My College Wardrobe Essentials post is my most popular blog post every year, but I haven’t updated it since 2019. Here’s a more in-depth and helpful version, more aligned with current college fashion. While everyone has a different sense of style, here’s my recommendations on the clothing items every college girl should have in their wardrobe.
(disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you)
1. Black Jeans
Black jeans are probably one of the most versatile clothing items you can have. You can wear them to class or you can dress them up for going out or nice dinners with friends. These can be skinny or straight, whatever you personally prefer. Many girls bring a normal pair and a ripped pair to have more versatility.
Sneakers are a super important thing to bring with you to college because of the comfort they bring. When you walk to class everyday, it is important that you are comfortable. Additionally, if you ever go to the campus gym or simply on a walk with friends, sneakers will be helpful there. The two most popular styles right now are white air force 1s and platform converse because they look good with almost everything. Nike blazers and jordan’s are starting to gain more popularity as well.
3. Dressy Outfit
You really only need one dressy outfit with you at college. This is super important when it comes to internship interviews, career fairs, or any important presentations. Try to pick something that won’t easily wrinkle, and that will work in all seasons.
Most people pick a suit jacket and slacks and a solid colored button up. You’ll want to make sure that these items fit well. If they’re the wrong size you’ll be frequently adjusting them during events or you,l look less professional.
If you plan to be in greek life or a professional student organization you may want a few outfits. You’ll not only be more likely to attend events that require them, but many require business wear for their weekly chapters or meetings.
(if you want more closet essentials for greek life specifically you can find my guide here)
4. Dressy Shoes
Along with a dressy outfit you will want at least one pair of dressy shoes. While I recommend a pair of nude heels, you can also go with a nice pair of flats if they aren’t your thing. You’ll want nice shoes to go with your dressy outfit, out on dates, to certain parties/campus events.
If you’ll be joining greek life, I would recommend having a few pairs of dressy shoes, The basics would be a black pair of heels, a nude pair of heels, and some type of dressy booties for when it’s colder out.
Jeans are a great item to have because you can pretty much wear them in every situation. To class, to work, to games, and going out. You will probably want to bring multiple pairs, depending on how frequently you wear jeans and ripped ones if you plan on wear jeans to go out.
Straight leg jeans are the most popular ones right now and you can find some great ones here and here. Patterned and colored jeans are also becoming more trendy, so you may want a pair of thee as well.
6. Leggings and Bike Shorts
Leggings are one of the best items to bring to college because not only are they incredibly comfortable, but also because they look nicer than sweatpants do. Plus you can always layer them under jeans if you go to school in a super cold climate. My all time favorites are these from lululemon but for a good quality cheaper version I like these and these.
Bike shorts are another popular item in college fashion right now. They’re comfortable like leggings but a bit more stylish. They’re also great for walking a lot compared to other types of shorts because the length in longer and won’t ride up or cause you to chafe.
(if you want to see more amazon activewear recommendations click here)
7. Rain Coat
Regardless of where you go to college, it is going to rain at some point. And the absolute worst thing is having to walk to class in the rain, get soaked, and then have to awkwardly sit in class when you’re soaked. While an umbrella can be helpful in lighter rain, it the wind is bad or its really pouring, it just wont protect you the same way a rain coat will.
8. Collegiate Wear
When you go to campus events (particularly sporting events) you will want to have plenty of gear with your campuses mascot/team on it. If you go to a school with a big football team, it is likely that you’ll want plenty of cute items to wear as well. Many times these can be found at places like Hype and Vice or even DIYed from thrift store shirts.
If you’re in a school in the northeast or mid west you may want fo get a bib. These are overalls with vertical stripes down them in your schools colors.
Additionally, if you know you’re someone who will want to go out frequently, it can be worth it to make sure one of these items is a jersey as this is a popular party theme.
9. Costume Items
This one is only relevant if you intend to be in greek life or to go out/to parties. Many times parties and mixers will have themes to them and it can help to bring some items if you already own them. Some of the most popular themes are neon, 80s, skiing, america, country, and beach/hawaii. I would recommend a neon top, a windbreaker, scrunches, a hawaiian shirt, a bikini, a flannel,and a bandana.
(if you want to see more outfit essentials for parties specifically you can find my guide here)
If you’re not the type to dress up for class, having some nice (probably oversized) t-shirts are an essential. You can go for something more like a fashionable graphic tee or go with something more along the lines of comfort colors/hanes style basic t-shirts. They can be worn with pretty much any bottom. You can wear them to class, to workout, and to sleep, making them super versatile.
You will probably want at least one crewneck sweatshirt and at least one zip up sweatshirt. These can be worn as a top or can be layered over other shirts. They’ll also be super helpful in classes if your building is cold.
The type of sweaters you bring will vary depending on the climate. Lighter or more airy loose knit sweaters will be more desirable for warmer climates but cooler places you may prefer chunky knit items instead. Sweater vests are also a good variation to have as a more casual piece that can be layered with other basics.
I would recommend bring one swimsuit with you to college, more if you’ll be going to school in a warm climate. A lot of colleges have pools available in their gym or rec center, and some even have swim based workout courses. Additionally, there are normally a few events that happen each school year where you may want a swimsuit. My school hosts wipeout every year for the student the first week of classes, and some clubs will do water based fundraisers like battleship. A swimsuit will also be great if you are invited to a beach themed party or even if you want to tan when it’s warm out.
14. Workout Clothes
The amount of workout clothes you want to bring to college will really depend on how active you are. Most colleges and universities have gyms and rec centers where you can work out and many even offer free group fitness classes. You can even take this a step further and take a workout course through your college. Depending on the climate you may want a good workout outfit for walking or hiking.
Many people also wear workout clothes to their classes or to sleep in due to how comfortable they are. A good basic pair of leggings, a sports bra, and a pair of shorts will take you far. You can use t-shirts (especially the free ones you’ll get at the start of the year) as tops for workouts if you do not want to bring workout specific tops.
15. Winter Clothes
The level and amount of winter clothes you bring will heavily depend on where your school is located. In warmer climates a light winter coat will work just fine. But if you are anywhere cooler you will need a thick winter coat, a hat, gloves, and a scarf. Winter boots are also important. There are a variety of styles and types and you’ll need to decide which is better for you. UGGs are always a popular option due to the warm interior but waterproof duck boot are also a great option.
If you will be in a particularly cold place, you will also want to have some good base layers. I would make sure you have a good long sleeve layer, a pair of warm under tights or fleece lined leggings, and multiple pairs of thick socks.
(if you are going off to school somewhere that gets cold in the winter, check out my post here with more in depth winter related essentials)
youtube: Katelyn Leigh