The College Ready Wardrobe

The first semester of college is right around the corner and you are probably doing a lot. Maybe even the most. There’s orientation, course registration, dorm supplies and housing assignments all in addition to how you stay connected to family and friends, make new friends, and figure out your new life as a college student. As you’re thinking about this new chapter and packing up, don’t underestimate the importance your wardrobe.


Perhaps you’re 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'd like to to share a few gems with you.


You probably 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, possibly, attend a professional meet-and-greet or networking event. In these situations, you aren’t required to put on your Sunday best, but they are definitely more than casual. Not certain you have the pieces you need? I can help. Listed below are my suggestions for basic items to have in your freshman wardrobe:

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. (Dresses and skirts aren't for everyone, thus the asterisks.) The goal is to have a starter wardrobe for freshman year, not to spend hundreds of dollars. You may already own many of these items, 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. Think Ankara skirt or tie.


Also, you can use the tax-free weekend to soften the monetary impact when shopping for your freshman wardrobe. This year 17 states have one or more dates when sales tax is waived for items related to back-to-school. Use this link to find our if your state is one of those offering a tax free holiday and when it will be. https://www.thebalance.com/tax-free-weekends-1358029


If you notice, there is no suit included 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 for freshman year you don’t have to go all out. The items in the capsule will work even if you do have an interview. Later on, you can add pieces to your wardrobe as needed. Eventually you’ll need suits and business clothes, but for now, the basics will get you #CollegeReady.


This is blog post was originally published in July 2018.

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Tassel to Tassel provides guidance for the first year, arming you with the strategies necessary to navigate your new environment and increase your chances for college success.

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