Starting university is a time of huge change in anyone’s life. You’re striking it out on your own, physician learning to cope with being separated from your lifelong friends whilst also making new ones, taking on a whole new set of coursework and perhaps moving away from your family for the first time. Most of it is positive change that helps us all reach our potential. Entering my final year in UCD, I’ve been through all that and come out the other side as a whole new person, and it’s been brilliant. While those changes were expected, one thing I didn’t anticipate was my personal sense of style altering and developing during my time here.

      Let’s face it, when we’re eighteen we think we know it all, and that being trendy is paramount. Those rare jaunts to the nightclub during the Leaving Cert year were planned with military precision, and my friends and I were adamant that our clubbing outfits would be as stylish as humanly possible. The rest of our time was spent in school uniforms, pyjamas and sweatpants as the pressure of exams took over, leaving us exhausted and wondering when we’d last washed our hair. The few nights out we did have were not only occasions to unwind, but an opportunity to prove that we hadn’t lost touch with life and fashion. Whether these trends actually suited us wasn’t really an issue in our insistence on showing the world that we were more than convent schoolgirls in tartan skirts!

     Then university happened, and for the first time I was left to figure out my personal style for myself, free from the influence of my friends. Now, I was dropped into a world full of people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and dress senses. Walking around campus, I began to take notes on the looks I was seeing around me. More than ever before, I now take inspiration from people around me rather than just the pages of a magazine or from my friends. My tastes drifted away from those of my teenage years, and I began to gravitate towards more classic pieces and a simpler way of dressing. Sure, there are people around UCD who make the Arts Block look like their personal runway, which I admire them for. And on the other hand, I applaud the sweatpant wearers for putting function before form, and not letting anything stand in the way of comfort. I fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes, choosing cosy jumpers, ankle boots and skinny jeans while experimenting with more daring hairstyles and make-up looks. It’s a contradiction of sorts, but one that has most certainly been cultivated by my observations and influences.

     University will change you in so many ways, and for the better too. Use this time to experiment with fashion and develop your own personal style, as it’s such a rare moment between the uniformity of school and the formality of the working world. In other words, do it now before it’s too late!


Emily O’Brien