Edinburgh’s recommendation to spend £1k on graduation clothes is pure classism

Not only this, it’s so sexist it’s cringe-worthy


It is undeniable that the University of Edinburgh has a reputation of being full of rich, posh, southern Englishmen who go shooting on the weekend and sleep in their Barbours. Although it has one of the biggest percentages of students who attended private schools – thirty per cent of the student body – this is obviously a false representation. However, earlier this week the University decided to live up to its stereotype big time by sending an online article to the graduating class, recommending that students spend thousands – that’s right – £1000, £1k, a grand – on an outfit for graduation.  After a massive backlash, twitter uproar, and it being ripped to shreds on the Cuntry Living Facebook page, the piece was swiftly deleted and replaced with an apology.

Regardless, what the hell were they thinking? The recommendation from the University – a body designed to create meritocracy in an inherently unequal world – to spend that amount of money on clothing for one day, is nothing but classism (with a hint of sexism for good measure, but I’ll get to that). Ultimately, it’s unclear who the piece was aimed at, but it certainly wasn’t the average Edinburgh Uni student, 99% of which are excluded from their fashion recommendations.

First off, with the University attributing the article to Harvey Nichols, it is absolutely awful that a University is providing advertising for certain brands, especially as the kind of brands mentioned in the article are ridiculously expensive, and thus only aimed at a certain type of student. Noting that female students should buy their dresses from ‘a brand like Carven or Iro’, they are suggesting spending £300+ and advertising ‘Gianvito Rossi heels’ and a Prouenza Schouler clutch is actually laughable.  Yeah mate here’s almost two months rent for a clutch with ‘personality’ to put our ‘lippy’and ‘smartphones’ in for a few hours. Madness.

More out of touch with the student population than George Osborne, it’s like the author is an alien who’s pretending to be one of us. It is 2016. Who wears ‘Carven’ or ‘Iro’? Who says the word ‘lippy’? Gianvito Rossi heels are literally £500. Who the hell calls it a smartphone? Graduation gowns are already borderline extortionate. Who actually cares how much you spend on a dress for grad day?


Not only this, but the article is so sexist it’s cringe-worthy. In fairness, male students are recommended ‘affordable’ suits of which the cheapest is £500. But, by patronizingly calling female students ‘girls’, telling them to buy a clutch to ‘store your lippy’ and that ‘like the boys’ they should ‘put their money into a garment that has longevity that you can dress up and down to suit any social/business occasion’, the author shows their age. Last time I checked it wasn’t 1956 and females weren’t condemned to spend their lives cleaning their house and baking while waiting for hubby to come home from work.

Ultimately, even if you’re getting the absolute maximum amount of money you can get from the student loans company for someone living away from home, as well as the maximum access bursary from the University, you’re still paying at least £5,000 for rent, and having to live on the rest. In reality, most students have to work, scrimp, save and use overdrafts to get by, and although that’s a part of the Uni experience, the idea that we would have £1,000 to spend on clothes for one day is ludicrous.

However, the worst is yet to come. Prepare yourselves for the the absolute worst line in the whole disgusting shit storm of an article, and potentially the most harmful. Picture this: you’ve spent four years working like mad towards your degree, you’ve finally – if you’re lucky – secured a grad job, yet if you’re Scottish you’re facing the debt of the maintenance loans you’ve lived on, and if you’re not Scottish you’re facing this and a (maybe lifelong) debt of AT LEAST £36,000 for your tuition fees. And then you read this article and see:

‘Remember, image is everything!’

This says one thing alone: forget the hard work you’ve done in those four years to gain your degree, forget the congratulations for graduating, how you look means everything, and thus if you’re not investing in some ‘sophisticated glamour’ you are nothing. The University has sent a poisonous message instead of what they ought to have sent: wear whatever you feel comfortable in and whatever you can afford. Congratulations on graduating and surviving the four years of your degree. Good luck in the future.