffy-17th century monarch-gown you haven’t touched since Freshers week. Everyone has a staple uni-merch item, a simple monogrammed pullover for those who want to brag, a saint's sport jacket for the alcoholic athletes, the Rugby sweaters for the Americans and even baseball caps for those who forgot about the wind.
Us girls, equipped with either a special edition Longchamp or a literary-themed tote bag (to prove that you can read), march into town prepared to grapple and shove for the best seat to “study” at any of our town's cafes. If you’re a guy with actual books to carry around, sorry but no fanny packs for you, find a satchel or suffer. Kendall Jenner herself couldn’t brave the beaten cobblestone runway that is the path into town from the highlands of ABH, DRA and Morrisons, certainly not in the heeled boots that every St Andrews lassie struts in. As demonstrated these past weeks, the temperature and climate forecast of this town is less than reliable, so you must always be prepared for any wardrobe malfunction that might occur due to unprecedented hail in the month of April.
What’s not advertised on the about-section of the St Andrews website are the countless ball gowns and tuxes you’ll need for the endless pricey fétes you will undoubtedly attend— you wouldn’t be caught dead in the same outfit twice. Not to mention the budget you’ll have to set aside for the rounds of dry-cleaning you’ll need to make at Top Stitches, you don’t even want to know what sort of dried dirt, spilt drink and mysterious crusty substances have soiled your beloved costume. Be prepared for all your clothes to become absolutely horrid; whether it be pier jumps at 7:30, attending a late-night bonfire or rolling around absolutely sloshed on the beach, there is no avoiding the copious laundry you will have to do in the crippled 16th-century washing machines this town has so generously preserved.
Maybe you can get away with wearing a hoodie at the main library, but it would be the ultimate fashion faux pas to venture into St Mary's without looking like Blair Waldorf’s muse — it’s not so much studying as a competition to be featured on Crushes of St Andrews. After all, there is no better place to determine the it-girls and boys of this town than from posts vaguely describing “blonde girl with jacket”. Enter Spoiled Life in anything short of a blazer and heels, and risk having their delicious vegan carrot cake chucked at you from the upstairs balcony from guffawing elites, like a tomato thrown at the lowly trainer-wearing-peasant you are. Venturing into Toppings means you must dress à-la-manic-pixie-dream-girl, the honour of strolling around this treasured bookstore is only granted to those who sport folklore-esque jumpers and a reusable mug in hand.
Every social always has a theme, from beachwear to throwbacks, you need a miscellaneous costume wardrobe to rival the spare backrooms of Byre Theatre and even simple dinner parties require that basic suit you never thought you’d use. A good style for drinking isn’t just suggested, it’s mandatory; the Vic’s “anti-trackies” policy has turned away many potential customers (and for good reason), only furthering my personal agenda to rid the world of tracksuits for good. Floral sundresses for picnics in Sallies, skimpy bikinis and full-length coats for dips in West Sands, dresses for weddings, fake weddings, engagement parties, fake engagement parties, proposals, fake pro— you get the picture—the outfits needed are endless.
It’s mandatory upon entrance to the town to select your “aesthetic” for the remainder of your stay, it’s very important you find a way to stand out amid the thousands of other students suffering from imposter syndrome. Will you follow the “daddy's money” aesthetic, dressing like you were plucked out from the pits under the Old Course, accoutered in white cashmere cardigans, plaid bottoms and a Moncler equipped with a lighter and cig for that essential smoke break. Or are you an artsy kid clad in fishnets, charity shop jeans, Doc Martens, and that ripped paint-stained jacket you refuse to replace. If that’s not for you, you can select an indie style that requires niche headphones, a minimum of 4 piercings, hair dyed thrice and a graphic tee of a band I know you’ve never listened to. You can dress in dark academia, or in classics attire, even a North Face puffer, simple tights and a black skirt will suffice as an aesthetic (although you risk looking like a cosplay of a Madras College kid). If you're lucky enough to obtain one of the few puffers with the fashion show slogans of FS, VS, SS, Catwalk, or Don’t Dogwalk- no need to look further for your aesthetic- as this coat will now become your only personality trait. Whichever your niche, one must be set, how else will the panache reputation of this town be upheld?
Now, not every tutorial demands style, while they may be dying on the inside with two hours of sleep on average, the bio, chem and medicine students have no duty to the fashion community, rather flashing their bleached lab coats as a hall pass to avoid scrutiny over their tired outfits. However, if you have made the wise decision of studying a course in the school of Arts or Divinity, then hopefully you’ve got Anna Wintour on speed-dial or else you won’t survive the cutthroat fashion show that is a tutorial. Modern language courses require outfits representative of your language: the harder the alphabet, the more glasses are worn. You’re essentially manifesting a study abroad experience in Paris if you’re wearing a La Marinière top. For the 99% of humanities students who take international relations, a solid wardrobe is a must. No one’s going to trust you can one day forge global treaties or solve world peace with dignified leaders if you're wearing crocs to class you absolute fool. And if IR is the haute couture show of modules, then Management is the Met Gala—after all, if you can’t even manage your own fashion then why should you pass a management module— it's in the name for god's sake.
Illustration: Sarah Knight