Sneakers are seen on the cobbled catwalk of PeterhouseSophie Weinmann

For the first of many college visits, I decided to make a trip across the street to Peterhouse. Not just for its beautiful gardens and stunning architecture, but also because the students at the oldest of Cambridge's colleges have acquired a university-wide reputation for being especially artsy and individual.

The college system is one of the things that makes Cambridge a unique university experience. Talking to two second year students at Peterhouse, I aimed to explore how this aspect of Cambridge may impact the process of exploring fashion and finding your personal style, which a lot of people undertake in the transition from school to university. Does the fact that we have a “home” within a big university affect the way we go out of our comfort zone when it comes to fashion? Or do existing stereotypes and reputations of each college add a certain amount of pressure to our concept of style?

“College acts as a base from which to experiment with personal style during your degree”

With a pair of blue velvet knee-high boots being what earned her her first fashion compliment at Peterhouse, Rachel, a second year HSPS student, confirms that students at Peterhouse definitely appreciate when others move away from what’s on trend and express their own ideas of fashion.

Rachel and Naomi go on to identify grungy and vintagey looks as very characteristic of many Peterhouse students’ style. While this may be especially visible in Peterhouse, it’s definitely a look that you’ll often see around Cambridge.

Peterhouse is known for its artsy, grungy lookSophie Weinmann

So maybe Peterhouse isn’t artsier or grungier than any other college in Cambridge. However, my conversation with Rachel and Naomi directed my attention to another unique aspect that the Cambridge college system adds to the university’s fashion scene: the fact that your college acts as your home for your three (or more) years at Cambridge allows you to have a base from which to experiment with more out there looks. Rachel, Naomi and I agree that college is a place where we don’t have to worry about what people might think about what we chose to wear.

Considering the fact that none of us are particularly worried about whether a stranger on the street approves of our fashion choices, the fact that we feel comfortable enough to go to the college library in sweatpants may not be particularly surprising or noteworthy. However, I do think it’s a testament to how much your college can become your home during your time at university.


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Peterhouse, and Pembroke respectively, haven’t just become a safe haven in the superficial fashion sense, but the peace of mind we feel with regard to our style can also be transferred to broader parts of our university experience. For me personally, Pembroke has become both a secure base and a source of comfort in the hustle and bustle that is Cambridge - and peace of mind I feel regarding a zero effort college look is most certainly a small - but not insignificant - part of that

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