… would there be such excitement about a new shop. The much-anticipated new H&M arrived this Thursday. Rumours had abounded for months about what would fill the shell of NISA and whether it would last longer than the short-lived supermarket. Whispers that it was H&M started and were confirmed on asking a builder outside, who seemed bemused by our excitement.
If you’re not familiar with St Andrews, then let me fill you in. Whilst our quaint little town is full of cute indpendent little shops and boutiques full of gorgeous individual pieces. However there’s nowhere here aside from New Look (and maybe Superdry) to buy basics, or fairly-priced trend driven pieces. Of course we love to support the local shops and they have many unique pieces but until now St Andrews was sorely lacking in typical “fashiony” High Street Shops.
When I first heard H&M was coming I was initially a bit worried. Firstly for the sake of my bank balance and secondly because as I predicted, you only had to see how few pieces (in odd sizes) were left this Thursday in order to know that come Friday at the Bop or Lizard everyone will be wearing the exact same outfit.
However I am still very excited that it’s here and picked up a couple of things I’ll be blogging about in the next few days. I don’t understand why it’s taken so long to have a High Street heavyweight like this in our town. Of course I support the local shops and think there is so much fashion talent here. Maybe it’s boring of me to sometimes crave a look around H&M or Topshop but I am on a student budget after all!
The shop itself is a great mix of H&M’s different ranges; there’s really something for everyone there. A well-balanced pick of basics that they’re great for such as jumpers and tees, and trend pieces such as lace dresses, tribal print hareems and minimal jumpsuits. I just hope they get their new stock in on a regular basis or everyone really will be wearing the same thing.
Can’t wait for Lanvin x H&M too (again another post to follow!), but sadly it’s not coming to St Andrews or even EDINBURGH! Not impressed H&M, but luckily it’s available online. If anyone’s wondering what to get me for Christmas they know where to look…
Even the empty shell of H&M caused a lot of excitement
I’m loving this style of chunky boyfriend oversized cardigan. Funnily enough, this boyfriend cardi was bought by my boyfriend for my birthday this year. He has very good taste and it was a good present as it’s on the pricier side so I probably wouldn’t have got it for myself even though I’d lusted after it in the shop. The dusky pink colour adds a feminine touch to the mannish cut and it is soo strokable! I absolutely love Urban Outfitters but it’s way too pricey for regular visits. That said now it’s in Edinburgh whenever I’m home it’s hard to stay away from it!
The shorts are UO too, you can’t really tell from the picture but they’re black cord. They’re from the vintage range and are such a wardrobe hard worker, effortlessly stylish and make whatever you wear look instantly up-to-date. They are great for channeling the heritage trend without going all out in Yah-style barbour/ tweed combo. You can tell the Yahs of St Andrews are a bit smug right now as they’re accidentally being trendy, but it’s so obviously their uniform that it’s not genuinely stylish.
I contrasted the boyish cardigan with this lacy cream Topshop top and the waist-emphasising shorts. The top’s sheer with little sparkles over it but I wore a black top underneath for decency’s sake! It’s actually cute and floaty but I tucked it in as it didn’t look right with the high-waisted shorts. Worn with my brogues and slouchy cardigan keeps it dressed down for an easy daytime look.
The pocket-watch necklace adds a touch of fun, I’m lusting after Marc Jacobs’ kooky watch necklaces but now different versions are all over the highstreet. I like the chunky chain and big watch face with the embossed detailing on the back, sadly its battery has ran out though.
Lace top: Topshop
Black vest: Primark
… is a dinner suit standard attire for a night out.
Duchamp bow tie
St Andrews has a very busy social calendar and is famed for the regularity, and popularity, of its balls. Sadly less Cinderella and ballroom dancing (the obvious exception being the ballroom society ball); more an excuse to dress up and rave in a tent or old University building. There’s more or less a ball every other weekend in term time, ranging from free to £100 for a ticket, and even more during “Ball season” that extends from December to March when every hall of residence and society has a ball to celebrate something or other. Some are better than others, my favourite being the free ball when I was in halls that gave away free ice cream from famous gelato emporium Janetta’s (my favourite flavour being Irn Bru sorbet).
Then there’s the infamous Kate Kennedy balls, the more expensive and exclusive balls St Andrews has to offer. Their annual May Ball (tickets £40 to £100 – with commensurate variance in both availability and quality of experience) is the St Andrean equivalent of the College Balls at Oxbridge. Despite significant marketing efforts exclaiming it to be the classiest event of the year, often these end with a significant number of people being sick in bushes, or stumbling around in the field next to Kinkell Byre (a weatherproof barn in the middle of nowhere that plays host to many balls). It’s usually a very good night, though maybe not worth the price or the hype; the hall balls are far more friendly affairs, and you don’t have to start queuing at ridiculous hours of the day to get tickets for them.
