Student Fashion: a survey course

UCL is an enormous multi-national city university with a diverse fashion landscape.

chic Fashion fur indie posh preppy student ucl vintage

Jimmy Choos, sweatpants, blue hair, studded biker jackets – it’s all here around campus: the 140 character wardrobe equivalents of that first who-am-I tweet defining a look, an attitude and possibly a person in a glance.

UCL is an enormous multi-national city university with a diverse fashion landscape.

The clothed student mass divides into several loose camps.

1. The least common yet most conspicuous group: the ‘over-achievers’.

These perfectly manicured creatures totter around in heels suitable for nightclubs. With designer handbags in arm and cashmere beanies protecting blow-dried, product-infused locks, they seem a bit out of place in a library.

2. At the other end of the style spectrum are the ‘couldn’t care less, books don’t judge me’ sort.

Comfort and practicality trump fashionable and chic. A hoodie and baggy jeans play the part and those extra minutes in the morning are devoted to adorning the mind.

3. A fair bulk subscribe to the artsy minimalist look.

For guys this means faded t-shirts, skinny jeans, biker boots, cardigans and wayfarer glasses. Girls look effortlessly cool in loose tank tops, high-wasted trousers or funky leggings. Vintage crops up and ‘antique’ fur coats are keeping many cosy this winter.

4. A minority embrace vintage entirely.

They appear to have stepped out of another era – usually the 60s or 70s – with midi belted dresses in stripes and florals, red lipstick and hair pinned up with a bow.

5. Preppy is popular.

Guys in red trousers, tweed blazers and loafers and girls wearing thigh-high socks, collared shirts and ballet flats – all very Gossip-Girl-esque. Thank God head-to-toe Abercrombie & Fitch has ceased. What is the point of basking in the newfound freedoms of adulthood wearing a prosaic uniform?

6. The rejection of conformity: quirky individuals who embrace the experimental, the weird and the wonderful.

I saw a girl wearing a multi-coloured printed pencil skirt with pointy metallic flats, a vintage fur coat and a fedora with a bright red feather. This breed of young adult livens up campus!

Students acquire the ability to create stylish looks that cost less than a middle-market manicure when faced with the real costs of living. Ebay is a popular source for clothing. I spend a huge amount of time sifting through pages of designer second-hand garments only to lose in a heated bidding war!

You need the same determination and patience when scouring the high street for good finds. I am always surprised when I ask someone where a stylish garment is from and they reply “H&M” or “Primark”. There are treasures hidden amongst piles of clothes that look as cheap as they are.

Fashion is foreplay in the hunt for a particular group of friends. It does not only serve a superficial social function, but don’t let anyone kid you, that first impression matters. Go forth, equipped with your limited budgets and be creative with clothes!


Fashion Editor's note:

Recognise the girl in picture 6?

That's the beautiful Stella Kattermann, only ever seen in the most polished and daring of ensembles when swanning around the UCL campus.

Stella's blog can be visited at

I think we can all learn a thing or two from this trend-setting student!

– AR