When I think about occasions when fashion was important to me, I only really remember outfits that made me feel self-conscious in some way. The day that came to mind was my first (and only) pier walk here at St Andrews – very fitting given the timing of this post. I remember wearing dark blue skinny jeans, a tight, three-quarter-sleeve Breton top, and heeled, brown and black booties – all of this, of course, under my freshly purchased red gown.
Two things jump out at me now, in retrospect:
1. I vastly underestimated the power of a Scottish September sun, the heat of which was
only magnified by my heavy, woollen undergrad gown (it was a sweat-fest, very glam),
2. That outfit was so definitely not me.
Both the Breton top and the booties were bought in the lead-up to uni, so as an overexcited and impressionable high school graduate obsessively refreshing various Facebook groups (yes, I wrote an intro post, but I like to convince myself that I kept it short and free of photos. Please don’t check to make sure.) and scrolling into the depths of The Saint, The Tribe, Owl Eyes, and this very blog’s Instagram feed.
In spite, or maybe because, of the sheer depth of my style-centred research (I’m talking some 2011 content), the image that stuck in my mind’s eye was that which most outsiders have of St Andrews students: Hunter boots, Barbours, and, well, Breton stripes (all of which, might I note, is far less common than it apparently was in 2011. Go figure!). The gown was an equally dazed purchase made out of excitement and, like the booties, was taken out of my closet only one other time: as a blanket for me to use when my duvets were in boxes before this summer, a year and a half after its debut appearance.
In the months leading up to uni I was so excited to fit in that every item of clothing I bought was judged on how ‘St Andrews’ it was. Was I a keen bean? Lil bit. Did I forget I wasn’t actually Kate Middleton? Seems impossible, but yes. I was very much lacking chill (very in character for me).
The day of the pier walk to me was the start of a new chapter (cheesy and overused, I know), where I told myself I would succeed not by trying to adapt to other people (high school trauma, whoops), but by being myself (got there eventually), which that outfit didn’t exactly symbolise. I was busy trying to reinvent myself. Classic. But hey, hindsight, right?