Different strokes for different folks could not be truer than for fashion, as everyone has their own unique way of playing dress-up in their daily lives. Sometimes, however, we’re all in need of a little guidance. Hence, here’s some advice for our incoming freshers and forgetful second/third years on what to wear in Cambridge.


This is likely to be your first formal event in Cambridge, and unless you’re as disorganised as me, you’ll probably capture many a photo to be proudly hung in your family home, which means a haunting fashion regret is not your friend. Opt for a classic and timeless look such as a simple strappy 90s style dress, a wrap dress or a well-fitting suit (preferably not all black, though, as this will blend with your gown, enveloping you in a black cape). Comfort is key, but make sure that your ensemble is both sophisticated and modest - it is your Cambridge Matriculation after all…


Mountain View

New York Fashion Week: the highlights


This depends on whether you’re going to a civilised college formal or a swap, and can differ from college to college. If it’s a swap, then I suggest something secure in terms of shoes and dress (why this is will become clear soon enough). If it is a superhall (i.e. Christmas, Halloween or Pink Week) then dress up according to the theme. For a regular formal, keep it relatively relaxed but still smart. A dark floral wrap dress, cigarette trousers with a glitzy top or even a simple A-line skirt and lightweight fitted jumper is perfect. Elegant boots or flats will do, but if you’re a heel-lover then this is certainly your time to shine. The Cambridge cobbles are enemies of stilettos, but a sit-down meal just a short walk away from your room is your greatest ally.


Clubbing style varies from city to city, but in Cambridge, it can be defined as casual with a hint of dressing-up. Generally for Cindies and Life, jeans and a ‘nice top’ is the standard go-to. Trainers are an essential; preferably wear ones that you don’t mind ruining on those sticky floors. Turf, Haze and Arcsoc are often themed and therefore people tend to choose a more risqué outfit, such as a mesh top over a bralette, and there are always lots of sparkles - you’ll be hard-pressed to recognise anyone in the crowd of glitter-covered faces.

If you lack pockets then a small, discreet bag to carry money, ID, keys and phone is essential to avoid cloakroom queues and costs. Most important of all is a warm but inexpensive coat for those winter nights, particularly if you live in one of the far-out colleges such as Homerton or Medwards. The walk back can be bracing in winter and there is simply no amount of cheesy chips that can distract you.


Lectures, unlike many of the schools you’ll have come from, have no dress code and therefore the world (Sidgwick site) is your runway. From basic and simple to daring and striking, any and every personal style will be seen in lecture halls, and this is one of the most fascinating parts about fashion in Cambridge.

“The Cambridge cobbles are enemies of stilettos, but a sit-down meal just a short walk away from your room is your greatest ally”

My best advice is a large coat to snuggle up in against the wind and pain of a 9am lecture, and a practical but eye-catching backpack (shoulder bags just don’t work on a bike). My top backpack suggestions are the classic Eastpak, or for a more chic look (but slightly more expensive), the vegan leather brand, Matt and Nat.

Many of these pieces can be found in the Grand Arcade, a great procrastination station, or at the Grafton Centre if you fancy a cycle, which also boasts a range of charity shops. My personal favourite, however, is the Oxfam opposite Magdalene where I regularly stop off on my walk up the hill in an attempt to put off work for an extra ten minutes; I’ve often found many a great bargain