College is a life-changing experience for anyone. The college experience has a different shock factor for every girl, depending on your situation and where you attend. Some young women who decide to attend university far away from their hometown experience a major culture shock when they arrive at their chosen school. Others have a bit less to adjust to if they choose a local school and are already familiar with the area and its norms.
No matter where you go to college or what you’re studying, however, creating the perfect ‘college wardrobe’ can be a challenging hurdle for any fashion lover. The life you’ve had throughout your childhood and adolescence goes through huge changes when you leave for college. You don’t live in your childhood home anymore. The dreaded dress code you cursed through high school is long gone. You probably don’t have your car with you at your dorm, so you have to walk or bike or bus everywhere. Your new bedroom is half the size of your at-home one and you share it with a brand-new stranger. Almost everything in your life is different, so it makes sense that your wardrobe needs to change too.
1. Focus on the Essentials
When you break it down to essentials, creating a functional and practical college wardrobe becomes much more simple. Regardless of the university you attend, there are many universal essentials that all college girls need in their dorm closet. You’ll need everyday staples. Plan on packing multiple pairs of jeans, basic tops, casual tennis shoes, and flip-flops. However, there are other items you should also bring that might not be quite as obvious.
It’s a good idea to invest in a few pairs of real pajamas. You don’t have to wear a full flannel PJ set, but if you sleep naked or in a giant T-shirt at home, at least buy a few pairs of shorts and crop tops that somewhat match. You’ll be seen in your pajamas much more frequently in college than you might think, whether it’s just by your dorm or suite mates or by your entire dorm floor when you’re on your way to the bathroom in the morning. Another underrated essential is a formal dress. It will probably gather dust in your tiny dorm closet for most of the year, but every woman should always be prepared with a nice dress. You’ll be happy you have it with you if an occasion when you need it arises.
2. Prioritize Comfort
Comfort is key when it comes to a quality college wardrobe. College is a big adjustment and it comes with a lot of stress and business along with. When you’re rushing from the coffee shop to class to a sorority party to the dining hall to your dorm and back to campus all in one day, you don’t want to be worrying about your shorts riding up or the straps of your crop top digging into your shoulders.
When you buy new outfits to bring with you to college, ask yourself if they’re comfortable before you buy them and be honest with yourself about the answer. If you bring a wardrobe of cute and completely impractical clothes to college with you, you’ll end up wearing the same black tee and skinnies again and again. It’s a much better idea to prepare yourself with a wide variety of comfortable pieces and bring them with you from the get go.
3. Be an Outfit Repeater
Dorm closets are extremely tiny. Because you have limited space in college, it’s a good idea to invest in a variety of pieces that work multiple ways. That means you should fill your closet with versatile basics like solid tees, crop tops, high-waisted jeans and shorts, and sweaters that can be paired together in many different ways.
4. Don’t Fall Into a Sweatshirt Slump
There’s nothing wrong with sweatshirts and sweats and you will inevitably end up wearing them to class sometimes, especially if you’ve cursed yourself with an 8 a.m. However, if you don’t want to look like every other college freshman dragging herself around in a sweatshirt, arm yourself with the wardrobe you need to avoid this dreaded sweatshirt slump.
Invest in multiple pairs of quality leggings. Good leggings are almost as comfortable as sweats, but they’re much cuter. Grab cheap fitted tees whenever you find them, too. They’ll help you stay comfy in class but make it clear that you do, in fact, have a figure.
5. Mix Cute and Practical
Your outfits can be both cute and practical; you don’t have to choose between the two. Rely on basics as the foundation of your wardrobe, but buy basics that you actually like and look forward to putting on in the morning. You can also dress up your simplistic looks with comfortable accessories, like a pendant necklace or a fashion scarf.
6. Know When to Dress Up and When to Dress Down
It is not necessary and not recommended to wear your cutest off-the-shoulder romper and a pair of wedge heels to your 8 a.m. American history section. Most everyday activities in college warrant casual outfits. There are not many times when you’ll need to get dressed up. Even the majority of college parties call for casual wear or wacky costumes before a formal dress.
You do still need minimal professional and formal outfit options in college, however. When you go to a job interview, to meet one-on-one with a professor, or out on a date, you’ll need to be able to put together a less casual look.
7. Get the Right Shoes
Stilettos might be your favorite type of shoe, but they’re just not going to fly in college. When you’re in college, you’re going to be walking a lot. It’s important to buy shoes that are comfortable first and cute second. Make sure that every pair of shoes you buy has supportive soles that will allow you to walk long distances comfortably.
Nikes, Converse, and flip-flops will be your saving graces when it comes to shoes in college. When the time comes for more formal shoes, opt for wedges, chunky heels, or scrappy sandals unless you want to walk back to your dorm after a party limping and carrying your pinchy shoes in your hands.
Creating a college wardrobe is a challenge for every girl. There’s no need to spend your entire life savings on a brand new clothing collection before you leave for school. Use the essentials you already have, keep things simple, and try not to stress. There are much bigger things than your wardrobe to focus on in college, but you’ll feel better with a closet that’s prepared for any adventures and new experiences that come your way.