Every August something a little strange happens. I still feel a little twinge of fear when all of the Back To School signs start popping up in supermarkets. But there was always one saving grace in that pre-term preparation and it came in the form of being kitted out with a new uniform. Sure, a pleated skirt falling well below the knee and a new school badge-embroidered jumper was hardly a strong sartorial affair (unless it’s an of-the-moment metallic skirt and the school badge is an ironic riff on this season’s embroidered-patch trend), but it was something to get a little excited over. And as you change schools, go to 6th Form and University, dress codes disappear and you have free reign on creating your own style. Forget back to school blues, new term = new wardrobe. Uniforms are no longer dictated by teachers: you’re free to create your own rules, developing your signature style. It’s about creating your own personal uniform. Plus, it’s the perfect time to cement your status on campus and make the right impression from lecture theatre to the bar, post-essay hand-in.
Topshop has long been my place to pick up new term essentials. Being the crown jewel of the British high street, it throws down an edit of everything you could possibly need, from punchy and playful T-shirts, fuss-free denim, and neat tailored pieces (well, we may be students but there certainly will be a time that calls for a chic blouse!) It’s a store many of us have grown up with, so was naturally always the starting place for building my new term wardrobe all throughout both college and university. Plus, with 10% student discount all year round, it helps make things even easier for a loan-friendly budget.
My signatures? Playful, feminine, with a slight retro edge. When creating the perfect new term wardrobe, my must-haves are always built of about 50% basics, 50% trend-led pieces.
This striped top is from the Topshop Boutique range, but with a price tag of £35 it’s a steal. It’s cut from a cosy, quality fabric, meaning it’ll last season on season not just for it’s versatility, but construction too, and the classic pattern is elevated with polka dots to break up the stripes. A denim dress that functions as a pinafore is a serious win-win. It’s the type of piece that can be layered all autumn/winter with roll-necks and striped tops, then styled solo with sandals in summer. Plus, it’ll still hold its own sans top in the SU on more casual night outs. I’ve never really been a trainers girl, but you want something that’ll look chic, stylish, and still stay comfortable as you’re walking from lecture to lecture. Mid-heel ankle boots will never fail to hit the right note, and the trailing florals across this pair are a nod at this season’s embroidery trend. The final piece? A simple black bag to throw into the new term equation. Made from real leather and cut into a versatile silhouette, this bag has serious staying power and you’ll be pushed to find an outfit that it won’t go with.
Photography by Rebecca Spencer