A classic Sidgewick fit versus a more homely styleIsabel Dempsey (left) and Max Ungless (right)

I write this article from my home in the middle of nowhere. For some, the move out of Cambridge reintroduces them into the much more fast-paced worlds of Manchester or London. Others, to similarly sized cities or towns. And for people like me, to sleepy little villages with an average population age range somewhere over the retirement mark. Today, my outfit of choice consists of a simple grey top and my favourite pair of jeans. In Cambridge, I would consider this a “struggle fit”. What I wear when I’m sick, sad, or tired - I’m not going anywhere or doing anything other than locking myself in the library and forcing myself to finish that essay. It’s not exactly a Sidgwick-showstopper, but it’s what most of my holiday wardrobe looks like.

Living in the middle of nowhere with no driving licence, terrible public transport, and one friend within walking distance, I don’t get out much during the holidays. I can imagine for those living in London their wardrobe doesn’t change as significantly; in the big city, there’s a whole host of fashionable people to impress with their fits. Whereas I don’t think the two dog walkers I might risk encountering in a walk around the village have ever had a single thought about the outfit that I’ve crafted that day.

“It’s not exactly a Sidgwick-showstopper, but it’s what most of my holiday wardrobe looks like”

Of course, I shouldn’t just be dressing to impress. Shouldn’t my style stay consistently the same regardless of who’s going to see it? Isn’t that how I stay true to myself? But it’s not really that simple. At home, I feel the need to save my good outfits for the rare occurrence that I actually escape my village, even if it’s just to ensure my fits get the appreciation they deserve. If I wear any of my favourite outfits in front of my family they’re just going to ask why I’m so dressed up, because apparently it’s universally agreed upon by parents that people can’t just dress nicely for the sheer joy of it. When I do dress down, however, it’s not because I’m seeking my family’s approval. It just makes sense to wear the warmest and comfiest thing I can find when I’m holed up at home for the day. Yes, you should always wear what makes you feel good, but that changes with context.

In Cambridge, I will sometimes prioritise style over comfort because I want people at Sidgwick Site to think I’m as cool as them (and because I obviously want somebody to submit a Crushbridge about me). I constantly compare myself to others at uni – and not just in academics. Even when I think I’ve chosen a pretty good fit for the day I’m still far from the best-dressed person in the English lecture hall. My home outfits may not make me feel like the cool Pinterest girlie that I strive to be, but there is some comfort in not having to live up to some unattainable standard. I know not everybody feels the same pressure to treat Sidge like their runway, but cool clothes certainly do hold significant social points in the Cambridge sphere. And, even if it’s vain to say, as someone who’s never really considered themselves to be a “cool” person, I like winning those points.

“Yes, you should always wear what makes you feel good, but that changes with context”

My one friend in the village could definitely have been a Sidgwick icon in another life – she will wear perfectly crafted eyeliner and bold lipsticks even on days when she’s not seeing a single soul. However, it is very rare that I get the urge to do the same. And yet, thanks to her, I don’t get as self-conscious about wearing my favourite clothes around the village when I am in the rare mood to do so (apparently the opinions of local ageing Conservatives really don’t matter!). Even when I’m just leaving the house for relatively mundane reasons, as long as I’m seeing people who might appreciate my fits, it’s nice to put a little effort in. Because dressing up is fun, even if the elderly of Dedham village or the tracksuit youths of Colchester city aren’t quite going to rate it like the girlies of Sidgwick site.


Mountain View

Back to School with Varsity Fashion

The person I am at home and the person I am at Cambridge lead very different lives, so it’s only natural that my wardrobe reflects that. I don’t have the energy to dress up every day at home like I do when I’m away, because there’s no real need to. However, in Cambridge, I find the process of dressing up a genuinely fun one that makes me feel good about myself. Dressing up or dressing down – no option is more comfortable or more true to myself than the other. They just fulfil different needs.