The dress code is always black tie, but some people (the minority) like to interpret this as jeans and a T-shirt. The ball I went to last week called “The Golden Middle” to support the half way point of our degrees was black tie, but there was generally a poor effort from the males. Most guys I know love the excuse to wear a suit or kilt though, and all look very dapper. There’s something about putting on a suit that I think makes them feel a bit like they could do anything.
The girls also interpret the dress code in varying degrees and diverse fashion. Most just wear what they would normally on a night out, a nice dress and heels. It is always surprising to see the less style-conscious, jean-loving friends donning dresses and nice shoes and again I think they feel a sense of freedom in doing something so different, that perhaps we’ll seldom do as graduates and “grown ups”. I think that St Andrews’ balls are the events where everyone looks the most stylish, as a town where the general dressing is casual and practical (if expensive) I always look forward to people-watching and appraising the fashion talent on show.
Something that’s always interested me about how people dress is who they are dressing for. As the new year begins in St Andrews, it’s been interesting to observe how the Freshers’ initial looks begin to adapt.
Of course there’s something natural about changing your image when you get to a new place. University can be a fresh start, you’re (usually) meeting people who you don’t know and more importantly don’t know you, there’s an opportunity to totally reinvent yourself. Usually “changing image” has positive connotations- something that makes you stand out, say having a haircut after a break-up. However when you’re in the melting pot of social pressures and newfound independence this change of image can be in a very different guise. People seem to be so scared by the endless possibilities of who they could be, particularly in the way they present themselves to the world by their style, that they tend to play it safe and at times strategically.
Take St Andrews and the stereotypical Yah style I’ve told you about. At first, they all look different- with the odd pair of Hunters or tweed jacket thrown in for luck. Gradually they see what the “look” is “meant” to be and then suddenly they’re wearing it all together, with a Longchamp bag and messy backcombed hair. Nothing wrong with such items individually, in fact living somewhere like St Andrews a pair of good wellies such as Hunters are pretty much a wardrobe essential in the often bleak weather. I have small feet so I got a kids pair in the sale for about £30 and have worn them to death. Worn simultaneously and you’ve got your classic Yah ensemble.
I think a lot of it is about safety in numbers, you see groups of people dressed the same wherever you are, the Yah look in St Andrews is just one example. It’s easier to play it safe than try to make a statement that (shock horror) someone might not like. I think it’s natural to feel like this, and it would be a massive lie if I said I never felt that pressure. However with time you learn to just please yourself. I buy pretty things if I like them, not because they fit a certain “look”. If you dress for other people then you can never genuinely be comfortable in your own look. So why not embrace your inner flamboyance, wear that mad hat and dance to your own tune? What’s the worst that can happen?
I was sitting in my living room this evening when two yahs passed the window – I kid not- looking as if they were dressed to go hunting. The full shebang- tweed jacket, red hunting jacket, tweet plus fours, deer stalker hats, complete with matching pipes.
And they weren’t being ironic.
As if they hadn’t offended my eyes enough they stopped to stare right into the window (probably getting their snob on) but before I’d had a chance to open the window and say “Tallyho! The fox went that way!” a chav passed saying “y’awright mate?” and they quickly scarpered.
Chav- 1; Yahs- 0
…the first of a series of posts about my beloved Bubble*. Observations about our
strange and wonderful world and the people in it, in particular the unexpected fashion scene.
Three separate groups of people have just passed my window, all wearing variations on the same outfit:
Burberry-style trench, jeggings, black flats.
Barbour jacket, T-shirt, tights, Uggs.
Double breasted trench, jeggings, sandals.
Oh and “Beardy Ponytail Man” but he passes at the same time every day wearing the same tweedy jacket and blue jumper.
This is the St Andrews daywear uniform, alternated with Hunters and baggy jumpers. Alone these items are of course fine, but worn together and you’ve got the classic St Andrews Yah look. A stereotype perhaps, but you only have to look around to see the truth in it. Fitting with A/W’s heritage and outdoorsy trends they may be, but this is a conscious decision to define themselves with a certain look. The uniform allows them to easily spot likeminded Yahs and maintain safety in numbers.
St Andrews does host some of the best balls and parties around (though often just a rave in a tent with posh clothes). I will document more of these outfits as St Andrews style kudos is most noticeable at such events.
Pics to follow soon.
*for non-St Andreans, this is how we residents refer to our 0therworldly little town