College Wardrobe Essentials – Party & Going Out Edition

While everyone can use college wardrobe essentials, not everyone is interested or planning on going out or to parties. This one is also much more trend specific than others, but I included a bunch of basic categories to help keep this post as general as possible. Additionally, this post is geared towards students as schools in the midwest but is also applicable for those pretty much everywhere but the south, New York City, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. Schools in those areas tend to have much more dressy outfits for going out compared to everyone else.


Tops are going to be the most wide range of options. There are a few different types that are common, crop tops, tank tops, and body suits. Within these categories there are a variety of popular trends to pick from like lace up (whether in the front, back, or sides), rouched, exposed seams, cut outs (including backless), lingerie (aka lace and satin styles), and mesh. Bright colors and fun patterns also dominate this category. Thats not to say that basics aren’t utilized, but when many people wear basic bottoms, fun tops allow for them to show their personality better.

Whatever you pick it is important to make sure that it fits well. You don’t want to be adjusting it the entire time you are out. Additionally, it can get super hot so you will want to stick to lighter fabrics.


Many of the bottoms you bring to wear to class and around campus are perfectly fine for going out. Many people wear jeans (straight is the most in style right now but skinny always works), flared leggings, patterned pants (or jeans), and in the summer jean shorts. Skirts are definitely an option as well, but the possibility of them riding up makes them less popular.


Every semester fraternities, both social and business, and some clubs are going to have formals and date parties (not the ones where they are paired with sororities). The dress code for these is almost always something similar to a high school homecoming. Some good ones are this, this, and this.


In terms of shoes, the most important thing is that you realize no matter how careful you are, your shoes will get dirty or ruined. You’ll end up walking outside and stepping in mud or dirty while going to places. Additionally, the floor at many bars and most parties are covered in beer. A lot of people will just drop their empty drinks on the ground, creating beer puddles throughout the room. Many people have one pair of shoes they you specifically for going out or parties due to this.

You will also want to make sure that the shoes you wear are comfortable, because you will be standing and walking in them for hours. It is also best that you wear closed toed shoes. For the same reason that you want to wear shoes you do not care about, you will want to keep your toes protected from the same messes.

Some of the most popular shoes for going out are air force 1s, nike blazers, high top converse (or platform ones), and doc martens.


When it comes to accessories for when you go out, you can accessories however you’d like. However, just like shoes it is important that you are mindful that anything you bring or wear could get damaged or lost. Additionally, when you’re in a crowded party or bar, there is the possibility that you can have these items stolen.

In regards to purses, they are not something I would recommend bringing with you, nor are they something that are popular to have. Instead many people keep everything in their pockets. I would recommend a small card holder like this or this.

Another popular option is phone wallets. You do not really need much when you go out, so this is a great option if you ca streamline well. My only word of caution is that you are mindful of where your phone is. I know quite a few people who have lost their phones while out and ended up losing all of their cards as well.

I would look into getting a small bracelet to attach your keys to, but a hair tie will also work in many cases. Simply thread the loop through the key hole, and pull the small loop you pulled through, through the larger loop on the other side of the key.


There will end up being a lot of themed parties and even some themed bar nights. Combine this with halloweekend, and you will want to bring clothes for themes and costumes. Some of the most popular themes are neon, ski, 80s, bikini/hawaii/pool/foam, country, and all white/black/etc. You do not need to go out and buy items for many of these, and will have a lot of these on hand. Some of useful items are windbreakers (for ski and 80s, and depending on the color neon), flannels, winter hats, sports bras, a basic neon top, and a bikini top.

If you intend on joining a sorority, you will end up needing even more themed items as they have almost weekly themed gatherings. In this case you may also encounter themes like 2000s, groutfit (grey outfit), american, and decades.

I hope these ideas help you when it comes to picking out outfits for parties and going out. If you are looking for more wardrobe essentials, check out my original college wardrobe essentials, sorority edition, and shoe edition.

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