10 college wardrobe essentials to put on your packing list

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The first year of university is difficult. Starting over, making new friends or, for some, moving away from home, are all challenges college students face. But forget all that. My biggest question in freshman year of college was what to bring to wear!

If you’re like me, you probably suffer from overpack syndrome, where every item of clothing you own to have to come with you. I mean, what if you need to wear that jacket you haven’t worn since college?

But speaking from experience, I’m a recent college grad, so I can confidently say that your entire wardrobe doesn’t need to make the trip to your tiny dorm room. Also, once you get past the first few weeks of school, you start wearing pretty much the same outfit every day anyway (especially if your laundry room is in a different building).

To help take the stress out of all that packing for college, I’ve compiled a list of essential items needed for your wardrobe.


This one may be a given, but a pair of simple Converse Low Top or Air Force 1 can go a long way. I prefer Converse or Nike because of their universality and simplicity. I also recommend packing a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Going to frat parties, bars, and tailgates can get messy, and there’s nothing worse than seeing a brand new pair of shoes get destroyed in an hour.


If you go to school in scorching heat or when nights out with friends don’t reign supreme, this won’t be a necessity for your list. However, many North School students will certainly appreciate bringing a “fracket”, i.e. a fraternity jacket. A fraternity jacket is any type of inexpensive winter coat you wear between Uber and fraternity. It’s a jacket you love, but if you lost it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I recommend going to your local thrift store, using your mother’s Kohl’s money, or buying from any clearance section when getting your fracket. In fact, Abercrombie has the Utility Puffer on sale for $34, which would make the perfect fracket.


College can be fun and fun most of the time, but you don’t want to be caught off guard when it’s time to get down to business. Having a pair of dress pants and a nice matching blouse comes in handy when presenting or attending networking events and meetings. You don’t have to spend a fortune at Nordstrom for designer clothes; dress pants from Kohl’s or Target will do just fine.

Urban outfitters

It’s a to have to. Feeling comfortable and confident in the clothes you wear when you go out on the town makes every night 10 times better. There are so many types of going out tops, but I’ve been loving the corset look lately. My favorite corset is the Out From Under corset from Urban Outfitters.

By the way, many fraternities tend to have themed parties, so having a neon shirt or a plaid shirt can be helpful.

Old Navy

Activewear really took off once the pandemic hit its peak, and the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Students no longer need to feel the pressure of donning skinny jeans and an uncomfortable top just to look cute on the way to class. All you need is a pair of biker leggings or shorts with any type of top or sports bra, and you’re good to go!

Athleisure clothing sets can cost anywhere from $25 at Amazon to $300 at Lululemon. I recommend you go to Old Navy if you are looking for quality sportswear at a reasonable price.


While I love statement pieces, having a few basic tank tops that can easily be layered with jackets and other accessories is handy for putting together any outfit. Basic tank tops are economical and will save you space in limited dorm room storage. I recommend the $13 Zara seamless tops.

Dr Martens

OK, so it might just be a style choice, but a black boot can take any outfit from casual to night-ready. My friends and I all own different variations of black boots. I prefer a Chelsea boot when I go to a more casual event, but when I go out I like a black boot with a little heel.


Although I didn’t go to a big SEC or Big 10 school, all of my friends who did spent the whole year planning their outfits for football season. If you go to school where sports are all the rage, I recommend checking out LF for some cute, albeit expensive, shirts and sweatshirts.

If that’s too expensive, there are hundreds of Etsy stores that customize tailgating clothes at a more reasonable price; I recommend ShopDartyGalz. By the way, to spice up your outfit, I recommend a varsity t-shirt with a white tennis skirt.

forever 21

A comfortable pair of joggers will come in handy when you’re running to the grocery store, going to class, or hanging out with your friends. Joggers are comfortable and make outfits look a little more put together than sweatpants. I owned the same pair of Forever 21 Joggers all through college and would definitely recommend them.


Owning a dress that can be worn for fancy dinners, dances or beautiful parties will save you time and money to go shopping at the mall or buy a last minute dress online. Throughout college, you’ll inevitably be faced with the challenge of having to dress for an event, and it’s best to have a dress you already love in your closet. I suggest having both a cocktail dress and a longer formal dress on hand.

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