Fashion and beauty are undoubtedly an essential aspect of St. Andrews culture; I was hesitant at first considering my fashion sense is entirely cultivated from Pinterest boards and my flatmate’s closets. However, as a fresher, I still felt intimidated by the intense fashion presence amongst the school. I believe being a girl, fashion is imposed on us from a young age. There are endless options, and the outfits you wear lock you in a box and justify your status. And then your body changes, and boom, you have to figure out your body type and what the hell would look good on you.

I used to think it was all pretty stupid and resorted to hoodies and sweatpants until I started seeing what a cute shirt and tight jeans did to my confidence. Through my self-discovery, I have found fashion to be not a means of society putting you in a box but rather discovering your own identity. Every decade has had its trends, but I would say now, as we revisit flare jeans and chunky heels, fashion is whatever you want it to be because it is a part of who you are, instead of a means for fitting in.

Last year, my roommate gave me a new insight into how I view fashion; I found it interesting watching her try on about seven different outfits before grabbing a pint at The Rule. I asked her why, and her answer was, “fashion is how I effectively portray myself, and that’s important to me.” I realized then that’s exactly what writing does for me; it gives me an outlet to convey what I stand for, how I feel, and who I am, so while a pen and paper is my form of self-expression, clothing is hers, and they change simultaneously to reflect our passions and interests.

I also think the fashion industry has made extreme strides towards making a positive impact in the world. Sustainable fashion is a prominent topic in the fashion industry; it has pushed brands to produce high-quality eco-friendly collections such as Lucy & Yak, House of Sunny, and Pangaea. Additionally, social media has increased our awareness of these brands and changed how we view fashion and body types. Small ethical businesses can also increase their platform through posting about their work.

Looking specifically at St. Andrews, FS and Don’t Walk not only push the fashion barriers but give back to the community, raising money for local, national, and global organisations that are fighting inequalities. Having friends involved in these fashion shows has changed my view of fashion from unimportant to a crucial aspect of our world. Self-expression is much more than just saying who you are and what you believe in; it’s practicing and conveying who you are and becoming that which is achievable through fashion. Additionally, the model industry is redefining the beauty standard, which is reflected here at St Andrews fashion shows, incorporating models of different races, sizes, and sexualities. The standard isn’t being a Victoria Secret model; it’s being confident in who you are and what you wear.

Although intimidated at first, I am thankful for the fashion influence that is so present at St. Andrews, because it has given me a far greater appreciation and education of fashion.