FRESHERS’ WEEK: The ultimate university shopping list!

So, you’ve made it into Oxford University. Congratulations. You are the intellectual crème de la crème, the apple of your parents’ adoring eyes, the – dare we say it? – favoured child (for now, at least). For your information and enjoyment, here is The Oxford Student’s ultimate university shopping list accompanied with our tried and tested fashion editors’ picks. Read on to avoid any Freshers’ Week faux pas or sartorial mishaps (remember Elle Woods in Legally Blonde or Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl, anyone?) come October. After all, you’ll have enough to worry about. Enjoy.


 lucinda toole emily bootle laura kennedy


… And no, we’re not talking about your one-night stand from Freshers’ Week who sticks around like the smell of, well, Freshers’ Week.

ultimate university shopping list

Lucinda: Nail geek-chic with a Herschel backpack (£55) – and fit your entire reading list snug inside!

Emily: Aldo bags are durable and this classic university bag (£38) could last you your whole degree.

Laura: If you thought catwalk-worthy handbags were reserved for the graduated and the employed, think again.  Make the high street your runway with Zara’s leather handbag (£120) … all for the small cost of entry to 24 club nights. Perspective is a beautiful thing.


If you invest in nothing else from our ultimate university shopping list, make sure you purchase a warm winter coat. You really don’t want to be that student using the ‘But it was so cold …’ line when attempting to explain to your tutor why you failed to attend a single lecture during Michaelmas. (At least think of a better excuse.)

 ultimate university shopping list

Lucinda: Go for a Zara parka (£64) – stylish, but ever so practical.

Emily: With this ASOS over-sized parka (£80) you can look great, feel like you’re in bed this winter.

Laura: Let’s face it; come November, your coat will be all anyone sees of you – during the day, anyway… You might as well invest in a statement piece like this Topshop biker coat (£89).


Repeat after me: one is never underdressed or overdressed in a little black dress. Or so said the great Karl Lagerfeld. And who are we to argue with him?


Lucinda: This American Apparel velvet black dress (£39) will never let you down. Just watch out for strangers stroking your soft velvety arms…

Emily: Trust me, this Urban Outfitters dress (£58) deserves a spot on any university shopping list. It really is an all-season, all-occasion winner.

Laura: Never underestimate the importance of owning a fool-proof LBD  like this AQ/AQ mini dress (£56) that will take you from geek to chic in ten seconds flat (okay, well maybe thirty). You can thank me when you need to escape from the murky depths of the college library, shower, change, and dig out that bottle of vodka – all in under 10 minutes. Phew.


Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. With these kick-ass winter boots, anything is possible. Even risking hell and high water trampling through the snow to make it to your 9am lecture the morning after Bridge.

 best winter boots

Lucinda: If any item on our university shopping list deserves a splash out before you condemn yourself to the hell of student budgeting, it’s a good pair of Office brown lace up boots (£75). They’ll see you through the whole year.

Emily: Who doesn’t love a good pair of brogues? These Russell and Bromley ankle boots (£195) are guaranteed to help you survive the cold winter months.

Laura: So the chunky heel may not win these Topshop boots (£80) any awards for ‘most practical shoe’, but if Victoria Beckham “can’t concentrate in flats”, neither can you.


A quintessentially Oxonian tradition, formal hall (or guest night, depending on your college) requires you to raid your wardrobe for the most versatile of dresses. Yes, you will be rubbing shoulders with tutors, fellows and possibly Hugh Grant (!). But post-dessert you will almost certainly be heading out into the alcoholic’s playground of Oxford – even if you’re “Honestly not even going to get that drunk” (yeah, right).


Lucinda: For formal hall, you need a dress  like this Love halter-neck number (£36) that won’t turn the heads of the head table, but can also follow you on to Bridge when you’re on to your second bottle of red…

Emily: This double-hemmed Topshop slip dress (£38) is transferable from college hall to club just with a change of shoes.

Laura: I don’t even bother to change my shoes. As such, this Dry Lake lace dress (£52.95) is perfect.


