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Mature student needs a new (practical but not dreadful) wardrobe

(54 Posts)
duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 13:53:00

Very excited to be starting a masters at UCL in September.
I want to look nice but be comfy. But not old person practical. Am pushing 40 and may be oldest person there. I have been mostly in my activewear for last eight child rearing years and most recently living in the tropics so don't really have anything suitable atm.
I will be commuting in once a week with a long train journey and half an hour walk in London.
So I need nice but weatherproof clothes. That are walking and carrying a study rucksack compatible.
I mostly buy online but am near big towns and can shop. I have a fab Merrell Wakefield from the bum-covering threads but think I need a full length coat. My Ma had a drizabone back in the day.
I am 5'7, 10st7. Long body, short legs, big thighs and big wide feet. Very defined waist and good upper half. But nice frock and heels- which would suit my shape- just wouldn't cut it for walking and rain etc..and I don't want to lug a change with me.
I love my wide Hudson jeans and just bought a similar RL polo pair from TKMaxx.
I fancied needlecord wide trousers the same-is this still even around in shops? It was when I started uni 20 years ago-, then maybe tight fitting v neck knitwear or I used to wear Zara cotton boat neck 3/4 sleeve t shirts. What kind of shoes? I wear a 42 and have orthotics. Hamble Oaks get a good press on here.
Budget is fairly flexible. I still wear clothes from teen years if they will stretch to fit me in, so get my value from clothes.
Thank you for any advice!

Judydreamsofhorses Wed 02-Aug-17 20:14:07

I'm a lecturer, although not at UCL, and the mature students I teach wear all sorts - some dress more smartly than me, and others are very "studenty". Few female students carry rucksacks at my place as pretty much everything is paperless with a virtual learning environment, so you might be fine with a bigger handbag or title that can fit a laptop or tablet in it. Oh, and you definitely won't be among the oldest!

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 20:29:34

Ooh laptop. Good point, hadn't even thought of paperless lectures. Taking notes on a laptop will be a whole new skill set. Luckily I have kept up my typing speeds by Mning non stop for last eight years as SAHM <proud of diligence>.
Thank you for replying. I have a nice brown leather satchel from my first job a long time ago, maybe I will dig that out.

PovertyJetset Wed 02-Aug-17 20:35:05

Is it importnat that you look smart?

I think this would look good-

Brougues with wide leg cropped trousers
Plain shirt or 3/4 length t shir
Crew neck sweater

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 20:52:52

I think that I am too dumpy to pull off cropped trousers. I don't think that I need to look smart but would like a bit of a confidence bump. I need to buy new clothes anyway for UK weather.
I was thinking that new clothes for the start of term might be a bit like nice new pencils and rubbers used to be for school!

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 20:53:52

I have ordered brogues. Laura Ashley looked to have nice three quarter sleeve boat necks today. Can't have shirts as won't iron so they would lead to a smartness fail

Judydreamsofhorses Wed 02-Aug-17 21:10:19

In my place lecturers upload slides/notes etc from classes to the virtual learning environment, meaning you can access them from anywhere. Most students do take notes on either their laptops or paper too though. You might find a lot of your texts are ebooks too, so you won't need to cart too much about. I meant tote, not title in my previous post, btw!

I'm actually a similar size to you - 5ft 6, usually weigh about ten stone - and am a big fan of a wide, cropped trouser. I wear them with fitted tops (often Breton stripes, sometimes fine-knit, crew-neck jumpers) and either brogues or black Stan Smiths. Not dumpy! I wear that sort of outfit for teaching a lot, in winter I wear more short-ish skirts with opaques and flat Chelsea boots, and also black skinny jeans with blouses. Teaching staff at mine tend not to be very formal, whereas management, heads of school etc are more suited and booted. You may find you are smarter than your lecturers. (No bad thing, mind!)

NC4now Wed 02-Aug-17 21:20:19

You're the same age height and education background to me (graduated 1999) but you are slimmer.
I'd wear dresses, thick tights, sturdy boots (biker style) a good coat and chunky scarf.
Skinny jeans would also fit in with that.
I'd get a decent, large leather satchel (I use these for work as a freelance journo, so carry laptop, notebooks, pencil case every day).
Layers are the way forward for you I think.

NC4now Wed 02-Aug-17 21:25:22

Here's a couple of outfits I've pinned lately. Any of these work for you?

NewbieAcademic Wed 02-Aug-17 21:32:47

Good luck OP and welcome to UCL. It totally depends on the subject you're studying, but if it's the sciences or psychology, you're likely to see most students dressed in jeans, old tee shirts and sneakers + backpacks. The only well dressed students are the ones from abroad who seem to wear heels and nice shoes and clothes and carry handbags!

I'm also a mature postgraduate student and usually wear tights, boots, and a dress, or jeans/sneakers and a neat blouse. Also recommend layers because some lecture theatres and computer rooms are freezing, but many of our offices are overheated all year around.

