The skin we are in

"In Norway we dress for the weather" remarked a some what perplexed third year, as she chatted with her housemates about British student attire on nights out.

In Britain, it appears we refuse to dress for the weather. And let's face it, when has "the weather" ever done us any favours? We can't live our lives in water-proof onesies can we...

As our university terms roll out once more, the students of the UK strip-down to head out for a night on the town. I wonder however, if anyone has ever thought to stop and ask why we dress as we do for nights out in this country, in this culture? It's a bizarre moment when a Norwegian cuts through our status quo and makes us look at ourselves, but it's worth taking a moment to do just that.

Take us girls for example.

When the lights are low, the music is loud and the drinks are cheap, we also accept it as normal that girls will dress up with way more make-up, accessories and effort than usual. We probably find ourselves wearing way less clothes and way more revealing outfits than we would to a lecture, a restaurant, a coffee meet-up… church. Don't get me wrong, we love an excuse to dress up nice, wear a new item of clothing, "feel gorgeous"… but when did it also become the status quo to make sure our outfit is extra tight, impressively short, our legs are out (and tanned), that top is low, that bra is push-up, those heels are high… when did so much skin become the outfit of choice?

After all, "in Norway we dress for the weather"…

And what do the lads think about this? Is scantily clad the most attractive thing for you if you were looking to find a potential date for dinner? Does more skin on show shout "girlfriend material" or something else? Girls, what are we looking for (or deliberately not looking for)? Because we are giving off signals one way or another. 

Maybe we dress how we dress because we love it, we feel brilliant in tight clothing and tinted foundation, and we don't care what the blokes think anyway. So then, how do we handle the unwanted attention that comes our way as we try and get to the bar through the crowd and strangers' hands are grabbing anonymously as we go? Is that just a norm we need to accept… or is there another way?

In 1 Peter 3: 3-5 in The Message translation of the bible, it talks about the whole point being inner beauty that then shines out, not outer beauty created by accessories. I love the amazing phrase the passage uses about "cultivating this inner beauty", so that us girls can be "unanxious" and "unintimidated".

Imagine that on a night out.

I think this debate is a pretty massive one, with a lot more to it than I have space to touch-upon here, but let's open up the discussion as always, and you guys can take further what I have begun… what do you think about how UK students dress on nights out? What's your experience? Is there an alternative and do you even want it? 

After all, "in Norway we dress for the weather"…

Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

Partner with Miriam