MIT vs. Cambridge

Cambridge and MIT may both be world-renowned universities, but who ranks better in the style stakes?

MIT university

As an exchange student from MIT (Boston, USA), the Cambridge world of fashion came as a huge culture shock.

Lets be honest, the terms ‘Fashion’ and ‘MIT’ are never stereotypically associated with each other. MIT culture revolves around Mathematics and innovation and, unfortunately this also somehow applies to fashion. While the average student wears a jumper and jeans, it is not uncommon to see students wearing their latest science project! (Which caused a bit of a legal controversy at a Boston airport, see here). Even as an MIT sorority girl, there is often a feeling of “I can’t be bothered” that is associated with MIT fashion. This mass mentality is derived from our thoughts that wasting time on fashion is not conducive to finding a cure for cancer or creating the first conscious robot. And, I mean, why make an effort if nobody else is going to? Even we sorority girls often choose comfort over fashion, opting for a simple black Northface and a versatile pair of Sperry’s.


MIT Fashion Essentials Include:

  • – Jeans, jeans, and more jeans
  • – Ridiculously big puffy snow jacket
  • – Company T-shirts, lots and lots of company T-shirts
  • (As one article quotes, “Why buy shirts when tons of companies shell out big bucks to come to MIT and give them to you for free? And is it necessary to change clothes every time the sun rises or just when you wake up?”)
  • – MIT apparel, including (and yes, people REALLY wear these):

  • – Greek life (Sorority/Fraternity) apparel
  • – Anything that a sleep deprived techy nerd finds on their floor and is preferably remotely clean


Like most aspects of Cambridge, fashion is important, traditional and classy. (For example, you even have a Cambridge fashion blog!) During my first few weeks here, I felt as if I was in my very own Vogue catalogue… (or in Harry Potter!)

As opposed to MIT’s, Cambridge’s mass mentality is to value fashion and physical appearance. At MIT I frequently attended lectures in oversized loungewear and pyjamas. I mean, best to be comfortable when learning! But at Cambridge, I feel an obligation to ensure I look presentable even run to the vending machine! Many Cambridge students derive some amount of self worth from outward appearance. A person’s lack of interest in dressing up may symbolize disinterest in fitting in or conforming to society. So, to compare…


Cambridge Fashion essentials include:

  • – A ridiculous amount of black tights
  • – Harry Potter-esque college gown
  • – Cute formal dresses
  • – Form fitting peacoat
  • – College scarf