Clothing Essentials For Your College Wardrobe

Lifehacks Student Life
Alex Ponomarenko
Aug 19, 2019

One of the most challenging aspects of your college life is packing your stuff. Assuming that you come from a home with fair space for storage, you will be moving into a shared dormitory with extremely limited space. Downsizing is necessary, as this means you will not be able to bring as much as you can, no matter how hard you try.  You will be bringing your essentials with you, of course - like your laptop, some books, perhaps that childhood stuffed toy, your favourite blanky, and maybe a few of your plant babies – but packing clothes is an entirely different story. The contents of your wardrobe surely will not fit in your luggage, and truth be told, do you really have to look your gorgeous best at all times? College is not the time for that. Hangovers and sleepless nights call for hoodies and jeans, nothing more. Well, maybe some parties and part-time job opportunities will require more than just sneakers, so perhaps there should be room for more presentable pieces. There is also the issue of laundry – the more clothes you have, the bigger the laundry you will have to deal with. The secret to dealing with figuring out your college wardrobe is coming up with a list. Here is our clothing essentials list:


  • T-shirts
  • Casual tops
  • Sweaters
  • Formal top (button downs, blouses)


  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Trousers 


  • Jacket
  • Cardigans
  • Winter jacket

Shoes and accessories

  • Sneakers
  • Rain boots
  • Flip flops
  • Selected jewelry (earrings, necklaces)
  • Watch
  • Tote bag
  • Backpack
  • Duffel bag
  • Hat 
  • Sunglasses

Other essentials

  • Sleepwear
  • Workout clothes
  • Shower shoes
  • Bathrobe

Your College Wardrobe Clothing Essentials Guide

A list is an incredibly helpful tool, but a few more insights would not hurt. College is a fresh start, but the preparation and the transition always poses as a challenge. Clothes are always one of the hardest bits, next to saying goodbye to your favourite furry friend , family, and friends. This guide tackles which of your wardrobe you should and should not leave at home, designed to help you curate your college wardrobe clothing essentials.

The Leave-at-Home Items

  • High School T-shirts

You will not be needing those high school T-shirts anymore, so leave them behind. You will be stocking up again anyway, should you decide to join a fraternity or sorority, and the ones you’ve brought will sit in your storage collecting dust. Perhaps a t-shirt or two as part of your clothing essentials is fine, but any more than that is excessive.

  • "In-Between" Clothes

These ‘’in-between” clothes are those that fall in between fancy and casual, the kind where you wear out to family dinners or church on Sundays. Your life in college will not call for clothes like these, so it is best if you leave them at home. Perhaps you should bring an outfit or two fitting for interviews and presentations, but other than that, pack a little bit lighter.

  • Off-Season Clothes

The academic year usually starts in August, so chances are you will not be needing much of your winter clothes, no matter how much enthused you are about your collection of boots. For colder days, a heavy duty jacket will be more than enough, along with sweaters. Leave other off-season clothes in a box at home, so that your parents can readily send them to you if needed. You will be able to survive until Thanksgiving break for a much needed college wardrobe replenishment. 

  • Halloween Costumes 

Halloween happens only once a year, but it is well-known that the weekend is filled to the brim with parties. Around 2 to 4 costumes will be necessary for themed festivities, but do not bring your entire stash of costumes. Most costumes are bulky and that will not do for your matchbox dorm room – where would you lifesaving microwave go? As with off-season clothes, opt to have them shipped out by your parents weeks prior to the parties. Just bring them back home with you over Thanksgiving break – full proof plan!

The Necessities

  • Your Go-to Clothes for Class

When it comes to classes, especially those that start at 8:30 AM, comfort is key. Perhaps an investment in sports attire is in order – maximum comfort is always guaranteed. These pieces will also come in handy for workouts, and even casual wear.

  • Going Out Clothes

Parties in college are the norm, so packing going out clothes is a must. They are different from your Sunday best. Think: cool. Hit the mall for some fun items, but make sure they are inexpensive. College parties are always wild, so expect that these pieces will get spilled on, puked on, and even borrowed. You do not have to have much, as you are very much entitled to that college wardrobe loaning system, too.

  • Accessories 

Accessories make or break your outfit – jewelry storage is quite easy, so by all means bring as much as you can! They can also act as part of your room décor, provided that they be given the perfect spot. Pack those statement necklaces, studs, watched, and earrings – you will easily be transforming any outfit. Say good bye to buying new clothes!

  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing

This part depends entirely on your college’s location , so it is integral that you research beforehand. Princeton means winter parkas, the UCLA means shorts, and NYU could mean rain boots. The trick here is simple: be smart. Walking to your classes is the norm no matter the weather.  

One last thing to remember as you begin packing (or re-packing, for that matter!): if you do not wear it at home, you will not wear it at college. If you are having second thoughts about a certain item, and your love for it wavers, leave it. As mentioned, you can always place them in a box for shipment as necessary. Getting ready for college is stressful enough as it is, and the added pressure of figuring out which of your belongings you will be needing for your entire stay is enough to send anyone into a raging fit. Although complicated, packing clothing essentials for your college wardrobe is doable. Hopefully this little list and guide is enough to ease the situation a bit.

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Written by
Alex Ponomarenko
I am a content manager from California, US. I started as a content writer intern eleven years ago and became a content manager six years after. I joined CustomEssayMeister five years ago and enjoy being a part of the team every day.

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