A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Words by

Amy Campbell

Oh, student living.  

It’s not a time of life I look back on with particular style pride. While living on campus, my newfound pals and I were more interested in Aldi’s weekly wine specials than our levels of sartorial class. We spent more time in Ugg boots than wearing actual shoes. And we truly believed ‘college merch’ was a respectable solution to the age-old debacle, ‘I’m-too-hungover-to-decide-what-to-wear-to-class.’

But despite my severe lack of any personal style standards, I did learn a thing or two to carry into my more fashionable years.

When one is forced to share a second-rate washing machine with 200 other students, some weird and wonderful survival instincts kick in. I learnt how to hand-wash in a bathroom sink, hand-dry in a salad spinner and exploit every student discount code the Internet has to offer. Mum always said, ‘make the most of what you’ve got.’ But when I tell her of the capable human that college moulded me to be, she usually looks more perturbed than proud.

But heck, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And when the ship (*booze cruise) is about to sail and you’ve discovered a run, rip or broken zip, emergency measures prevail. A lady must learn to be resourceful.    

I’m relieved to say I emerged from student living relatively unscathed. And today, I dress more like a respectable human than an athlete that can’t decide between bed and the gym. But these style hacks still prove handy from time to time, despite the fact I now elect to buy bottled, rather than cask wine.

1. You can find friends based on dress and shoe size  

I must confess, I found most of my college mates on a sweaty orientation week dancefloor, fist pumping furiously to Will Sparks. But after a few nights out on the town (*grimy pub down the road) I learnt to sniff out other stylish students, and drop the question, ‘what size?’. We instantly bonded. I liked to call them ‘friends with fashion benefits’. Why settle for one wardrobe, when you can play trades with 10 or more?

2. No iron? No worries

When it’s the night of the university ball - and the line to use the communal iron is longer than the queue to the girl’s bathroom later that night - one learns hanging a frock in a steamy shower will suffice. Crank up the heat, get scrubbing and watch the crinkles release.

3. But if you do have an iron, the iron-illiterate will pay for your services

Likewise, when the only thing between your guy pals and the ball is an un-ironed shirt, you’d be surprised what people will pay for your skills. Especially if they’re tired and craving a beer after sitting in class all day. I learnt how to press a shirt in five minutes flat. The collar was the hardest part, but a hair straightener will fix that.

4. Red wine stains CAN be removed

I was always more of a Pinot Noir than Pinot Gris girl, but my penchant for enjoying a glass (*goon bag) of red didn’t come without its problems. After making the mistake of wearing a white dress while drinking red wine too many times, I took to the Internet in search of a solution cheaper than dry cleaning. Did you know dabbing white wine onto a red stain makes it disappear? Bloody genius, I say. It became my hack of the year.

5. Buy your D-floor boots from Big W

I learnt this hack the hard way. After destroying a brand new pair of Tony Bianco boots on a dancefloor smeared with dirt, beer, perspiration and other bodily juices I’d prefer not to name. But one of my mutual-shoe-sized pals was ahead of me in the footwear game. She introduced me to the boot aisle of Big W and we selected my first $15 pair of black (*faux) leather beauties. I never looked back.

6. You are a poor, unemployed student with a concession card. Use it while you can

You don’t realise how valuable your student status is until you finish your degree and become a full fee-paying individual. No longer do you qualify for cheaper public transport, cinema tickets or ASOS student discount days. So while you have ample hours to scroll through your favourite e-boutiques, I suggest using your student status wisely and securing what you can, while you can, for cheap.

7. Sports tape, shampoo and baby wipes are the solution to everything

When your trusty chicken fillets aren’t providing the lift your dress requires (who even likes those slimy things anyway?) don’t fret. Head to your nearest chemist or sports store instead. Why should the joys of Elastoplast tape be restricted to the knees and ankles of athletes? That stuff holds anything in place.

Run out of detergent, facewash or soap? That’s why they sell those one-litre bottles of shampoo. Treat it like multipurpose cleaner, it will be kind to you.

And while I preferred to use my baby wipes to clean shoes, leather and day-old mascara, an (*anonymous) friend of mine used hers to ‘dry shower.’ I’m still sceptical. But was always envious of her ability to get ready in half an hour. 


Illustration by Twylamae who's also the genius behind this Larry David shrug tee.

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