Skip to main content

4th March 2024

Student Style Diaries #1: Effortlessly cool ‘grandpa in jorts’

In ‘Student Style Diaries’ read about Fashion and Beauty writer Elli’s personal style, her favourite pieces, and biggest fashion inspirations
Student Style Diaries #1: Effortlessly cool ‘grandpa in jorts’
Credit: Collage by Maia Penny @ The Mancunion

‘Student style diaries’ is a series at The Mancunion’s Fashion & Beauty section where students talk about their style, their all-time favourite pieces, and give advice on finding your own personal style.

Name: Elli Duke

Age: 20

Degree: French & Arabic

How would you describe your style in three words?

Grandpa in jorts.

What’s your go-to outfit?

It’s so boring, but my go-to outfit at the moment is just baggy jeans (my current faves are from Uniqlo) with a graphic tee, a knitted sweater (normally permanently ‘borrowed’ from my dad or thrifted), and my Timberlands or Adidas Spezials. No outfit is complete without a tonne of silver jewellery and a scarf. I normally wear one I’ve crocheted, but recently I’ve been wearing a scarf from Najma Collective that I got for Christmas – they’re actually made by a 4th year Arabic student at UoM! I have dyed red hair at the moment, and I feel like that does something to spruce up my really average, day-to-day uni outfits.

Credit: Eleanor Duke @ The Mancunion

What (or who) has inspired your sense of style the most?

I can’t lie, I’m a sucker for Pinterest, but my biggest fashion inspirations are probably Zoe Kravitz and Beabadoobee – they both have this kind of effortlessly-cool thing going on, which I love. Trying to look effortless is seemingly impossible, but I love the way that they both play with texture and mix feminine and androgynous pieces, like a cute tank top with a grandpa sweater and jorts. I tried a more budget version of this when I went to The Warehouse Project back in December, pairing a glittery top (borrowed from my best mate) with jorts and massive Doc Martens (borrowed from my housemate Fifi, who has become something of my personal stylist and shares her wardrobe with me).

Credit: Eleanor Duke @ The Mancunion

What’s your favourite outfit you’ve ever worn?

This is such a hard question.

One outfit that was really special was what I wore for my Seijinshiki (成人式) photo. Seijinshiki is the coming of age ceremony in Japan – it’s 20 rather than 18 like in the UK and a proper studio photoshoot is a part of the celebrations, along with a massive family dinner. For my Seijinshiki photo, I was actually able to wear the kimono that my Mum wore for her coming of age over 30 years ago (sorry mum, she’s 21 at heart). We spent hours picking out the perfect accessories and combinations to compliment the beautiful silk kimono; it is one of the times that an outfit has made me feel genuinely proud and empowered, and knowing that my Mum wore it for her 20th too just made it even more special.

Credit: Eleanor Duke @ The Mancunion

Have you always dressed in the same way or have you gone through phases and tried different aesthetics?

I wouldn’t say much has changed, but I’d like to think I’ve come more into my own, and my style has matured a bit.

I was a bit of an insufferable emo-indie kid in my early teens, so I wore my Doc Martens to death (I still do, really). I’ve always gravitated towards more casual, androgynous looks, with baggy jeans being a wardrobe staple since 2017. I’ve definitely been inspired by what’s popular online; the art-hoe aesthetic was a massive influence back when I was just figuring out what kind of clothes I wanted to wear. My trusty, overpriced Fjallraven Kanken backpack is still my go-to today, nine years later.

Who is your favourite designer?

It has to be Vivienne Westwood. Her unconventional silhouettes and tartan frenzy make high fashion so exciting – her 90s and early noughties runways are my absolute favourite. Sandy Liang also deserves a special mention in my eyes; her nostalgic, hyperfeminine collections are so beautiful, and I’ve tried to find ways to incorporate some DIY Liang-inspired bowmania elements into my own style. Her SS24 collection is to die for.


Sandy Liang SS24 #nyfw #newyorkfashionweek #sandyliang

♬ sprinkle of nostalgia – :0

What’s your favourite piece in your wardrobe?

It’s a tie between three items I’ve inherited from my parents. My Mum has given me two leather jackets from her 90s wardrobe; one is a beautiful black leather Burberry blazer that gets a lot of wear in spring and autumn, and the other is a heavy Avirex brown leather jacket that I’ve been wearing every day this winter. Throwing either over jeans and a T-shirt automatically just makes me feel cooler and more put-together.

Credit: Eleanor Duke @ The Mancunion

My other favourite piece is a vintage Japanese football shirt from 2000, which my Dad handed down to me. It’s so cool, and it’s a nice way to show my Japanese patriotism in a way that is also stylish. I often get a lot of compliments on it, and it was particularly well-received at Squirrels during the World Cup last year.

Credit: Eleanor Duke @ The Mancunion

Do you have any advice on how to find a personal style?

Pinterest and social media are great places to find inspiration, but (and it’s so cringe to say) your style has to come from within, and you have to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. What works for some people won’t work for you – equally, push yourself out of your comfort zone and figure out your limits! Manchester is such a great place for that – I’m always inspired by the outfits I see on campus.

More Coverage

The evolution of Coachella fashion: From glam to casual, has the fun faded?

Looking back at the biggest festival of the year and why it was such a disappointment for fashion fans

On screen style report #8: Samantha Jones

How would the original girlboss, Samantha Jones, tear up Manhattan in 2024? One showstopping look at a time…

The most iconic closets from TV and Film

Closets that never end, closets that pick your outfit for you, and closets controlled with a remote… ah the life of a fictional girlboss

Summer’s best defence: The top five sunscreen picks for your skincare

Shield your skin from harmful UV rays with our top five sunscreen picks; from lightweight formulas to advanced skincare benefits, these sunscreens offer protection and nourishment for summer-ready skin