The university packing list

After all of the stress, you’ve made it. The exams are done, the results good; your parents have gushingly informed every relative, neighbour and passing cat that you’ve got into Oxford; the dreaded bureaucracy of Student Finance has been appeased, and you’ve (mostly) overcome the post-results-night hangover.

Plain sailing from here right? Wrong. And no, I’m not referring to the workload, nor the chaos of Freshers’ Week. I’m talking about a challenge bigger than your entrance exam: packing for university.

The realisation that you’re going to need to get 8 weeks’ worth of items up to Oxford, fit them in your room, and then successfully transport them back home (unless you get storage) can be very daunting. However – take it from a veteran – it can be done. Let’s do things by occasion to make it simpler.


Up to you. Show off your style or hide in a hoodie. Make sure to bring a thick coat for when the temperatures drop and an umbrella or mac for when the heavens open. Though if you’re just having a library day then the most important item is just a cosy jumper; no point being uncomfortable or cold while you’re mid-essay-crisis.


You want something stunning, but it’s also worth bearing mind that a lot of balls feature something mad like laser tag, sumo wrestling or dodgems. By all means go for an elaborate hairstyle and a floor-sweeping gown, but just know you’ll have to make a decision between maintaining your elegant apparel and mucking in with whatever bizarre activity is on offer.

That goes for boys as well as girls, though the gents may also want to check the dress code to see if they need black tie or white tie. If it’s the latter and you’re a little daunted by the prospect, check out OxStu Fashion’s guide.

Formal dinners/events

Not as formal as a ball, not as casual a normal meal. Make sure you pack a few nice dresses, shirts, blazers etc. which can be on hand in case you receive an impromptu invitation to be someone’s guest. Gentlemen, if you don’t own a good suit I recommend investing in one now. If you want more that just pain black, look out for a sophisticated grey or sedate blue. Ladies, there’s no requirement to wear heels, and there are a lot of lovely flats out there, but if you do decide to sport your stilettos, make sure you’ve practiced walking in them a little first. There’s nothing worse than falling down the stairs in front of all your new tutors and subject-mates at the end of freshers’ formal, making it look like you’ve had one too many glasses of the college wine. And yes, I do speak from experience.


Unlike some other cities, Oxford clubbing does not require a great deal of preparation. In fact for freshers’ week, everyone will be wearing the same thing as you proudly sport your freshers’ pack T-shirts for the first and last time. The rest of the time, a jazzy top of some kind will do very nicely. I wouldn’t recommend heels, but if you (like me) are after a little extra height without the discomfort, find a pair of shoe-boots – wedge heels are the best for comfort.

Matriculation & Exams

Ha! You thought you’d escaped school uniform! Well don’t throw that white shirt out just yet, because you’re going to need it as part of your matriculation get-up, which you’re also required to wear for exams. This consists of white shirt, black skirt/trousers, a fetching gown and mortar board, and a white bow-tie or black velvet ribbon (good luck working out what the hell you’re meant to do with that bloody ribbon). The gown and its accoutrements can be purchased in Oxford, but bring your other stuff from home; it’s no fun panic-trawling Primark for a white shirt the morning before an exam.


Ah, BOPs. The mysterious alcoholic concoctions in plastic cups, the inevitably varying quality of student DJs, and most of all, the costumes. They range from the brilliant to the utterly bewildering, from ‘literally-just-thought-of-this’ to ‘spent-weeks-designing-and-constructing-this’. My advice is to take some random things with you when you go up. I have a box containing a tiara, a mask, face paint, some weird jewellery and a whole host of other odd items which might just come in handy. Oxford does, after all, have something of a reputation for spontaneous eccentricity.

If you want to read more, check out our guides on what to wear to Bridge nightclub, the Union, and lectures.

Featured image from here, Lectures & Library images are past OxStu shoots, all other images are embedded with source