Who, What And Wear- Characteristics Of Style In Small Towns And Big Cities

Amelia Brookes

Fashion is ever-changing- something that could be in one day is out the other, something that was considered trendy and effortlessly cool is now cheugy and ‘trying too hard’ – it’s a snapshot of our times now just to see how university students choose to express themselves. But are fashion styles different in small towns as compared to big cities? Do trends die faster in certain areas? Is there less of a pressure to dress in a similar way to your peers when more independent options are open to a shopper?

Style and Subcultures

In the city, there seem to be many different styles and subcultures. Reviewing my time so far in Nottingham- I’ve been struck by the sheer amount of aesthetics that I’ve seen (especially since showing up to a taster session at the Creative Writing society!). Goth, punk, emo, dark academia, dramatic outfits with more hats than I have ever seen at home, Y2K vintage, not to mention 90s vintage… (should I go on?), it seems as if even the university itself is a pinnacle of aesthetic expression, let alone the city.

I’ve been struck by the sheer amount of aesthetics that I’ve seen

Having visited various vintage and charity shops and walked in the bustling Lace Market district, I’ve noticed that there’s a reason for these varied looks – there are more options for shoppers than larger commercial fashion brands, which seem to follow current trends in creating their collections. By pursuing the opportunity to adopt a different look in a city that many students have never visited before studying at the University of Nottingham, students have been adding pieces to their wardrobe that they may never have even looked at while living in a small town. Many students have even documented these fashion journeys and you can find the articles online!

Trends and Perceptions

Perceptions of fashion are interesting – what could be subtle and understated to one person could be flashy and ostentatious to another- and I have noticed these differences in small town vs big city perception. When living at home (home being a smaller town in Yorkshire), I would consistently wonder throughout the summer how people saw my fashion. At university, I found myself caring less. In small towns, trends amongst young people often endure for longer and have more sway due to the close proximity and friend groups tending to dress similarly – it seems that’s what happens when young people are all together in a ‘bubble’.

I’ve been told by a friend that she has noticed that many people at the University of Nottingham follow a similar sense of style, another remarking that flares and North Face clothing were particularly popular. However, at the University of Nottingham, this seems to be another example of a common aesthetic, or even an expression of the ‘rah’ subculture that seems to be showing up increasingly on university campuses- it is not an accepted ‘norm’, but simply a characteristic of a more diverse fashion landscape.

Cities and personality

Fashion does not exist in a vacuum and there are many more factors to fashion than simply geographical location

However, this is not to say that small towns lack personality and nuance. Each place has a lively fashion history of its own, with my hometown being no exception. There were students keenly interested in fashion and design there and many who have gone on to start small businesses. However, a lot of these students were unique in the way that they created their own clothes, and more bought pieces online, using the lack of uncommercial clothing in their area as an impetus to search for outfits that more closely matched their aesthetic.

 To conclude, fashion does not exist in a vacuum and there are many more factors to fashion than simply geographical location – for example age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Trends can be spotted, but there is no ‘big city’ and ‘small town’ style- only the individuals that frequent them and where they choose to get their clothes from.

Amelia Brookes

Featured image courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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