Illustration by Ben Beechener

Valentine’s Day may come around only once a year, but what about the other 364 days? 

Love can be found in many forms – relationships, friendships and within yourself – yet  it is also present in your favourite song, book, TV show or outfit. It means different things to different people and can provoke feelings of safety, comfort, or a burst of serotonin. As is expected, we get the most enjoyment out of our clothes when they are both comfortable and to our taste. However, we often find ourselves sacrificing our comfort or veering away from our preferred styles all for the sake of ‘fitting in’ (God knows how many times I’ve regretted wearing 4-inch heels to a 5-hour Oxford ball).

Amy – Fashion and Style Editor

No matter the occasion, some outfits can be altered to work for anything. Take this outfit for example, if you were to take it apart it’s actually fairly basic – a white cropped tank top, white jeans, faux leather jacket etc. On their own these items are not necessarily stand out pieces, however when paired together they can be. If it’s brunch with the girls, the light jacket and black bag combination adds a touch of style while keeping things low key. Attending a fashion show? The sleek bun, cat eye sunglasses and heeled white boots are little details that can instantly fit the theme, and can be easily altered for other occasions.

Finally if you’re looking to dress to impress on a date, not only is the outfit practical, but it’s “jeans and a nice top” taken to a more stylish level. The colour white often makes us think of freshness and simplicity, and it does not overwhelm your date with bright prints and patterns. Studies have also shown that the colour white can make people feel at peace and calm – exactly the vibe you want yourself and the people around you to feel. The heels can be swapped for white trainers or something more lowkey as can the sunglasses, however jewellery that enhances your outfit is always a good addition. The pearl necklace, matching pearl earrings and red lip draw attention to your face and avoids the outfit dominating your presence (plus no outfit can be complete without your favourite perfume aka Marc Jacobs’ Daisy).

Fashion is subjective, and if you dislike the outfit I wore above, you’re well within your right to – just know that won’t stop me wearing it. Through Instagram, I asked fellow students what their favourite outfit  that makes them feel most comfortable is and, despite a questionable bright purple velvet jacket and black Hawaiian shirt combination (which was, in my opinion, mortifying), the results made me fearful that one of you is going to steal my job.

Katie

Katie: “I could be wearing a stunning dress or my pyjamas, but I guarantee that I’d feel one-hundred times better about the outfit by the time I’ve thrown some cute boots on it! There’s a feeling of empowerment and strength that comes from the right pair of boots that just makes you never want to take them off.”

Beau

Beau (in the middle): “My go to outfit is definitely anything with my blonde wig! My relationship with my hair’s been pretty turbulent over the years, so shaving it all off in the new year and wearing wigs in the winter felt like a fresh start. My hair is now a canvas for new hairstyles and risks, and I owe it to my younger self to be the best person I can be. I’ve always struggled with how slim I am too, but I love how this dress wears me. The marron fits with the night mood and sometimes it’s nice to feel comfortable in unconventionality.”

Other comments included: 

“Black leather blazer, short black pencil skirt, black turtleneck, tights, knee high black boots”

“A plain dress and funky earrings to add a little spice.”

“Flowy trousers and a cute long sleeved crop top” 

“A check shirt, dark blue chinos, brown shoes and a V-neck Jumper”

“A hoodie that I stole from my girlfriend, wearing it makes me really happy”

“The combination of a velvet purple jacket and Hawaiian shirt may leave Amy crying but it essentially expresses my entire personality upon first sight. It’s inarguably eccentric, visually loud and, despite the colour mismatches, it somehow works. Despite the fact I’ve only worn it once, I’ve never received so many compliments on an outfit as I have this one. There’s something about wearing an outfit that isn’t conventional that makes you more approachable to people you’ve never met before.” – Oliver

Whether it’s a first date or your 3-year anniversary and you’re hoping to dress to impress, one of the most important things to have is confidence. But how can you be at your most confident if you’re not feeling good in your outfit? Here are your go-to date outfits that made YOU feel good.

Humzah

Humzah: “For the nerve-wracking first date, it’s always important to be both comfortable and confident. This oversized brown varsity jacket will keep you warm and works especially well for a modest look. The neutral tones across the top and bottom half of the outfit with the preppy beige v neck and basic baggy jeans add cohesion to the entire outfit. Coupled with the bold colour of trainers, you can stand out and make sure you leave a strong first impression as soon as you walk in. Ultimately, these are all suggestions because most importantly you should wear what exudes your unique style and flair.”

Lauren

Lauren: “I like to combine quite traditionally feminine aspects with more casual and slightly rougher elements to overall create a look that could be dressed up or down depending on the date. For me that includes pearls, rings, satin, or lace with baggy shirts, leather, and boots, paired with eyeliner or a natural look, and of course your favourite perfume (mine is Black Opium).”

Katie

Katie (she’s back! We can’t get enough of her): “You won’t always be confident on a first date, but your outfit can be! For me it’s all about colour – it’s fun, outgoing (something that I’m usually trying to emulate), and can tell them something about you before you even open your mouth to speak. But, if all else fails and your online shopping order turns out to be a disaster, make sure you’ve got the staple LBD (little black dress) on standby – you can always make it more fun with plenty of colourful accessories.”

So next time you go out, whatever the occasion, make sure you’re dressing to please yourself before you dress for anyone else. Confidence is by far what holds an outfit together and ensures that you are wearing the outfit and the outfit isn’t wearing you. We could all do with a little less concern about what others think of our appearance, and building up the confidence to do so comes from feeling comfortable in your own skin – having the freedom to express yourself through your stylistic choices. Whether you’re in a relationship or living a fantastic single life, dressing to impress yourself before anyone else is one of the best forms of love.

Amy Ellis Winter

When not burying her nose in a book for her English degree, Amy can usually be found listening to an excessive amount of indie rock as she watches Clueless for the 87th time. She enjoys playing her guitar, attending the theatre and dancing on stage and in the studio - which she has been doing for the past 13 years.