As the sartorial highlight of Freshers’ Week, matriculation puts your styling skills to the test like no other. Play it cool, play it chic, and – most importantly! – play it safe. Remember, there will be photographs. Don’t be the one who stumbles up late, wearing a navy suit, pink socks and carrying only one shoe. (This actually happened.)

Oxford matriculation outfit

Lucinda: Look prim and proper in your Matriculation outfit with this H&M blouse (£14.99) – even if you still have no idea what Matriculation is…

Emily: Go for these Office flats (£52) if you’re keeping it simple. On the other hand, a pair of DMs wouldn’t go amiss.

Laura: Whilst anything too provocative should be reserved for Matriculash, this ultra-cute, on-trend, New Look asymmetric skirt (17.99) injects just the right amount of rebellion into traditional matriculation attire.


They don’t know you. They don’t care about you. They may not even like you. Still, your first meeting with your tutors – who, may we remind you, will be your intellectual quasi-slave drivers for the next three years – warrants a certain kind of dress. Luckily for you, we have three.

 Oxford tutor dress

Lucinda: You can’t go wrong with this New Look skater dress (£12.99)!

Emily: This Urban Outfitters dress (£55) doesn’t flash too much flesh, but remains assertive and interesting.

Laura: Anything in a skater style and with a peter pan collar gets my full approval, and this A Wear dress (£39)  nails the laid-back-chic look your first tutor meeting necessitates. Be memorable, but also be conservative – your tutors are teaching you, not checking you out.


Make a note now: your sky-high stiletto heels and the cobbled streets that lie beneath the dreaming spires of Oxford do-not-mix, nor will they ever.

 university clubbing shoes

Lucinda: Every girl needs a fail-safe pair of heels to throw on with any clubbing outfit, and these New Look shoes (£19.99) have plenty of support around your ankles to keep you upright all night long. Well, most of the night anyway…

Emily: Go for these Topshop two-tone shoes (£34) … because Park End needs jazzing up.

Laura: I’ve actually never worn heels on a night out in Oxford … or, at least, if I did I wasn’t sober enough to remember. My beloved Underground creepers (£89) are highly recommended and have served me well every time and everywhere (yep, even in Bridge!).


Whilst Katie Hopkins has recently given the word ‘shortcuts’ a bad name, some really are worth investing in. Namely, all those that involve cheating your way to that elusive ‘I’ve-had-my-8-hours’ glow.

 miracle beauty products

Lucinda: It isn’t fancy. It isn’t pretty. It probably shouldn’t even be counted as a beauty product. But whatever university throws at you – an impromptu outbreak, a red nose as you suffer from freshers’ flu – Sudocrem antiseptic healing cream (£2.55) will nurse you back to health.

Emily: Incredibly cheap, not oily, use everywhere. Simple instructions for a simple miracle beauty product – aloe vera lotion (£5.39).

Laura: Want ‘Serena Van Der Woodsen’ hair, but don’t have the time or patience to get it? With this miracle-working Moroccan oil treatment (£31.85), you can cheat your way to Upper East Sider locks in minutes.


It’s the middle of the night, you’re in desperate need of toothpicks to wedge your eyes open, and you’re experiencing the living hell of your first ‘all-nighter’ – and we mean all-nighter, none of this tucked up in bed by 4am business. You couldn’t be further away from ‘living the dream’. But, at least you have a jumper – and coffee … lots and lots of coffee – to get you through*.

 university shopping list

Lucinda: You need a jumper like this Urban Outfitters cardigan (£48) that makes you feel like you’re being given a big hug as you stare at your shiny blank word document at 2am…

Emily: Stay stylish in the crisis by working the androgyny trend in American Apparel fisherman’s pullover (£66).

Laura: Trust me, there’s nothing like a bit of Katharine Hamnett’s slogan style to motivate you through an essay crisis. If she can kick Margaret Thatcher’s ass with a slogan top, you sure as hell can nail this essay with Dimepiece’s slogan sweatshirt (£50).

* Until next time, that is.

If you’re coming to Oxford University this October, make sure you ‘like’ our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with our Freshers’ Week countdown. If you’re interested in joining The Oxford Student’s fashion team either as a writer, a model, a stylist or a photographer, we would love to hear from you! Just drop us a quick email at