Determining what to pack for university may seem like common sense – given the countless online articles touting university “essentials”. But most of these lists are irrelevant to St Andrews, given our university’s many unique qualities. After experiencing first year in 2013, I have compiled a list of fashion essentials that are specific to St Andrews. This list applies to anyone, no matter your style or gender.
1. Versatile dresses or suits
Although St Andrews has its fair share of house parties and pub nights, charity balls are a mainstay on the social calendar. For girls, the key is to purchase simple dresses with classic silhouettes that are versatile enough to wear repeatedly. Choosing a-line dresses in red, black, or navy will cover all of the bases. Long dresses are unnecessary for St Andrews events (even May Ball) and usually end up dirty from stumbling fellow students. For boys, owning one or two simple suits is sufficient.
2. Cropped Wellington boots
Bringing full-size Wellington boots to Scotland may seem like common sense, but few students wear them often. Unless you’re in the Clay Pigeon club or enjoy traipsing knee deep in the North Sea, a cropped pair is recommended. These will sufficiently protect your feet from the wet without being too bulky to store or carry. The best brands for city-wear Wellingtons are Burberry, Hunter and Doc Martens – but most department stores offer quality options.
3. Classic waterproof jacket
Within this category, the large majority of students opt for Barbour jackets. If you want to stand out, there is still a large student population that prefers other brands (Belstaff, Burberry, Patagonia, Petit Bateau, H&M), which make nicer jackets within a similar or lower price range. The best styles to opt for are either a cropped trench coat or a Petit Bateau cut raincoat.
4. Worn heels or dress shoes
During the summer, it is recommended you purchase a pair of simple dress shoes and wear them to death. Make sure that the heels are thick so they do not end up caught in the St Salvator’s Quad grass. Thin heels also have the tendency to become caught in the cobblestone streets. Thankfully for most boys this is never a problem. However, breaking in a pair of dress shoes over the summer is still a sensible idea, since stiff leather is never fun.
5. Two or three cashmere or wool sweaters
On days when lecture halls are freezing, wool sweaters are a godsend for boys and girls alike. Wearing one underneath a short waterproof jacket provides sufficient warmth and protection for most St Andrews weather.
6. Bubble umbrella
No matter how much you spend on an umbrella, the North Sea wind will guaranteed turn it inside out. The purchase of a bubble umbrella will keep anyone dry on even the worst St Andrews days. Purchasing this item in St Andrews is recommended, since bubble umbrellas cannot fold and are awkward to travel with. Acquiring a small bag umbrella is also advised, since rain often appears when least expected.
7. Comfortable slippers
On freezing cold treks to the dining hall, putting on trainers usually doesn’t cut it. Fur moccasins with soles are recommended, especially if one is headed for a North Point breakfast after a long night of studying.
8. A cheap “going out jacket”
I have heard the infamous story of “my jacket was stolen at the Vic and later sold online” far too many times. To avoid this problem, buy a simple jacket from Primark to provide shelter from the wind. If someone steals it, buying a replacement coat won’t require taking out another student loan.
9. Rechargeable phone case
The number of times my friends have ended up separated at Kinkell Byre far exceeds the double digits. A phone case such as a Mophie – which recharges iPhone batteries from zero to 80 per cent – can avert this common problem.
10. Waterproof spray or waterproof items
Since the rainy Scottish stereotype is far from a lie, using waterproof spray or buying waterproof items is a smart idea. Using a spray is particularly important if you own anything suede (water darkens suede) or made of ordinary leather (water dries out leather, often making it crack).