Let's be real — if you're living in a dorm come autumn, your new closet space is going to be limited. While clothes may be the last thing on your mind with all the changes you're about to encounter, don't completely write off dressing for success. As Edith Head once said, "You can have anything you want. If you dress for it." But, no need to fear, dressing well does not have to be difficult or expensive. Before you resign yourself to a semester of living in pajamas, remember to pack these essential items.
1. Basic white tee
It might seem obvious, but a basic white T-shirt without graphics is a MUST. You can opt for a loosely draped style or a more fitted one.
Bonus points: Once you find a fit you like, you can get it in multiple colors!
2. Sweatpants, joggers or harem pants
Whoever said sweatpants are a fashion faux pas is a liar. Sweatpants are in. Thanks to brands like Nike and Adidas Originals, sporty has become synonymous with trendy. Regardless, if wearing comfortable pants is conducive to you getting an A, you wear those fricking sweatpants! If I still haven't sold you on the sweatpants, you can opt for some cute joggers or harem pants for a more bohemian style.
3. Flip flops
When you're rushing to get to your 8 a.m. class because you overslept, slip-on shoes are a great timesaver. You'll also probably want another pair to use as shower shoes.
Pro tip: When choosing which flip flops to use as shower shoes, make sure you get the kind that won't foam up when they get wet. Otherwise, you'll be faced with that awful squeaking noise you get with wet sneakers every time you walk and leaving a trail of suds from the bathroom leading directly to your dorm.
4. White button up
A crisp, white button up is one of those classic pieces that you can build nearly any type of look off of. Dress it up with a skirt and pretty pearls or dress it down with some shorts and a funky chunky necklace — the possibilities are endless.
A well-fitted blazer can add a touch of class to any look. Wear it over dark jeans, tailored shorts or your favorite set of matching separates to turn a casual daytime look into an interview-ready ensemble. Get one in a neutral color, like black, navy, white or khaki.
6. Dark wash jeans
Denim is a wonderful thing because not only is it sturdy, but it only requires washing after every five to six wears. In other words, jeans are the ultimate college-friendly piece of clothing. Dark wash jeans are great because they're easy to dress up with a button up and some flats or basic pumps. Whether you prefer hipsters or high-waisted, straight-leg or skinny, find the fit that flatters you and rock it.
Nothing screams classic more than the LBD, a.k.a. the little black dress. You can go for tighter bodycon dress, a wrap dress, a more classic cut or something in between. It's great for parties and nights out with friends, especially if you're going to be rushing.
Bonus points: Tone it down with a cardigan or blazer for an interview or internship.
8. Workout clothes
Even if the gym isn't your thing, you're going to want some nice workout clothes, including some stylish sneakers. If you're going to a larger university, there will be days when you're going to be walking a lot and you're going to be glad you invested in some decent running shoes. Amongst other things, college is an adventure and you want to be prepared for wherever it takes you. Who knows if you're going to join the school Quidditch team?
Pro tip: Clean gym clothes double well as pajamas and they save time on your way to a morning workout.
I love flannels — not the plaid printed polyester or rayon shirts, but actual flannels made of thick flannel material. I love them for keeping me warm in cold, air-conditioned classrooms and they're super light and easy to carry around. They're one of the few items of clothing that are actually fashionable to tie around the waist when it gets too hot. Plus, they're fun to thrift for at your neighborhood Goodwill or thrift store.
A chambray shirt is another great layering piece that's easy to carry around when it gets too hot. You can get a thinner one or a thicker one depending on the weather in your region. They even look great when worn as a plain button up shirt.
11. Black boots
Black boots are a staple for college students because, like most items on this list, they're incredibly versatile. Whether you prefer the convenience of slip-on Chelsea boots or the 90s grunge vibe of classic Doc Martens, invest in something sturdy that can withstand a lot of wear. Depending on the weather in your region, you may want to opt for a waterproof option.
12. Leather Jacket
I don't really recommend going out and buying a real leather jacket because not only are they super expensive, but they also get ruined by rain (dry cleaning is not exactly wallet-friendly). However, a great faux leather jacket is a fashion-forward replacement for your old sweatshirt and it can add a little edge to any outfit.
13. Something in your school colors
Whether it's in the form of a blue jacket with gold zippers, a shirt from your student store or some incredibly flamboyant yellow pants, you're going to want something in your school colors. The fact that you're going to college is something to be proud of so show some school pride!
Lead Image Credit: Kara Turner
Model Photo Credit: Kara Turner