So you’re packing for uni and thinking about the year ahead. You’re probably excited to wear something exciting to a formal, or a cool top on a night out. Maybe you’re a bit nervous; you feel you don’t know what to expect. For some, it may be the first time you’re fully in charge of your own finances. The temptation to splash the cash on new clothes is strong. After all, it’s hard to feel confident about uni when you feel your clothes don’t reflect who you are. Rather, they reflect who you were last year, or the year before. With all these wardrobe worries, and limited funds to fix them, Here is a Varsity guide to adapting your wardrobe to uni, on a shoestring budget.

Step 1- Make a list of everything you own, and write where there are gaps in your wardrobe. Gaps include things you don’t wear/ like anymore. For instance, if you have three long sleeve tops but you never wear one, sell that one and start looking for another. There is no point in holding onto clothes you don’t wear. Your wardrobe will start to thrive when every item becomes useful and loved.

Step 2- This leads me to my Mum’s favourite mantra: only buy exactly what you need. Revisiting the metaphorical top scenario; if you are buying a new top, you don’t need to buy it in every colour and end up with six new tops. Buy enough to fill that singular gap within your wardrobe. This benefits your pocket, wardrobe space, and the environment. With all these benefits, it’s clear that sometimes less really is more.

Step 3- Now that you’ve replaced an item you don’t like in your wardrobe, you don’t want to repeat this process every time you fall out of love with your clothes. Solution: aim to buy enduring pieces. For me, this looks like buying pieces that aren’t purely trend based. Often, I opt for less patterns or pieces I can adapt into more than three outfits. You don’t need statement piece after statement piece; they’re expensive, go out of style quickly and aren’t useful in every outfit. For instance, if you only have two pairs of jeans and sell one pair, don’t then buy a pink pair to replace them. They’ll go out of style and you’ll be lumped with the bill and a useless item. Instead, go wild on accessories. They’re often cheaper and you can change the tone of an outfit entirely with them.

Step 4- I’ve mentioned buying enduring pieces. I often find these are less loud than statement pieces. You may worry that your wardrobe, thus, will lack originality, or vibrancy. My answer to that is buy second hand. Vintage shopping has so many benefits, not just eco ones. You can flirt with colour and pattern at a fraction of the cost. If you buy Vinted, (rather than Depop), the prices aren’t as eye wateringly high. Also, your items are usually one of a kind, making your style more individual. There’s little chance of Jenny, at the college next door, having the same top as you. You part with less cash, you’re being eco friendly and if you don’t like it you can always resell it easily. Finally, if brands are your thing, you can find these on vintage websites, eg. Doc Marten or Urban Outfitters, for a fairer price.

Step 5- Saving up. After all, this article is about student budgets. I feel like a parent saying this, but it’s simple really. If you pop £5-20 into a savings account every week, you’ll soon have enough to pay for those new shoes you’ve been eyeing up. I prefer this way to spend; when you eventually make a purchase it feels so much sweeter to know you’ve saved little by little for something you really love. And plus, you have time to thoroughly mull over the purchase in the time it takes to save.


Mountain View

Top picks A Varsity Fashion Guide for a night-out in Cambridge

Bonus step- The most important step to me is patience. It takes time to develop a whole new look. As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day; your perfect wardrobe will take months, even years to build. Don’t be tempted to panic drop hundreds of pounds in freshers week on your new look. You’ll regret it in week six when you can only afford pesto pasta for tea. Enjoy the slow and exciting accumulation of individual pieces you love. That evolution creates a truly beautiful and unique student wardrobe.