I am writing this article from home in the middle of nowhere. For some, moving from Cambridge reintroduces them to the much faster world of Manchester or London. Others to similarly large cities or towns. And for people like me to sleepy villages with an average age of residents somewhere above the retirement age. Today my outfit consists of a simple gray top and my favorite jeans. In Cambridge I would consider it a ‘match’. What I wear when I’m sick, sad, or tired—I don’t go anywhere and do nothing but lock myself in the library and force myself to finish that essay. It’s not quite a Sidgwick-showstopper, but it’s what most of my holiday wardrobe looks like.
I live in the middle of nowhere with no driver’s license, terrible public transport and one friend within walking distance, I don’t get out much during the holidays. I can imagine that for those who live in London, their wardrobe doesn’t change that much; in the big city there are a number of fashionable people who impress with their haircuts. While I don’t think the two dog walkers I could risk meeting on a village walk ever thought about the outfit I created that day.
“It’s not quite Sidgwick’s, but it’s what most of my holiday wardrobe looks like”
Of course I shouldn’t dress just to impress. Shouldn’t my style always stay the same no matter who sees it? Is it not that I stay true to myself? But it’s not really that simple. At home, I feel the need to save my good clothes for the rare occasion that I actually run away from my village, even if it’s just to ensure my fits get the accolades they deserve. When I put on one of my favorite outfits in front of my family, they ask me why I’m dressed like that, because apparently my parents generally agreed that people can’t dress up just for the fun of it. . But when I dress up, it’s not because I’m looking for my family’s approval. When I’m holed up at home all day, it makes sense to wear the warmest and most comfortable thing I can find. Yes, you should always wear what you feel good in, but that changes with context.
In Cambridge, I sometimes prioritize style over comfort because I want people on the Sidgwick Site to think I’m as cool as they are (and because, of course, I want someone to send Crushbridge about me). I am constantly comparing myself to others at university – and not just in academia. Even though I think I picked a pretty good outfit for the day, I’m still not the best dressed person in the English auditorium. My home clothes might not make me feel like the cool Pinterest girl I’m trying to be, but there’s a certain comfort in not having to live up to some unattainable standard. I know not everyone feels the same pressure to treat Sidge as their runway, but cool clothes certainly have significant social points in the Cambridge sphere. And while it’s futile to say, as someone who has never considered himself a “cool” person, I love winning these points.
“Yes, you should always wear what you feel good in, but that changes with the context”
My one friend from the village could definitely have been a Sidgwick icon in another life – she’ll wear perfectly executed eyeliner and bold lipstick even on days when she can’t see a single soul. However, it is very rare that I get the urge to do the same. And yet, thanks to her, I don’t realize that I wear my favorite clothes around the village when I’m in the rare mood (apparently the opinions of the local aging conservatives don’t really matter!). Even if I’m just leaving the house for relatively mundane reasons, if I see people who might appreciate my fits, it’s nice to make a little effort. Because dressing up is fun, even if the old folks from the village of Dedham or the tracksuit-wearing youngsters from the town of Colchester won’t quite appreciate it as much as the girls from Sidgwick.
The person I am at home and the person I am in Cambridge lead very different lives, so it’s only natural that my wardrobe reflects that. I don’t have the energy to dress every day at home like I do when I’m away because it’s not necessary. However, in Cambridge I find the process of getting dressed really fun, which makes me feel good. Dress up or dress down – neither option is more comfortable and true than the other. They just meet different needs.
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