Student fashion: dressing for the elements



Whether you’re a southerner braving the cold at St Andrews or a Mancunian wondering where all the rain is in Cambridge, moving to university involves practical changes to your wardrobe.

Dressing for heavy rain: defying the laws of climate is a British habit

Dressing for heavy rain: defying the laws of climate is a British habit Photo: REX Features

By Ellie Pithers

12:32PM BST 31 Jul 2012



Choosing a university based on its climate would be unpatriotic. We may love to talk about the weather, but dressing to defy it is one of our most laudable traits – nothing warms the heart like the sight of hardy Geordie lasses tottering through knee-high snow in stilettos and bare legs.

If, however, contracting pneumonia, wind burn, a chest cough or some combination of the three isn’t high on your list of undergraduate priorities, follow our practical guide for dressing according to the weather at your university of choice.


Dressing for… snow

Universities most affected: Scottish institutions and Newcastle, Durham, Warwick.

Tempting as it is to show you’re no southern wimp, if you’re heading way up past the border a good quality ski jacket is essential. Make TK Maxx your first port of call for cut price jackets from good quality brands. Thermals are never sexy, but Uniqlo’s excellent HeatTech line is reasonably priced and comes in unfussy colours. Footwear-wise, wellies will keep your feet dry and are now readily available at Topshop  (who do a biker style for £30) and Clarks  (who do more classic styles from £29.99). For those feeling particularly brave, trail-blaze the return of the Timberland mountain boot, last seen on Duncan from Blue.


Dressing for… heavy rain

Universities: This is a national affliction.

As any Brit will know, no two rain showers are the same, so this category requires flexibility. Heavy rain demands maximum waterproof protection – check labels to make sure items are not merely ‘splashproof’, which means they are suitable for doing the washing up, and not much else. Those fully dedicated to staying dry should head toSports Direct  for waterproof tops and trousers; a more casual approach to climate is satisfied by the ‘cag in a bag’, otherwise known as a fold-up cagoule. Once the sole preserve of Peter Storm-sponsored rambling societies, cagoules have had a makeover for 2012. Topshop’s  navy capelet pac-a-parka is a stylish option at £20, while Topman  have hooded ‘kagools’ from £35.


Dressing for… constant drizzle

Universities: Again, drizzle is inescapable.

Headgear is highly recommended – a beret or beanie can replace a severely bad hair day with a moderately bad one instead. Superdry  has One Direction-worthy beanies from £14.99, while Accessorize  has a good range of hats from £15, available from mid-August. Try to resist the urge to get a fringe. Trench coats are great coverage for inclement weather; Topman  has a natty charcoal trench for £75 (charcoal doesn’t show the dirt as much as beige) and H&M  does cheap and cheerful checked coats from £29.99.


Dressing for… gale-force winds

Universities: Southampton, Cambridge, Edinburgh.

The gilet comes into its own in windy weather, reducing the wind chill factor while leaving your arms uninhibited – perfect for shielding your face from flying debris. Uniqlo  has ‘down’ gilets for men and women that will keep you toasty from £39.90, while ASOS  stocks Ralph Lauren, Superdry, Penfield and own label gilets in a range of price points.


Dressing for… mist and hail

Universities: Kent, Norwich, Hertfordshire.

Mist requires a hi-vis jacket (and bike lights if you’re a cyclist) while hail calls for a hard hat. The good news is that both of these novelty items can be adapted for fancy dress themes, so will be well worth the investment. B&Q  have a bargainous hi-vis waistcoat for £4.98  have an overwhelming selection of hard hats starting at the £5 mark.


Dressing for… sun

Universities: Sussex, Exeter (well, if you’re very lucky).

The secret to dealing with British sun is to layer up – it won’t stay warm for long. Scarves are a lifesaver when a large cloud plunges you back into autumnal climes, and also double as picnic blankets. Zara  has maxi scarves in cheery prints from £19.99. Sunglasses are also necessary hangover survival tools, but don’t bother in investing in expensive Ray-Bans, as you’ll only lose them on a night out when you’re channelling Biggie Smalls. H&M  have the best selection and the cheapest price tags.




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