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A Fresher’s Guide to Durham’s Dress Code

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Durham chapter.

You’ve just started at Durham University, and like many girls, one of your biggest problems is the classic ‘what do I wear?’ Well we’ve got the answers to get you fashion fixed and style sorted. 


The matriculation ceremony is where you officially become members of Durham University. It takes place in the (almost) one thousand year old Cathedral, a grand setting that calls for equally grand clothes. That means suits and ties for the boys, and a smart dress or skirt and top for the girls. Oh, and it might pay to not look too horrifically hungover from the night before, as your whole-year matriculation photo will hang on the wall of your college for ever more.


If you’re in a less traditional hill college, your formals will often be themed, giving you a chance to show off your fancy dress skills and not worry too much about a dress code. If not, it’s another occasion to dress smartly – suits and ties for the boys and cocktail dresses for the girls – but be warned if you’re in Castle – dress smarter than the master and you could end up with a fine. So leave the bow ties and the tailcoats at home, chaps.

Nights out

Forget whatever images of the North East too much Geordie Shore has instilled in you, do not wear heels on nights out in Durham. You’ll fall down the stairs in Jimmy A’s, won’t be able to walk on the cobbles, and everyone will think you’re a local and wonder why you’re out on a Monday night. There’s plenty of choice of clothing, though, as girls will be seen wearing anything from jeans and a top to a bodycon dress.

While boys often don the oh-so-Durham shirt and chino combo, the clubs and bars in the city are not strict on dress code, and you can get away with pretty much anything.

Any Wednesday night in Loveshack will have the rugby team in their blazers and some kind of social dressed in bizarre costumes, so as long as you’re somewhere between these two extremes, you’ll be just fine.

It might be a good idea to invest in a cheap pair of shoes that you don’t mind sacrificing to be your ‘Klute shoes’. Waking up to find your favourite shoes covered in mysterious ‘Klute juice’ is not the best way to start a Monday morning.


The most popular attire is probably a t-shirt and jeans, but you can get away with almost anything. You could wear your Team Durham stash, (how else will everyone in your lecture know you do a university sport?), or even last night’s outfit if you passed out in bed without getting changed and woke up five minutes before your lecture. Full suits and pyjamas are occasionally seen, but are not recommended unless you want someone to mock your outfit choices on yik yak.


Society socials are the time to go all out with your fancy dress. Try to muster the same enthusiasm you had for your World Book Day costume when you were eight, and head to the fancy dress shop on Silver Street to perfect your look. The more effort you make, the better – if you make it really obvious you’re in fancy dress then nobody can judge what you’re wearing, no matter how strange you look.

I am currently in my final year of studying English Literature at Durham University, England. I am hoping to become a journalist in the future, but in the mean time, I enjoy cheerleading, fashion and travelling, and of course, being the editor of Durham's Her Campus!