The fashion scene in Oxford doesn’t attract much public attention. We don’t have the established legacy of a fashion show like Cambridge, or any haute couture shops – for obvious reasons. And yet, when we think of Oxonians through the fashion lens, we see three vibrant categories emerge. Through this typology, understanding the strange place that is Oxford, and its even stranger inhabitants, has never been easier.
First category: those who don’t know what looks good or bad and don’t care. They’ll probably be wearing a pink shirt under a dark green tweed jacket just like that girl you met at interview who didn’t get in. Second category: your ‘person-next-door’, those who look like they dressed up as Bob the Builder one day for school when they were five, thought it was cute and haven’t really changed style since. You’ll typically see them wearing a white Zara top under a green Zara shirt. They probably spent their summer holidays across Europe going from one friend’s house to another, networking their way through Goldman Sachs-employed parents. Their style is as bland as their personalities – although they don’t really care because they’re the kind of people who would argue that their bright career prospects are a definite alternative to a personality like yours: flamboyant and anticipating perpetual unemployment as optimistically as you can because, let’s face it, you study English.
Then you have the ones who care, enticingly enigmatic until you realise they’re really quite shallow. These people are conscious of the faux pas which those in the first category are unknowingly guilty of but rather than avoiding these no nos, they reclaim them. It’s sad to think that by competing to see who can look most edgy, they all end up looking the same. It comes to the point where the naked eye can no longer dissociate their pink socks from their yellow tops (which, let’s be honest, could as much have come from Urban Outfitters as from Octavia Foundation): it’s just one huge blob of colour, bum bags and the odd fishnet socking, like a cobweb in an abundant garden. These people go to Cellar every Thursday without exception. They live and die by Bullingdon. They have never been to a single Bridge Thursday.
Still, at the end of the day, we’re all quite jealous of these people. They may all look and sound the same, tied up in a co-dependent network of edginess which culminates in emotionally stunted debauchery at Notting Hill Carnival every year, but deep down we envy their ability to back themselves on even the most headache-inducing outfits and managing to come across as in control. As the icing on the cake the attention their clothes draw means they’re rich in a currency more valuable than the happiness, blissful fashion ignorance and career prospects of others: they get Oxloves.