How to avoid the St Andrews style cliches

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The "St Andrews style"? Photo: Anna McAlpine
The "St Andrews style"? Photo: Anna McAlpine
The “St Andrews style”? Photo: Anna McAlpine

Congratulations: you’ve made it into St Andrews! With Freshers’ Week approaching, if you’re anything like I was then you may be wondering what on earth you should be packing to keep you stylish in the tiny coastal town that is St Andrews.

First things first – the clichés are clichés for a reason. They are overdone, stereotypical and boring. If you take only one thing from this article, realise that the St Andrews dress code is not one which should be sought after, let alone adhered to!

I am a lover of fashion but more so a lover of style, an altogether very personal matter. There is nothing stylish about welcoming in a whole new year group of fashion clones. The truth (which seemingly no one wants you to know) is that there is no set style of dress in St Andrews that will help you ‘fit in’. You will be admired far more if you stay true to your unique sense of style and do not conform to an ideal.

That being said, there is no denying that the image of the ‘typical St Andrews girl’ exists. It’s splashed across all forms of media and perpetuated by the sheep of the St Andrews student community. The girl has perfectly quaffed hair, a soft knit sweater, a Barbour jacket, tight jeans and Hunter wellies. She has probably rounded it off with a dash of pearls (pulls that look together, apparently). She secretly likes to think of herself as Kate Middleton, donned in designer gear and royal delusions.

This is not the way it has to be! As someone who worships all forms of fashion media from Vogue to the humble street style blog, a little part of me dies when I see this outfit replicated on many a girl about town. This is a call to arms for the sake of St Andrews style – we can do it together! Now to demystify those ever haunting clichéd ‘key’ pieces.

1. The infamous Barbour

Full disclosure, before one of you calls me out on Market Street: yes I own a Barbour. Do I wear it every day of my life, come rain or shine? No. Would I ever pair it with the holy trinity, as quoted by The Other Guys, of “Hunter boots, Barbour and Raybans”? No. I am not saying it will not be practical on some damp days but don’t feel obliged to wear it around town as a status symbol. You look like every third person in the street who is also wearing one – guys and girls alike.

2. Hunter wellies

I can vouch for their sturdiness and durability. They have lasted me years working with the horses and walking my dog on the beach. Yet I am often assaulted with the sight of them in lecture halls and tutorials. If you have just been on the farm or it is particularly wet / snowy outside then I’ll turn a blind eye, but most of the time they are being worn for neither of these reasons.

Hailing from Scotland myself, I can reassure the international community that yes, it rains in Scotland, and no, it does not rain enough to qualify wellington boots as daily footwear. Try that trick anywhere that values unique style, like Glasgow or Edinburgh, and you will be laughed all the way back to Fife. For practicality, yes; for fashion, no.

3. The prep set

We are talking about the combinations of shirts, jeans, cashmere jumpers, pearls and blazers. All very classic and, of course, all very chic. If this is your usual style then stick to it. But this is university now and there is no longer a need to wear a uniform, so don’t try to create one for yourself. While it may be nice to dip into the preppy style every so often, don’t let the vibe of the town tie you to it. You will be just as appreciated for donning your leather jackets and outlandish trousers with pride! So the moral of this cautionary tale: wear whatever expresses yourself and do not conform. A very simple message, yet a very important one to remember.

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