Heels v Hi Tops: The fashion dilemma dividing the nation’s universities

And you don’t really have a choice

belfast cardiff cultural divide heels hi tops hightops Leeds Liverpool manchester new balance noad north south divide shoes stilettos university

Do you wear heels or hi tops on a night out? You better decide, because your shoe selection says a lot more about you than “I couldn’t be bothered to paint my toe nails tonight, so I’ll stick to my Converse.”

Oh no. Once you’ve chosen the fateful shoe, it’ll say what kind of music you’re into, gives a good indication where in the country you’re from and whether or not you consider yourself a posh hipster. It’ll even give a pretty good clue to what kind of knickers you’ve got on (if any at all).

Heels v hightops featured image

The great divide

And it all really comes down to which university you’re at. You need to respect the city’s dress code and select accordingly: there are definitely specific dress codes for different cities. You might have never dreamed of sticking on a heel back in your cosy country hometown, but if you’ve wound up at the likes of Cardiff or Belfast you quickly learn to shut up and put up.

Or you could be the biggest prin going with your fake tan and rollers, but rock up at the University of Manchester for three years, studying History with a bigger selection of stilettos than you’ll find in Kurt Geiger, and you’re quickly going to learn that’s just not how it’s done.

heels v hi tops CROP

You probably should have thought about this when you were filling out your UCAS. We could save a lot of hassle and aggravation if each uni were made to add a little box into its prospectus with a dress code:

“If you want to stick on your glad rags and spend ten hours dolling yourself up while listening to Britney, Liverpool University will be just up your street. You can dance away in LEVEL in your bodycon and wedges to your heart’s content.

“But if you fancy giving your feet a break and would rather put some house on, work the chipped nail varnish (it’s so in right now) and get high instead of faffing about with eyelashes, you should look at applying for the likes of Leeds.”

hitopheels chart

It’s the classic heel/hi top divide, and there are several ways you can predict which one your uni will be.

Firstly, by location. If you’re rocking up down south at the likes of Exeter, pack lots of flats. If you’re entering the eternally hip Leeds, take your New Balance. If you’re heading west, to Belfast or Cardiff, you better have some wedges in there.

Secondly, by how private school it is. There’s a divide running through cities with more than one uni, such as Newcastle and Nottingham, like the Berlin Wall.


So Madchester

If you want to waltz round in your rollers, don't go to Exeter

If you want to waltz round in your rollers, don’t go to Exeter

If you’re at Uni of, you’re showing everyone how self-aware you are of your privileged background. Your future prospects are all in hand, so you’re just making the most of your time at uni to really let loose and give a big fuck you to capitalism.

If you’re at the poly (sorry, former-poly), you’re climbing the social ladder one stiletto at a time. You aren’t really arsed about your lectures, and when you’ve got a big night planned, there definitely isn’t time to go to lectures and exfoliate/shave/tan/fix your brow game and go shopping for an outfit.

If you’re feeling a bit lost at your university, just look at your shoes. A change of style could go a long way.