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Katrina Williams is approaching campus fashion from a new perspective post-pandemic

The pavements of Glasgow Uni’s West End campus have historically been packed to the brim with fashion-conscious students. Back in those glorious pre-pandemic days when we had a strict ten-minute changeover between lectures (yet another thing you took from me, Zoom), my first-year commute from the Boyd Orr to the Gilmorehill Halls was a weave between high-waisted mom-jeans and thrifted knitwear.

I was so intimidated by it all at the time. I remember staring in awe at those bottle-dyed heads bobbing up and down under the muggy Glasgow sky, astounded at how easily everyone seemed to have found their own style – which, to 17-year-old me, remained completely elusive. But now I look back on it with a chuckle for two reasons. Firstly, because I know that those same third and fourth years whose boldness I found so amazing as a fresher most likely threw that crazy colour over their scalps in an impulsive rush in the hours before a night out, and secondly, because I do the same thing every month or so over my bathroom sink in order to retain my sketchy home-dyed black hair. And to think I once said I’d never dye it because I was scared of losing my curls!

University tends to be a place where you just fall into things. Bumping into someone at the library leads to a long night of drinking later on. Getting lost on your way to a lecture means you end up finding a great group of mates. It was the same for me and fashion – I picked up pieces here and there from campus vintage sales, city centre outlets, so on and so forth. But there was one thing that held me back – a lack of urgency.

When you’re a student, all the way up until that last rush to get your dissertation finished, university feels as if it’s going to last forever. You live your life strutting through the West-End with a pair of rose-tinted glasses, happy in the knowledge that the campus is your playground for all those years to come.

But then Covid-19 hit, and everything changed.

Suddenly, at the tail-end of my second year, I was locked up inside, bemoaning myself for my wasted potential. I had been lazy with my fashion. For me, there had been no overnight glow-up, but two stagnant years of biding my time. I can turn out an amazing outfit next week, I had thought. For now, I’ll just turn up to my 9am in another snuggly (yet extraordinarily ugly) sweater and bide my time until the next night out.

But – shock and horror - next week was no more! For the rest of that semester, and all throughout my third year, I realised, like many others, that I had been taking those style opportunities completely for granted. To my complete embarrassment, I hadn’t even bothered with teaching myself how to do eyeliner - at the ripe old age of 20.

Yet, deep in that muddy pond of self-pity, something glimmered. Though the pandemic may have taken away pretty much every normal thing in my life, it did give me something I never would have had otherwise: time. Months of and months of it led me to find that style of my own that I’d always envied in other people. I figured out what I liked and what suited me from TikTok, Instagram and copious amounts of online shopping. I began to value those occasional days I actually got to leave the house and show my newfound fashion off. And yes, dear reader, I figured out eyeliner, even if I was about five years too late.

Now, as we approach a new semester, and the start of my final year, we’re also hopefully heading back to normalcy. And, with normalcy, comes those 9am classes I always used to dread. That was the old me. This time around, I’ll be putting my best foot forward, no matter if it costs me an extra half an hour of sleep.

I’ve got one more year here, and, my God, I’ll be damned if I don’t milk it for all that it’s worth.

Personally, I’d honestly be surprised if the majority of the student body doesn’t follow in my footsteps. We’ve been locked up inside for over a year now, after all. I want to see fantastic fashion filing up and down University Avenue, stupendous style in each and every lecture hall – and everywhere on campus, in the West End, all over Glasgow!

But, then again… there is nothing better than the feeling of a cosy pair of slippers warming your feet during a late-night library study sesh. Similarly, nothing can beat your comfiest pair of joggers in a mid-morning seminar after a whirlwind, hangover-inducing night out …

… To be honest, now that I think about it, I’ll probably end up in that 9am with an ugly sweater at least once or twice.


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