Luckily, there’s always a film or TV character to guide us through the seasonDaisy Cox @coolartbyacooldude for Varsity

September is upon us. A month that has marked the onset of a new academic year for so long that the youthful angst it is accompanied by comes with muscle memory. Luckily, there’s always a film or TV character to guide us through the season. Somehow though, they seem to go through the exact same motions as we do (or worse), but do so without ever breaking a sartorial sweat. So, if you’re starting to pack up your wardrobes for another year at Cambridge and are looking for inspiration, here is a list of some on-screen students that have taught us a lesson no educational institution can teach better: how to dress. 

Rory Gilmore - Gilmore Girls

This cream cable knit is another Rory Gilmore-core essential

Rory’s secret to weathering her tumultuous days at Yale? Layering. Lots of it. Roll necks under sleeveless wool dresses; button-ups and cardigans and, most importantly, a good coat. With a staple brown leather jacket or something so ornately buttoned and patterned that it looks like it has been fashioned out of one of her grandmother’s rugs (in the best way), Rory’s outerwear deserved a guest role status of its own. There’s cosiness in all of her outfits that represent a desire to hold onto home comforts whilst she’s away, something to remember ahead of another Michaelmas.

Hilary Banks - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air 

Her time as a student was short-lived, but her status as a fashion icon is not

Hilary may not have been a student at UCLA for very long, but the playful yet powerful preppiness that she maintained throughout the Fresh Prince make her a definite style icon, even for those with longer academic tenures. Her strongest asset is her ability to make a statement. Be it with a colour-coordinated bowler hat or a chunky gold necklace, Hilary’s accessories are perfectly curated choices that never look overdone. Minimal in amount but maximal in effect, this can be easy to recreate if there isn’t enough room in your suitcase to bring along every accessory you own. 

Ashley Banks - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

If the 90s is your favourite style era, Ashley and Hilary are your perfect guides

But if preppy isn’t your thing, younger sister Ashley’s style may be the one to steal. Ashley’s outfits are quintessentially 90s. Her jeans are straight-legged; her shirts are oversized and her dungarees and slip dresses will forever be found over a printed babydoll tee. If we’ve learnt anything, these are choices that continue to be timeless.

Serena van der Woodsen - Gossip Girl

Knee-highs and a tailored coat: Serena staples

Though the court of public opinion often falls in Blair’s favour, there’s a reason why Serena was the reigning fashion ‘it-girl’ of the Upper East Side. Slouchy boots that are always knee-high and a strong tailored jacket or blazer are one of the many Serena staples that lots of us have already been implementing in our closets. The secret to her outfits are pieces that are just as free-spirited (and messy) as she is. Though some of her choices are naturally dated now, her penchant for mixing the trendy with the vintage makes for the epitome of an authentic personal style.

Elle Woods and Vivian Kensington - Legally Blonde 

Pink is the fashion colour of the year

The two are at odds for most of the film, and the dichotomy in their costuming certainly reflects it. Elle, in all of her pink, would’ve loved Pink PP- a colour that has proven to be a fashion favourite this year. Vivian is more for those whose preferred style tribe is dark academia: with argyle vests, collared shirts and cashmere sweaters.


Mountain View

Five ways to adapt your summer outfits to suit the cold

But who’s to say we can’t emulate the best of both worlds when it comes to Elle and Vivian? Switch out the neutrals for something brighter; the pearls for a charm necklace and you too can put aside their differences. What, like it’s hard?