School yourself

Varsity styling courtesy of coming-of-age classics

Words: Rosie Goddard | Photographs: Katinka Bester | Styling: Kelly Fung

A guy and a girl, a long summer, a new beginning, the wrong side of the tracks, high school drama, breakups, bust-ups, teenage alienation. Whether you’re more Boyz N The Hood or The Breakfast Club, there’s a similar narrative to coming-of-age movies – they may package themselves somewhat differently but look a little closer and you’ll find almost identical themes across the board.

Helping us to explore the complex issue of identity at a tender age, the greats, set at varsity or in the dodgy end of London were made all the more memorable by their wardrobes, which alluded to the times, or exaggerated the role and feelings of a specific character. There was the collective individualism of the T-Birds in Grease, the revolutionist style in Spike Lee’s School Daze, the symbolism behind the looks in Cruel Intentions, and, more recently, the characters in Dope channelling their isolation into empowerment via bold 90s ensembles that turned the badly-dressed nerd trope on its head to convey confidence in difference.

Now more than ever, we’re free to wear what we want according to our lifestyles rather than social norms, but we’ll always use style to highlight our worldview and to project the best version of ourselves. It’s not always a conscious thing, but in the varsity space, the way we style ourselves often leads us towards like-minded friends. Look around after a few months and you might notice some similarities in the way you and your new crew like to dress.

We looked to some of our favourite coming-of-age movies to help you kickstart your varsity look and begin the year as you mean to go on. Whether you’re doing harem pants and hacky sacks or sneakers and fresh-to-death sportswear, this is your moment to make your mark and do you on a daily basis like never before.


The vibe: You had a bit of a problem with authority in school, but you’ve managed to channel your overload of energy into good grades, although you don’t like people knowing when you try too hard.

The movies: Green Street Hooligans, Juice, 10 Things I Hate About You.

The look: Street-meets-grunge-meets-sporty. You DJ in your spare time so you’ve always got to be desk-to-dancefloor ready in sneakers, a parka and jeans.

The accessory: A bucket hat + your hair + a DJ booth = something the world needs to see.


The vibe: You’ve always had a knack for looking good – maybe growing up with sisters had something to do with it? Yes, you were into sports at school, and your parents still have high hopes for your professional football career, but in your heart, you just want to be a writer and study at Princeton.

Oh wait, that’s not you, that’s Chad Michael Murray in A Cinderella Story.

The movie: She’s All That, Remember the Titans, John Tucker Must Die.

The look: You err on the clean-cut side of cool, but you’ve got a seriously good handle on your brands.

The accessory: A great pair of patterned socks to jazz up a simple look.


The vibe: You’ve seen the Gosha show, you know about all the upcoming sneaker releases and you think that adidas/Vetements/Palace/Supreme is life.

The movie: Dope, La Haine, The Royal Tenenbaums.

The look: You’re athleisuring hard right now, which means combining the most relevant brand names in just the right way. The statement track top is the buy of the season, while jeans or track pants should be rolled or cuffed, to show off your killer kicks and socks, of course.

The accessory: A backpack. Your look may be “casual” but your approach to style is not: there’s no time for thrifted favourites or old friends here – your bag choice needs to be razor sharp.


The vibe: People are always confusing you for your friends, must be the salty blond hair. You only know super chilled, all the time, except when you’re on the jol.

The movie: Dazed & Confused, Empire Records, Lords of Dogtown.

The look: Comfortable and casual to go with your lifestyle, but you know a good jeans turn-up when you see one, and you don’t go anywhere without your Vans (even though everyone’s got a pair these days).

The accessory: A moonbag. You never know where your day might end up, and you may have to ditch the laptop bag at the last moment to head out with the squad. A moonbag has just enough space for all the essentials.