INSTAGRAM: gruntld

From “Which Katy Perry Song Is Your College?” to Camfess College Tier Rankings, your choice (or assignment) of college is a significant factor in forging your identity in Cambridge. Perhaps in a way not dissimilar to the importance that can be attributed to fashion, when it comes to developing a sense of identity. What you choose to wear is not just an expression of who you are as a person and the way you want the people around you to perceive you; it can also be a way to either blend in and highlight your membership to a certain group (from the obvious sports teams to the more subtle social circles) or emphasize what sets you apart.

What you choose to wear is not just an expression of who you are, it can also be a way either to blend in, or emphasise what sets you apart

In Cambridge, we talk a lot about why we chose (or didn’t choose) our college, what we love about it, what we hate about it (rent discrepancies – here’s looking at you!) and in many cases, how our colleges have become our homes. This column will look at a completely different way in which we may be shaped by our college. How does the value and exploration of fashion differ from college to college? And has students’ style been influenced by their college?

From all the research I did before coming to Cambridge last year, one of the things that stuck with me most is a little sentence I found on a tumblr blog, telling me that wearing Cambridge University hoodies is usually considered “cringey” and “touristy”, whereas college jumpers and scarves are a popular choice. Outside of Cambridge – and especially outside of the UK – most people you encounter will have no idea what the three cockerels on your jumper stand for. The Cambridge University logo however, would most likely be recognized by the majority of people you meet.

Why do we choose to explicitly identify with our college over our university – and in such an open way?

So why do we choose to explicitly identify with our college over our university – and in such an open way? Maybe it really is because we don’t want to seem “touristy” or “cringey”. Maybe it’s because our college gives us a sense of home and belonging that we want to hold on to as much as possible. Or maybe, it’s because we are constantly in search of a way to define ourselves – especially in the busy and confusing cosmos that is Cambridge University – against the expectations and preconceptions that are often placed on us as “Cambridge Students”.

University of Cambridge merchandise can seem touristy, but college stash is always a popular choiceSophie Weinmann

Outside of Cambridge, the college you go to may not have any meaning at all. Yet, every Cambridge student you speak to (past or present) will have a story to tell about what their college means to them and how it has shaped their university experience. Similarly, what you wear is sometimes seen as a superficial choice based on what’s currently in style or which colour suits you. However, it also always represents a decision you have made – consciously or subconsciously – and therefore offers others an insight into who you are as a person.


Mountain View

From the runway to King’s Parade

Maybe, just like King’s students aren’t all edgy and artsy and not everyone that goes to Jesus loves sports, there’s also no link between your college and your style at all. However, it’s clear that the Cambridge collegiate system creates a unique university experience, and surely that must in some way also affect abstract areas of our lives like fashion.

Whether it’s looking at the way students dress for a day spent in college versus a full day of lectures, or exploring how your college’s location affects your style choices (cyclechic or rolled-out-of-bed look?) this column will, over the next few weeks, look at all of the possible intersections between personal style and Cambridge college.