Fashion can be a tool for blending in and standing outSophie Weinmann

Often, fashion is used in either of two ways: to blend in or to stand out. Before moving to Cambridge I would scroll through Instagram trying to get an idea of what Cambridge life would be like, and the types of people I would meet. What would people wear at Cambridge? Would there be a distinct Cambridge style? Would I fit in or would I stand out?

at school I didn’t want to blend in, but at Cambridge I did

Continuing the exploration of Cambridge students’ relationship to fashion and the development of their personal style during their time in Cambridge, this week I spoke to Ada Günther, a third-year English student, about how she expected Cambridge students to dress before coming here, and how her expectations matched up to the real thing.

Dressing can be a subconsciously influenced processSophie Weinmann

“Before coming to Cambridge, I used to always think of myself as someone who wanted to stand out with what I wear. There was a period of time at school where I would purposefully wear really awful color clashes just to annoy everyone. Most people at my school dressed exactly the same and would be so shocked when they saw my outfits which is exactly why I did it - to get that reaction from them. I then really wasn’t sure what it would be like coming here. So when I first came to Cambridge, I packed lots of elegant, button-up shirts, nice jumpers to wear over my shirts and corduroy pants with really nice belts. It was what I expected people at Cambridge to wear and I was prepared to blend in. Basically, at school I didn’t want to blend in, but at Cambridge I did.”

'I ended up being so wrong about how people dressed at Cambridge'Sophie Weinmann

Fashion is in many ways tied to our identity and the identity we want to create for ourselves - how we want others to see us and how we want see ourselves. Sometimes we dress a particular way, specifically to highlight that we belong to a certain group and sometimes it’s more of a subconscious process in which we are continuously influenced by the people around us. Obviously, the way people react to the fashion around them can be very different: some might adapt their personal style to conform to what people around them are wearing, and others - like Ada - might purposefully attempt to stand out to make a statement.

I sometimes only come to Cambridge with carry-on luggage so I only take things I really want to have

Ada’s experience with her style shows us a prominent dichotomy in fashion: on the one hand, its such a personal thing, a way to express yourself and on the other hand it is also always tied to the people around us and how we want to perceived by and interact with them.


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“I ended up being so wrong about how people dressed at Cambridge. There’s not really a homogenous way of dressing here which I find really nice. So what I’ve evolved to do is wear individual pieces that mean something to me instead of following a concept or color scheme. That’s also because I always have to really pick and choose with what I take from home. I can’t really pack very much because I sometimes only come to Cambridge with carry-on luggage and so then I’ll only take things which I know I really want to have here. I feel like what I’m wearing right now is kind of an example of the type of outfit that often creates: I was just thinking, I really like all these things individually - and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but that’s cool because no one cares.”

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