The before: How we found Chris Patel pre-makeoverEden Keily-Thurstain

Let me introduce you to Chris Patel. Varsity Interviews editor, gym lad and English student… though you wouldn’t guess the latter from his appearance. Chris’s aesthetic usually gives STEM-boy core (derogatory) rather than Sidge chic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this man wearing anything but a plain T-shirt, crewneck and jeans. He insists he likes his style, enjoying that his “basic look” never gets too “outlandish.” However, Chris (poor foolish drunken Chris) after one too many pints at the Varsity social made the error of agreeing to allow me and fellow fashion editor (Miss Eden Keily-Thurstain) to ’Queer Eye’ him to our hearts’ content – that’s a reference to a makeover TV show if you’ve been living under a heterosexual rock. We’d be on the hunt for a willing victim for a while, ideally a STEM student, but we decided Chris would have to do. It was time to transform this man into a real Engling.

“Chris was feebly equipped in a grey Christ’s college sweatshirt and (trigger warning) North Face puffer”

Next day, post social, we made the hungover trek to the Mill Road charity shops in hope of discovering all the necessary tools for our metamorphosis. Chris was feebly equipped in a grey Christ’s college sweatshirt and (trigger warning) North Face puffer. Swiftly we scooped him up and dragged him through every mediocre men’s section Mill Road had to offer. Unfortunately, they did not have much to offer at all. As Eden so aptly put it: “Our makeover aspirations were made a bit harder by the sea of Superdry T-shirts and Topman chinos.” From the stained collection of oversized shirts to some questionable Minion tees, our hope was depleting faster than my shopping budget. Strong-arming us off to Salvation Army, Eden insisted we would discover the treasure trove of menswear we sought here. However much I tried to push an oversized striped tee I found, with a vision of 90s baggy jeans, bucket hats and groovy sunnies, Chris wasn’t having any of it. So off we went: one last charity shop left, one last hope.

Chris began to look a little concerned mid-shopEden Keily-Thurstain

Enter Wood Green. Giving M&S yummy-mummy boutique, I didn’t initially assume this would be our saving grace. Organised into colour coordinated rails of bougie cream jumpers and Boden style blouses, the Sidge boy vision didn’t immediately spring forth. In a miraculous moment of genius on my part, I spotted a brown suede jacket adorning a mannequin. With its similar style to the coat I myself was rocking that day, I immediately knew it would be a winner. Thankfully (praise the fashion gods) we then discovered a skinny scarf hanging next to the changing rooms. What could be more perfect? But – in disappointing news to English students everywhere – a suede jacket and a skinny scarf doesn’t constitute a whole outfit. This is where things got tricky. We didn’t have the budget to buy any of these individual pieces. We had to work with what Wood Green had. And what Wood Green had was not a lot. After some seriously dedicated trawling we eventually fell upon a gorgeous red cable knit jumper. Pair this with some questionable trousers and we sort of had a look.

Chris didn't seem to be loving the final fitIsabel Dempsey

Chucking Chris a tote bag and my headphones, he entered the changing rooms as your typical heterosexual STEM-coded gym lad, and left as a queer-coded humanities student who looks like they spend their days reading classics in artisanal cafés in an attempt to capture a Crushbridge. Before you start judging the final look with a disgusted grimace, I’ll be the first to admit it was not my finest work. But you try styling an indie boy fit in one singular charity shop and then try on your judgement for size. Yes the outfit wasn’t exactly the most cohesive. And no not all the items really fit. But I think the real issue came from Chris’ confidence in the outfit; he just looks awkward, unnatural, and crucially, unhappy. You can see the yearning for his sweatshirt in his eyes. He himself described the look as “cumbersome” with the overwhelming number of items, the impracticality of the tote bag, and the sweaty combo of scarf, jacket and jumper.


Mountain View

In defence of ‘dadcore’

And this is where we failed where the icons of Queer Eye so often succeed. Where Queer Eye is all about amping up the participant’s original look, making them become a more confident and happier version of themselves, we only succeeded in making Chris feel uncomfortable. We’d flown too close to the Sidgwick sun (which I imagine is stored somewhere in the mysterious heights of the Law Faculty building) and it was time to learn our moral lesson. With a sigh and a knowing look, we allowed Chris to de-transform from Sidge boy butterfly back to cosy crewneck caterpillar. Although he rather kindly said our fit “wasn’t too bad at all” and even admitted that he’s trying to wear more jackets and jumpers over his usual sweatshirts and puffers, ultimately he was happier as he was and that’s not something we should try and change.