The result of an hour of deliberationRuby Cline with permission for Varsity

Back in Year 1e, choosing an outfit for school took me about forty-five minutes. I was a big fan of pattern-clashing and mesh-layering, and I hated coats – you can imagine how the average December morning went for me.

I always thought it was just because I was a maximalist and it takes a while to figure out how to layer stripes and flower prints (the secret is that you can’t, by the way). The stress each morning was tiring and my feet were almost always uncomfortable because I’d never quite learnt the value of boots which actually fit, but I got joy out of my style which I never wanted to give up.

“Nobody enjoys stuffing two coats, a scarf, and a hat into your bag because you overestimated the chill of a Cambridge December”

At some point between then and the beginning of university, however, I became terrified of colour. I don’t know when or why this happened exactly but every outfit of my freshers’ week was all-black. At most I would accessorise with brown when I was feeling a bit daring.

I presumed that this forced minimalism – after all, there’s only so many black mock-neck T-shirts a girl can own – would quicken my morning routine. But somehow, despite having three rather than thirteen pairs of trousers to choose from, I was no speedier at putting together my daily look.

Even my hair was scared of colourRuby Cline with permission for Varsity

I racked my brains, I grumbled and groaned. Twenty minutes a day, each day (at least – I’m being kind to myself in this estimate) is over five full days I spent staring at my wardrobe over a year. Finally, I realised the root of the chaos.

Each day, there are a bunch of questions you’ve got to ask yourself as you get ready. What am I doing today? How cold will it be? Will it rain? Those kinds of questions. I was simply unprepared each day for the questions I needed to answer.

This was further complicated by the fact that I just feel sub-par on days I don’t like my outfit. I am my most unpleasant self in a jumper that clashes with my shoes. This means that I can’t just answer these questions with practicality, but also with style. Here were the solutions I came up with:

Am I cycling today? (Will I get a wet bum?)

An avid skirt-wearer and a proud hill resident, skirts at Sidge have always been a personal challenge. This is further complicated by my absolute hatred of squidging onto the lecture room seat when an overnight rainfall and a borderline ridiculous lack of bike-seat-cap collide in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

Solution: My September has involved some empirical research regarding which of my skirts are safe to wear on my bike, and a stunning black maxi dress I picked up this summer has done the perfect job, not floaty enough to get caught in the chain and dark enough no rain patches can humiliate me.

How many layers will need to be taken off between getting off my bike and walking into wherever I’m going?

This dress calls for intense outfit repetitionRuby Cline with permission for Varsity

Whether it’s the lecture room or the pub, nobody enjoys stuffing two coats, a scarf, and a hat into your bag because you overestimated the chill of a Cambridge December. This equation ensures that I may be slightly too cold on the way and slightly too hot while I’m there, but at least I’m not carrying a suitcase worth of layers over my arm as I do so.

Solution: I love a scarf, always have, always will, and using a hairclip as a scarf-pin has meant I can drape huge, thick scarves around me without having to hold them up, therefore acting as a whole extra layer. I have also worked out which of my thick cardigans can discreetly hide in the arms of my coats when I take them both off, meaning that it feels like I’m only carrying one layer, not two.

What is the statistical likelihood that my period will start during this day?

I am somehow always surprised. Every. Single. Month.

Solution: I have worked some magic nobody needed to see on some old, beautiful, but too-small black jeans, offering a go-to for hiding potential unfortunate staining. Black skirts and dresses work wonders for this as well, and means that even if I feel my most terrible, at least I can put a flowy skirt on.


Mountain View

Unpacking the Cambridge fresher’s wardrobe: last-minute essentials

Now I had my solutions figured out, I could start to work out some default, fail-safe outfits to pull out whenever I was in a rush. I found jumpers and jackets that I thought looked cutest with my black dress, and carefully chose the trousers that didn’t clash with my ambitious scarf looks. This means that head to toe I had the perfect outfit to hand, brilliantly solving each of the problems I had been forced to encounter when getting ready in the morning.

It’ll save you time and effort, reducing your decision fatigue for the rest of the day. And besides, it’s always fun to curate an outfit. Why not save yourself the stress of future morning styling crises?