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The University Cities Leading the Way When It Comes to Student Fashion

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As students across the UK pack their bags and prepare for a new term, a study by PrettyLittleThing has revealed that Birmingham is the most fashion-forward student city– followed by Newcastle and Liverpool.  

The global fashion retailer ranked university cities based on several factors, including the number of students, their monthly spending on clothing, the number of PLT orders using student codes, which items were purchased and more.  

It was A for effort for Brummy students, who secured the top spot thanks to scoring highly across factors such as their average student clothing spend at £71, student code orders, and clothing items purchased. 

Newcastle upon Tyne followed closely in second place, studying in style and spending £64 monthly on their wardrobe must-haves. 

Known for their stylish looks and pushing boundaries, it’s no surprise that Liverpudlians came in third. Students here are the highest shoppers of dresses and tops, purchasing the most clothing items, 44% more than Newcastle students, and spending the most on clothing per person out of all locations in the study. 

Interestingly, the research found that cities with the highest student population lacked fashion inspiration, with Coventry (19% student population) and Edinburgh (20%) coming towards the bottom of the leaderboard at 9th and 11th. 

Sophie O’Neil, senior stylist at PrettyLittleThing, comments on the study: “It’s no surprise that Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool top our list if students are following in the footsteps of style icons Liberty Poole, Abbey Clancy, and Vicky Pattison. 

“These cities are a hub of fashion inspiration, and we’re thrilled to see them leading the way in student fashion. Whether it’s brunch with friends in comfy loungewear, a cute co-ord for Freshers Week or a sleek little black dress to bring in the party season – there are looks for every occasion, and students are levelling up this semester.” 

And with the cosy season upon us, UK students also love a comfy outfit during the transitional months. Further research found the Autumn must-haves for students this year include: 

  • Hoodie (53%)
  • Jumper/sweater (43%) 
  • Jeans (36%) 
  • Cargo pants (27%) 
  • Puffer jacket (27%) 

It doesn’t stop with transitional clothing, as the data revealed students are fully on board with rocking viral trends, too – with 40% of respondents favouring the Clean Girl Aesthetic. Of course, there are other trends which students love on social media too, so expect to see Y2K (35%), Old Money Aesthetic (29%), Grunge Aesthetic (23%) and Barbiecore (16%) on campus this year. 

The Dark Academia trend – combining gothic vibes with put-together preppy style – is likely to appear, too, with this style revealed as an emerging trend among students this year. With Netflix such as Wednesday back for a second series in 2024, it’s certainly a look to watch.  

Sophie O’Neil, senior stylist at PrettyLittleThing, inspires how to style it: “If you love the idea of knowledge and academia being romanticised but with a gothic, moodier twist, look no further than the Dark Academia trend.

“With both dark and muted earthy colours, this trend is ideal for those who love a hint of grunge but still prefer to dress smart and preppy. Think white button-up shirts with a simple turtleneck or sweater paired with tweed trousers or a plaid skirt with tights. A smart blazer, cosy cardigan or trench coat for layering is a must, and you can top off the look with chunky loafers or boots and a stylish messenger bag or backpack.”

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