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The College Ready Wardrobe

Updated: Jul 13, 2019

As you prepare for your first semester of college, I am certain lots of things are going through your head.  Orientation, course registration, dorm life, staying connected to family and friends, making new friends, etc.  As you’re packing up, don’t underestimate the importance your wardrobe.

You’re probably thinking, “I’m taking most (or all) of my clothes with me. I’m good.”  Are you?  You probably are.  However, because I’ve seen many things and I want you to be fully prepared for any academic/professional situation you may encounter during your first year, I decided to share a few gems with you.

I am certain you know what you want to look like when you go to class and what to wear in most social situations, but there is so much more to freshman life.  At some point this year you will make a class presentation and/or attend a department meet-and-greet.  In these situations, you aren’t required to put on your Sunday best, but it’s definitely more than casual.  Are you ready? You can be.  What you see below is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started should you need suggestions and/or not know where to start:

Ladies (or those who identify)

  • Blouse

  • Button down shirt

  • Trousers

  • Dark jeans

  • Cardigan sweater

  • Blazer

  • Dress*

  • Skirt*

  • Flat shoes

  • Heels/wedges

  • Belt

  • Accessories incl. jewelry

Gentlemen (or those who identify)

  • Polo shirt

  • Button down shirt

  • Tie

  • Sport coat/blazer

  • Khakis

  • Dark jeans

  • Trousers

  • Pullover sweater

  • Casual shoes (not sneakers)

  • Slightly dressy shoes

  • Belt

This is a basic capsule for first-year students that will get you through most situations.  The intention is to give you a starter wardrobe for freshman year, not to spend hundreds of dollars.  Many of these items you may own already but have not considered their utility in your freshman life.  If you are purchasing new items, try working with a specific color palette so mixing and matching to create different looks will be easy.  You can show off your personality by adding a bit of color and definitely through your accessories. It’s also cool to have classic silhouettes in different fabrics/prints.

You may have noticed I did not include a suit in either list.  First, I’m guessing you may already have one.  Mostly, it’s because as a freshman, there are very few situations for which a suit is necessary.  As an upperclassman, you may need to incorporate more pieces into your basic wardrobe for occasions such as career fairs and networking events, but again, you can add pieces to your wardrobe as needed.  Eventually you’ll need suits and business clothes, but for now, these basics will get you started.



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