Fashion: Versace shirt? Go straight to the top of the class

As a Nineties fresher, you won't impress anyone with six A-levels and a membership card for the pot-holing club. Get with it.
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The Independent Culture
SUMMER HOLIDAYS are nearly over and, with term time just around the corner, thousands of university students will be anxious about how to equip their wardrobes for the autumn term. What you wear to a lecture, as well as to the bar, is now a bigger issue than ever before.

According to Sharon, a second year politics student at Kingston University, high street names such as Miss Selfridge have no appeal and only attract the so-called "teeny boppers".

Sharon says: "High street fashion caters for teenagers who want to follow trends set by commercial pop groups like the Spice Girls." Sharon vehemently refuses to wear clothes from high street outlets on the basis that they are just cheap imitations of the real stuff.

Among her favourite designers are D&G, Versace and Moschino. "Their clothes are so cool. I feel great walking down the street in designer wear. The response from people on the street is unbelievable. They do look at you differently." Wearing designer clothes gives Sharon self-confidence as well as a sharp appearance.

She believes a designer label helps her to assert a powerful image, and also indicates that she is both "clued up" and "with it".

Terry (pictured right) is a 21-year-old Bio-medical science student, also studying at Kingston. He is extremely fashion-conscious and devoted to his clothes. "I love my clothes so much that I've taken out insurance on my wardrobe", he says.

Terry says walking into his university canteen is like walking into a catwalk show. "When you go into the canteen, there is a long aisle and seats at either side. Whenever someone comes in they are looked at, from head to toe. That's why it's so important to be seen wearing the right clothes. The whole thing is just like a fashion show."

The most prominent names in the canteen at present are: D&G, Armani, DKNY, Versace, Iceberg, Moschino, CK, YSL and Ralph Lauren. Terry admits there is a great deal of peer pressure to adapt to a "designer dress code", and says that failure to do so may result in unpopularity and rejection.

Terry's obsession with designer clothes is proving very costly. Last year he spent a pounds 2,000 government loan, plus a pounds 2,000 student grant and a pounds 1,500 student overdraft in the fashionable boutiques of Knightsbridge, Bond Street and Sloane Street. He admits to being "a bit broke". Terry's summer was spent working to pay off the overdraft and he was unable to go on holiday this year.

Never mind Terry, the weather here isn't that bad, and look at it this way: at least you have next year's loan, grant and overdraft to go shopping with.

Judy Lennox, aged 18, plans to go to Middlesex University. She isn't at all surprised by the designer outburst in London's universities. "It's exactly the same at my college; so I am prepared for it," says Judy. Judy has already stocked up on designer gear from the summer sales. In her wardrobe she has two pairs of new Gucci shoes, purchased at a discount price; a sporty DKNY bag for her books and papers; one pair of black Versace Jeans (an essential) and a few designer-label T-shirts.

Whatever happened to the image of the traditional student, wearing dirty plimsolls, tatty jeans and the political statement T-shirt? Well, it was trashed in the materialistic Eighties. The Nineties student is stylish, fashionable and wouldn't be seen dead in plimsolls.