As I pointed out yesterday in “The rise and fall of fashion in Universities part one”, University is a time when one has the freedom to invent a new self, far from home, school and past embarrassing stories. It is therefore of the utmost importance to make a very strong first impression to carve this new personality into fellow flatmates and classmates and bystanders’ minds , as, however strongly we like to believe we’re mature adults, University students judge a book by its cover more than anyone else.

The first and maybe only chance you’ll have to give a good first impression is during fresher’s week. This initiation week is perhaps the most important one of your University life, and that end of September madness comes at a certain price, whether that price should be mental or physical. During this week, one strives to dress to impress, whilst carefully trying to remain humble and open.

Image: Jil Sander S/S 12 campaign

Sloppiness and pompousness has, in the past, relegated more than one to an apparent friendlessness, at least for the first few weeks of the year.

As far as I am aware, there are three different major events during fresher’s week, each of which has its own specific rules and attributed attires: First day, first night out and, God bless board games, first night in. As I said before, University is made of dozens of different look, and the following advices are in no way exhaustive. It is better to do your own thing, only going back to this guide if you hesitate on a certain item, or are uncertain of what will go best for a specific occasion.

Moving in your new room, you will meet your flatmates for the first time, and as you are likely to be spending a lot of time with them during the first few weeks of your University life, you want to make a good impression. However, a move is messy, and practical clothes are needed. With this in mind, it is necessary to mix effortless chic with practicality. I say effortless, as trying to hard will definitely be seen as a sign of self-consciousness, or worse, arrogance. For a man, this means Jeans (not baggy, obviously) or chinos and a nice T-shirt (avoid the stained Sunday one or the 6th form graduation bags we get given at the end of the year.) A shirt might do, as long as the sleeves are rolled up and the cut isn’t formal. You might want to draw inspiration from JFK’s boating look.

JFK boating look

As for women, I’d advise a pair of your nicest jeans, as skirts and dresses are far too impractical, a black top to avoid dirt showing, and a scarf to give it a more edgy look. Knowing the British weather, a black leather jacket might be your best friend, as it is warm, cool and practical.

The night of arrival, or the night after, should be your first night out as a University student. Such fun! All these people meeting, making friends, exchanging numbers, laughing (sometimes awkwardly), falling, dancing, drinking… Amongst all this excitement, it can be easy to forget that all these people you are meeting are likely to be judging you just as much as you might be judging them, weighting the pros and cons of becoming your friend. It is therefore important to dress accordingly. For men, this means avoiding a suit at all costs and settling for a solid pair of black jeans and a nice shirt, in order to keep it simple, clean yet more formal than a moving-in outfit. Women, on the other hand, have a more elaborate code of dressing in clubs, and it can sometimes be difficult to avoid a faux pas. First of all, it is important, to remember that English girls and women have a… let’s say different way of dressing up to go out. The easiest way to blend in is to wear a nice tight dress (not to nice, as it might get stained), avoiding the incredibly short style some Londoners are used to, as one does not want to be tagged as having discussable morals. Moreover, being in a relationship should not stop anyone from having fun, but a longer dress might make people a little more clued on to the fact that you’re not available.

Lastly, the first night in. This might follow the first night out, as sitting in front of the TV with a mug of tea is one of the best hang-over cures known to humanity. For this occasion, guys should stick with jeans and a T-shirt (Remember, the Fashion Goddess HATES trackies), whilst girls might want to wear comfortable pyjamas (if Jack Wills does one thing well, it’s PJs). Avoid mini-shorts; after all, you only just met your flatmates.

In conclusion: Nothing too short, nothing too fancy, NO TRACKIES. And if you’re really lost and think that your own look, however great it is, might be too risqué for your first University days I’ve made a small collection of fresher’s week easiest looks. Good luck!

What to wear for Fresher’s week: women

Moving in:
women freshers week outfit

Leather jacket at Asos; scarf from Van Mildert; Vest at Topshop

First night out:
university what to wear out

Heels at Boohoo, dress from Asos

First night in:
girls what to wear on campus

Pyjamas from Gilly Hicks

What to wear to fresher’s week: men

Moving In:
men fresher's week clothes

Jeans at H & M; belt at Ted Baker; T-shirt at Debenhams; shoes at Office

First night out:
mens going out clothes uni

Shirt at Superdry; chinos at Debenhams

First night in:
mens night campus clothes

T-shirt from Armani

Read more of this series

  1. University fashion: trends & influences
  2. What to wear to Fresher’s week
  3. Following fashion on a student budget
  4. A short study on expendable fashion
  5. Preppy vs Sporty
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