Winchester Fashion Sense – are we all just Croquet and Cafés?

In conversations with friends from Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, Southampton and other neighbouring towns and cities, I have found a particular stereotype which surrounds the Winchester aesthetic. Most of this revolves around the misconception that everyone is exceedingly posh. Now this isn’t completely without good reason, we have the College, a whole lot of old buildings and some pretty sky-high house prices, but that doesn’t mean everyone is wandering around in hunting gear or academic gowns.

Obviously, I don’t mean to offend anyone. I’m rather a fan of the heritage look – oilskin jackets, riding boots etc. and for any place with its own branch of Gieves & Hawkes, there really is no escaping an aura of ‘posh’-ness. But when I talk to these friends who see Winchester in a certain light, there is a stereotype of the average Wintonian who wonders from café to café, buying organic produce and occasionally stopping to play croquet. I imagine this image is in part my own fault for fitting it quite well, if only in a love for cafés and croquet (there’s a pitch at the end of my road). But I just wanted to set the record straight because there are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there.

There is a whole array of style tribes and trendy individuals stalking the High Street. Just take a few minutes to walk along it and you’ll see a group of college students experimenting with different patterned leggings and tasselled bags. You’ll see a local artist rushing happily to the craft shop in a floaty top and paint-spattered utilitarian overshirt. There will be scores of smiling mothers with pushcairs (who always seem to know eachother) looking wholesome in shades of white, grey and blue. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a sight of some street performer in their most outrageous costume yet and looking like they just wondered out of Hat Fair weekend. Perhaps a sporty person will wiz past on a bike in bright tennis whites. You’ll see young professionals on their lunchbreaks, who stick to the office dress code while letting their personality shine through in accents of colour and print. And yes, you can always rely on a sighting of the café set, gentlemen and ladies who appear polished, refined and yet perfectly effortless. They will always have a conversation piece in their outfit, just to get the chatter going over their brunch with friends.

Photograph by Alix Rothnie @alixroth

So if you don’t live in Winchester, please, feel free to make all the generalisations you want about the city and its residents, but before you do, make sure to take a look around. Not just in the usual tourist traps: explore a side street, find an interesting shop, talk to the people, breathe in the atmosphere, maybe buy an organic cheese and take a look at the clothes of people who pass you. Perhaps then, you’ll rethink your opinion of Winchester’s fashion sense.

words by Alys Key @FashionMoriarty

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