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The College Scarf

1125 of 1160 nominations


The College Scarf

Is this an icon?


The College Scarf

Essential for those long winter days spent scribbling your thesis in unheated university libraries (or not), the college scarf proudly displays your affiliation to the world.

Traditionally the scarves are a generous 6ft long and are made of double thickness pure wool with lengthwise stripes in the college colours. The colours of the stripes, how many there are and the width between them make each institution’s design unique. Insiders will recognise the college by the colours – authentic scarves do not have the name of the college embroidered on them. Pioneered by the sports clubs of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, many of the more traditional universities and schools in Britain and around the world have adopted the idea. And they’re not just sported by current students; you can keep wearing them through the rest of your life, but this will mean that you may be clapped on the shoulders by complete strangers at bus stops and be subjected to their reminiscences of your shared “alma mater”. So be warned.

Image: Topfoto.co.uk


Your comments

Just as Swedish and German students are distinguished by their cute hats, worn on more formal occasions, their counterparts in Britain would sling long scarves in their college or university colours around their necks. Then, in the 1960s, when the universal logoed sweater became sexy, they were discarded by the thousand. A pity since Britain has less and less that distinguishes us from our neighbours.

miles roddis

Just wanted to point out that the college scarf began its days in the University of London's colleges and not the more famous Oxbridge colleges as stated.
Neil Littlewood

I used to love my college scarf at Oxford - I never actually wore it because it seemed a tad naff to advertise one's superiority in the Norrington tables around town, but now I occasionally see someone wearing Wadham's familiar brown on the tube, and sure enough, they're reading the Socialist Worker - you are secure in the knowledge that you know who you're dealing with!

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye