In the course of procrastinating on work last night -- to be fair, I was feeling rather under the weather and could hardly find the energy to focus on my Facebook newsfeed, never mind readings about the Jagiellonians -- I stumbled upon the absolute gem of an article from the Cherwell, a student newspaper at Oxford, entitled "How to do sub-fusc in style." Sub-fusc, for those not in the know, is the name given to academic dress at Oxford; please see this post on matriculation for photographic evidence that I did not make this up, and, if you find yourself particularly keen on learning more, Oxford has kindly published the full litany of regulations governing academic dress on its website.
This article is hilarious from start to finish, and it is especially germane, given I am planning on relegating sub-fusc to Halloween costume status this year. I shall stop myself from reproducing it in full, but I really do insist on quoting from it extensively. My favourite part is bolded, with all due respect to those who read English:
Well, personally, I think the question should really be turned around: can you ever not sex up a subfusc? My goodness, those outfits are easily the kinkiest things to have happened to Oxford since the Earl of Rochester went to Wadham and developed a taste for debauchery, as anyone does after crossing Wadham's filthy threshold.
...I most certainly did not see the subfusc as sexy, but that might have had to do with the fact that I last wore mine in 1999 and therefore had 90s hair. No one looked sexy with 90s hair...
But ultimately, it is a question of attitude. Boys, think "Byronic" - hell, Rochesterian. This doesn't mean you should go around proclaiming "Much wine had passed, with grave discourse / Of who fucks who, and who does worse", unless you are an English student in which case you absolutely should quote that because it is, like, work. It means you should wear your subfusc with drama and flair, flicking that little cape around as you turn corners or, even better, letting it fly behind you as you cycle down the high street. For the ladies, I say "Maggie Gyllenhaal in the film Secretary" and I say no more. Although perhaps don't crawl into the exam hall with your pens in your mouth. I don't think that will work as well on the examiners as it did on James Spader.
(Just for the record, before any readers become too curious, I will not be taking this columnist's advice; after all, it's sub-fusc, not slut-fusc.)