So you’re a Fresher, you’ve been here a week or so and you’ve probably started to notice something about good old Queen Mary. People are different here, they don’t dress like you’re used to. There’s a lot more plaid than in your part of Milton Keynes. Men are hairier around the facial region than they are in your neck of Birmingham. No-one shows too much enthusiasm, in fact you haven’t seen a smile from a Second Year since the first Monday’s Calling. You really aren’t sure what’s going on, but everyone keeps scowling at your GAP cable knit jumper.
You’re probably confused, alone and sick of Miley Cyrus.
Fear not, young Fresher, because help is at hand in the form of CUB’s very own style guide. Call it your “Q-Niform”, and get cracking right away.
Forget jeans. Jeans are boring. Rihanna wears jeans for goodness sake. Go for something edgy, something that shouldn’t be made of denim.
If you aren’t ready to dive straight in, try a sleeveless jacket. Grey is acceptable but dark blue, stone wash is better. Also, make sure its buttons are really grubby, no shine at all. You’ve got to pretend you grew up in a squat somewhere in the Midlands if you’re going to fit in. In fact, just after you buy the jacket, give it to your dog or youngest sibling as a play thing for a week – it’ll come out looking just the part.
If you’re a little bit more confident go for denim pockets on a plain shirt, a denim wristband, or go the whole hog and pair denim with denim. Double denim is no longer reserved for Britney and J-T in Las Vegas. Match your baggy jeans to a denim shirt. Heck, forget double, triple is better, jacket that shit and be the coolest kid at QM.
Do NOT be seen without something hanging out of your ear/nose/left eyelid. It should be big enough that everyone can see it across the Bancroft building but not too flashy, you don’t want to look like you’re trying.
As with denim, one usually isn’t enough. Imagine it’s Christmas (but don’t tell anyone you partake in such a mainstream holiday) and that you’re the tree. You want to be as baubled as possible. You want to look like Grandma has gone to town on you. Your face should be a minefield of metal. If you aren’t aiming to set off an airport alarm, then you haven’t gone far enough.
Finally, if you can, get something religious – a cross works well. Make sure everyone knows this is ironic and that you actually despise all religions as the root of evil (also known as Miss Selfridge.) Combining this symbol with so much jangling metal, you should remind people of church bells afterwards.
If your hair is brown, dye it. You don’t want to risk looking genetically related to anyone if you’re trying to create a reclusive/edgy/lost child look. Brown hair does not cultivate mystery.
Pastel shades are good, yellow (sometimes called off-blonde), blue and the QM favourite, a streak of green. If anyone questions you, tell them you’re going for Chameleon-chic. To emphasise this look, always look glassy eyed and utterly bored. If a smile tries to creep itself onto your face then bite your tongue as hard as possible. Not only will you wince but after a while, your mouth will be so inflamed that you’ll develop an interesting new accent. Having a voice which is hard to place is perfect, as you can tell fellow students you grew up partly in Geneva, partly on Easter Island rather than at that boarding school in Surrey Daddy paid for.
This is the key part of the Queen Mary look. Without irony, everything else just doesn’t work. You can’t be a six foot, denim clad, jangling mess enveloped in a neon ponytail without a sense of irony. Irony is cool. Irony is chic. Irony is perfection.
No matter who scoffs at you, no matter how many times people accuse you of having a silver spoon in your mouth or tell you to take off the coconut you’re wearing as a hat, you can always claim that it’s ironic. Irony is your shield, no one can question what’s clearly meant to be a statement on Postmodern art and the pastiche that is society without seeming stupid and lacking in a sense of humour.
Irony will get you through those dark nights you cuddle your Che Guevera pillow alone. Irony will hold you tight whilst you’re acting bored at somebody’s house party which electro-folk plays subtly in the background. Irony will be there for you, throughout, even when you’re sipping your half-chai, half no-foam soy latte with a dash of lime cordial.
Go for irony, and if it ever fails you, then tell people you were inspired by Alexander McQueen and the water fountain in Arts One.
And there you have it, how to dress like a QM student. If you run out of ideas then try a little acid wash or update your outfit with a classic Rough Trade bag. But don’t forget the golden rule: Try hard, but don’t look like you are.