Blane's Style Files

Blane’s Style Files: Sub Fusc – An Oxford Spotter’s Guide

It’s exam season once again, and if you leave your college at the right time, you might just see swarms of stressed-out exam-takers filling the streets and turning Oxford into The Walking Dead’s richer, more entitled, sub fusc-wearing cousin.

With that said, because sub fusc is essentially a dress code, that means there are so many ways to approach it, so here are a few that I’ve recently spotted roaming Cornmarket Street with lifeless, glazed-over eyes.

Full Glam Sub Fusc

They walk into the Exam Schools with their best suit/skirt, a full face of makeup, cool sunglasses, and a perfectly ironed shirt. They’ve done everything in their power to ensure that they look as good for their exams as they will on their wedding day, if not better.  They aren’t here to play games – their organisational skills are second to none and they’ve been highlighting their notes, making flashcards and re-watching lectures for months now. In fact, they probably have a scholar’s gown, and they want everyone to know about it.

Last Minute Disaster Sub Fusc

They run to the Exam Schools as fast as they can, having overslept after a poorly-judged, Jaegerbomb-fuelled night at Park End, and everything’s a bit of a mess. They had to borrow their housemate’s gown, their shirt has the remains of yesterday’s lunch on it, and their hair makes it look like they secretly live in a wind tunnel, but at least they made it to their exam. They only need to pass, right?

Sexy Sub Fusc

They’re so over the stuffy Oxford traditions that they’ve decided to pull out the mini skirt and force their Hot Girl Trinity into existence one way or another. Their performance in the exam is absolutely secondary to whether or not they get an OxLove written about them as they saunter to and from the exam schools, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll probably be at one of those Sub Fusc and Matriculation (S&M) Bops.

Sad Sub Fusc

They sadly wipe away their tears (and perhaps snot) on the tails of their gown, their shirts stained with tears, and their mascara running down their face, probably all because they forgot a science-y formula or how to form the optative in Greek (whatever that is). If you see one of these, its best to look away so that they don’t die from further embarrassment.

Angry Sub Fusc

After however many years of Oxford-related nonsense, they are no longer afraid to admit that they hate their degree. Every college has at least one, and you will always want to ask them why they don’t just change their course or rusticate to aid their sanity. Their gown is crumpled from being thrown on the floor and neglected, and as soon as they come out of the Exam Schools, they take it off immediately, feeling that the very fabric it’s made from is mocking their poor academic choices. Realistically, they probably aren’t even that bad at their course, they just want to go off to the pub, or back to bed.

Trashed Sub Fusc

They’ve finally completed your exams. Whether their finals are finished, or their prelims are polished off, they can be seen covered in foam, silly string, paint, eggs, confetti, and various other (hopefully biodegradable) debris. As soon as they’ve finished running away from the university staff who’ll attempt to give them a hefty £150 fine, they chuck it in the washing machine and run off to get absolutely hammered at Spoons.