They’re indie, alternative, unique and, most importantly, not like other girls. Thrifting all their best fits from charity shops and second-hand sites, it’s unlikely they’ll ever bump into somebody wearing the exact same item as them on their way to an English lecture. Something about studying humanities just seems to provide you with an innate sense of style and a deep-rooted determination to prove it. Where their fits might look edgy and different on the streets of their hometowns, however, their supposed uniqueness is ironically enough the main thing they have in common.

With the same long coats and skinny scarves - is Sidge style really that unique?Daniel Hilton (left to right: Emily Lawson-Todd, Isabel Dempsey, Josephine Maria-Ruth, Bridie Milsom)

Over time a Sidgwick Site uniform has developed in which everyone – myself included – seems desperate to participate. All outfits must come equipped with chunky headphones, skinny scarves, long coats or leather jackets, excessive amounts of charity shop jewellery, heavy eyeliner, wide-leg trousers or flowy skirts, and (of course) Doc Marten boots. Yes, there is leeway for this uniform to be mixed and matched, but these are its key elements. Even if all their individual items are unique to their peers, the overall look is not. As Fashion writer, Kathryn Austen, describes: “Sidgwick Site fashion is a polarity of performance and functionality. The style combines both comfort and practicality fit for a day in the library, while bringing a contemporary and high fashion approach to student style.” Crucially, she says that although “each look is unique” they also “combine staple, distinctive pieces that generate a norm and expectation for fashion at Sidge.”

Hanging on the steps of SidgeDaniel Hilton (left to right: Natasha Sauvage, Izzy Thomas, Bridie Milsom)
A rare sighting of Sidge girlies walking to a lectureDaniel Hilton (left to right: Isabel Dempsey, Josephine Maria-Ruth, Bridie Milsom, Izzy Thomas)

So why have all these people, in their plight to be different, ended up dressing the same? In order for an ‘indie’ subculture to develop, it must develop a culture of its own, even if that conformity goes against its very essence. Many readers could likely imagine a ‘Sidgwick Girlie’ is just from the name alone, so it is clear their stereotyping as indie and unique is an inherent oxymoron. When people defy the norms of fashion it isn’t very often that they want to reject fashion completely. Rather they want to be praised for being different. But unless you’re a runway stylist, it’s hard to create a unique but compliment without-style without a basic blueprint. The key to a successful Sidge look is that your peers have seen that item enough for it to be deemed fashionable and admirable, but not so often that it becomes too mundane to deserve notice at all.

Skinny scarves galoreDaniel Hilton (left to right: Nyahalo Tucker, Katya Proctor, Odessa Chitty, Emily Lawson-Todd, Izzy Thomas, Bridie Milsom, Natasha Sauvage)
Will they ever make it inside the lecture block?Daniel Hilton (left to right: Isabel Dempsey, Katya Proctor)

Eden Keily-Thurstain (Deputy Fashion Editor and stylish geographer) says: “As a self-confessed Sidge girlie, I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice what other people are wearing. I try not to fall into the trap of self-comparison but definitely fail sometimes. Either way I wear my skinny scarf with pride.” In turning Sidge into a runway, it has become a centre for comparison and fits-based competition. However, where some see the best way to come out on top as conformity, others see it as their moment to shine.

Sidge girlies don't let the weather get in the way of their fitsDaniel Hilton (left to right: Josephine Maria-Ruth, Nyahalo Tucker, Katya Proctor, Josephone Maria-Ruth, Bridie Milsom, Emily Lawson-Todd)
Long skirts may be impractical but they're a Sidge stapleDaniel Hilton (left to right: Nyahalo Tucker, Isabel Dempsey, Emily Lawson-Todd, Odessa Chitty)

It’s true that not everybody conforms to the same uniform that I do. And I would like it to be clear that this article is very much a self-burn on my part. Some on Sidge couldn’t give one skinny scarf about playing into this ‘indie’ culture, while others transcend above it and become what all the Sidgwick girlies truly aspire to be. They manage to break out of the mould and piece together an outfit truly unique, jaw-dropping and never seen before. Of course I’m not critiquing anybody who does conform to the mould as well. As someone who’s always been told I dress like an English student long before Cambridge, something about the academia, cottage-core, 2000s rom-com style does feel true to myself, and something I like to believe I would continue wearing regardless of my peers. No, we’re never truly aware of how much those around us influence our daily choices, but the clone-like edge to Sidgwick Site fashion seems to be more unconscious coincidence than conscious conformity.

Sometimes fits might mirror each other but they're still unqiueDaniel Hilton (left to right: Bridie Milsom, Natasha Sauvage)
"I wear my skinny scarf with pride"Daniel Hilton (left to right: Nyahalo Tucker, Natasha Sauvage, Isabel Dempsey, Emily Lawson-Todd, Odessa Chitty, Katya Proctor)

But that doesn’t mean we have to change anything. Maybe this article can be read as a call to push yourself out of this uniform’s comfort zones, or that it’s time for Sidgwick style to be brought down a few pegs from its gleaming pedestal. Despite this uniformity, there is certainly an edge and uniqueness to this style. It’s a uniform whose rules are meant to be bent and broken. Ultimately the unifying credentials of this look are its creativity, sustainability, and the wonderful acceptance that however ‘out-there’ your outfit is, you’ll be greeted with envious praise rather than judgemental looks wherever on Sidge you go. Just don’t expect the same response from West Hub dwellers.