Also make sure you clear out some time in the evenings early on in term 1 to go to lots of social events. People make friends quickly there, and then somehow stay within those friendship groups quite rigidly all year through (esp in one-year FT masters courses). I wasn't as social in the first few weeks and felt a wee bit left out later. Good luck!

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 21:33:40

Ooh i have some dr martens like ink{\]]1} squirrelled away somewhere at my parents'- bought online from a long ago MN suggestion. Or could do biker or Chelsea boots, good thinking.
Will investigate cropped trousers then- I like structured clothes so they may work out.

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 21:37:18

NC4now I really like the first two pins!
Thanks for tips newbie. It is a PT health psychology masters. I hadn't really thought of socialising. Blimey. Freshers week all over again. Hopefully a bit less alcohol focused than Oxford 1997.... will tap up some London based friends for sleepovers to avoid rushing for last train back if I can then.

Bokky Wed 02-Aug-17 21:39:28

I've just finished at UCL as a mature student, (very) late 30's, and I always wore jeans, brogues or boots, and a smart top. I carried all my books and laptop in an oversized bag (luggage sized but more handbaggy) and wore either a cape or coat, depending on the weather.

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 21:40:08

link again

duriandurian Wed 02-Aug-17 21:40:52

Cape sounds amazing bokky

NC4now Wed 02-Aug-17 21:53:38

I wish I was going back to uni.

NewbieAcademic Wed 02-Aug-17 22:30:14

Ha! Unlikely to be less alcohol focused. And it really is hilarious watching people in their early twenties trying to flirt with each other. I remember mentioning my husband early on and getting some confused looks. The only person some of them knew with a "husband" was their mum. But there are quite a few mature students, and students with more mature outlooks too, and you'll have a blast!

duriandurian Thu 03-Aug-17 07:22:09

Ooof. Flirting observation sounds a bit cringey, glad of to be out of that.
Yes, they will prob be closer in age to my eight year old than to 39 year old me.
My husband and I are both going back to Uni so a big lifestyle change. He will be at Warwick tho' so at least not in each other's pockets. He is not so worried about a wardrobe revamp. Will still mostly be wearing shorts all year round!

PovertyJetset Thu 03-Aug-17 08:17:25

I like the idea of a little nipped at the qaotvtweedy jacket and a HUGE cashmere scarf in a burgundy or mustard.

PovertyJetset Thu 03-Aug-17 08:17:41

**At the waist tweedy

duriandurian Thu 03-Aug-17 08:53:10

Am so annoyed with myself that I didn't plan in a visit to Vietnam for speedy tailor made student clothes before we moved back. I am so fussy about natural materials and things are always disappointingly nylon. I agree on nipped in tweed jacket. Kind of thing that Zara did 20 years ago. Will investigate if it is also retro enough to be back in. In fact I think I have a fab 1940s style tweed suit from Oasis from a decade ago. The pencil skirt prob still won't manage my hips but jacket might work.

PiratePanda Thu 03-Aug-17 09:07:25

I'm a lecturer, and please take notes on paper, not on a device. There are some excellent recent studies now that demonstrate that students retain more information and analyse and process it better when they take notes by hand on paper than when they type it into a device.

A tablet with stylus might be OK.

Either way, to preserve your back I would still recommend a rucksack. I now have a hidden disability (arthritic spine that affects my shoulder and arm movement, with constant low level pain) from asymmetric weight-bearing (aka carrying heavy stuff to work on only one shoulder).

PiratePanda Thu 03-Aug-17 09:09:08

e.g. on paper vs. laptop, this article if anyone is interested. Open access, so anyone can read it

duriandurian Thu 03-Aug-17 09:16:55

Brilliant. I will look at that article. Thank you. Some of my more basic revision techniques at school involved just writing out and restructuring what I had in my notes so I can imagine it would be helpful. And actually my recall from kindle books is far poorer than from paper books.
Plus there is a lot more joy in buying a nice pencil case and pads of paper than squinting at all the different laptops that JL sell and trying to work out which one would be best to type on and lug around.
Arthritic spine and pain sounds absolutely rubbish, sorry to hear that. Thanks for the warning.I will be legging it every week from Marylebone to Bloomsbury so it's a fairly long way to carry a heavy bag on one side. Will put away my newly excavated nice brown satchel then.
Rucksacks do limit nice clothes tho' don't they? But far preferable to pain and restricted movement. Gah, maybe I need a commuter donkey to carry all my stuff with me. Would also work if I nip into shops on the way home..

PiratePanda Thu 03-Aug-17 09:20:00

@duriandurian I feel your pain on the rucksack front (or back?) - I've just started a thread requesting advice on elegant ones as it happens.

I have been using a small, dark grey-blue macpac for years; I can just squeeze a laptop into it (I do the laptops with cinema screens thing so I can move my office ergonomically from home to work). It's extremely inoffensive - maybe something like that would do you?

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