It’s difficult to be a fashionable student. I mean fashionable in a very narrow sense – as defined by following the trends and constantly updating your wardrobe in order to stay on the fashion treadmill of seasonal change. I know I don’t adapt my wardrobe every time A/W shifts to S/S, most of the time I’m too caught up in the frenzy of Oxford life to even know what date it is, let alone whether I should be wearing stripes or polka dots.
The point is being fashionable in this sense requires more money and more time than the average student here has – and even if we did have those in unlimited quantities, if you walked into a lecture wearing clothes straight from the catwalk you’d probably be shamed into leaving. But there’s an easier way to feel smug in the knowledge that you are, indeed, being fashionable – in all senses of the word – without spending a small fortune or drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. And that’s by injecting little bits of fashion happiness into your life through the medium of beauty.
Now that we’re comfortably settled in to the new year, some pretty obvious beauty trends are emerging. One of the prominent of these for this season (if not even for the whole year) is statement nails – but, let’s be honest, you’ve probably seen this one coming. However, even after the Chanel limited editions, reverse manicures and WAH Nails obsession of last year, there is yet more drama waiting for you in 2013. Nail studs, concrete polish, lace overlays, feather textures and kitschy patterns are all doing the rounds of the catwalks, beauty blogs and red carpets, and while these may not be entirely feasible in the cold light of mid-Hilary there are several ways you can tone them down for a more wearable look. Ring finger accents can make an otherwise dull manicure entirely more interesting; nude colours are a nod to the pale trends of this season; and if you’re feeling brave, nail art pens are surprisingly easy to use to achieve looks ranging from Aztec to retro to minimalist. Also, even if being ‘fashionable’ doesn’t sway you into testing this trend out, hopefully anticipating your tutor’s reaction to the metre-thick nail art on your fingers will.
The other big trend popping up this season is far more low-maintenance and subtle. Natural makeup is a nice compromise between the dramatic lips and smoky eyes of the festive period and the detox-and-gym death mask look of the beginning of the new year. The key words for this trend are glowing, healthy and fresh, and the focus is more on creating a great base to enhance rather than trowelling foundation over flaws. That doesn’t mean that natural makeup’s boring, or even product-free: think tinted moisturiser instead of high-coverage foundation, highlighter on the cheekbones and subtle rosy blush on the apples of your cheeks, neat and defined eyebrows, lashings of mascara, gentle colour or gloss on your lips – and a killer skincare routine.
So the next time you’re feeling like you’re in a fashion rut – and don’t have the money, patience or energy for a shopping spree – don’t despair. If you’re high-maintenance, get to a nail bar, some trashy online retailer, or the Essie section at Boots; if you’re more of a wash-and-go kind of person, think fresh, glowing and healthy, streamline your daily skincare and makeup routine and invest in some high-quality blusher. Being a fashionable student doesn’t have to rely on obsessively following the catwalks or investing a huge amount of money in clothes every term. Plus spending ten minutes or so focusing on something as ridiculous as nail art can be a welcome escape from (and a valuable means of retaining your sanity under) the pressures of Oxford life.