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The 12 Pieces Of Clothing You'll Need For A Complete College Wardrobe

Your dorm room is small. Your wardrobe should be too.

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Dorms can be a lot of fun. The lack of space, though? Not so much. Make the most of the concrete box you call home by keeping your possessions to a minimum. That means only bringing the clothes you need, not necessarily the ones you want. Remember, if it fits in a suitcase, it'll fit in a dorm room!

Jeans for every occasion


Whether you're meeting a professor or sitting on the lawn listening to your roommate's terrible band, jeans have you covered. Bring along two pairs: a lighter set that you can get dirty, and a dark blue pair (ideally non-distressed) for more formal events.

Bottoms (non-jeans edition)


That being said, jeans don't work for every occasion, and it won't hurt to have another option when you need to class things up. For men, a good pair of chinos fits in almost everywhere. Women can bring a skirt or dress instead—just make sure it's something that you can wear to class as well as a party.

Tops (for the ladies)


Women should bring their five favorite tops, as well as a t-shirt to wear on laundry days. When shopping, think in terms of flexibility, not outfits; the more you can mix-and-match your clothes, the better. You'll also want a light sweater. A camisole is a good bet too, since it can be used outdoors or under a jacket during formal events.

Tops (for the dudes)

Guys can get away with a stack of four or five t-shirts—just make sure that one is plain white and fits under a dress shirt. A couple of collared casual shirts and at least one button-up dress shirt are a must, as well. Just leave the wife beaters at home, bro.

Sports jacket or blazer


You're in college. You're poor. Everyone knows that. Still, when that wealthy uncle comes into town and takes you out for dinner, you don't want to be stuck with a loaner jacket. Trust us. While you don't need a full suit, both men and women should have a blazer ready-at-hand; men might want to pair that with a utilitarian navy blue tie as well.

A good coat


No, that old hoodie is not a good idea, even if the mustard stains do bring out your eyes. And yes, that designer cardigan is super-cute, but hypothermia just isn't your color. Try something in-between, like a peacoat—it'll keep you warm, and it'll look good in almost any situation.

Brand new exercise gear

Cherry Point / Via Flickr: mcas_cherry_point

Studies have shown that people who invest in fitness equipment are much more likely to actually use it. If you look good, you'll feel good, making it that much easier to work off the dreaded freshman-fifteen. Besides, you know that cute guy who works the smoothie bar? He's totally checking you out.

Shoes for walking, shoes for partying, and shoes for everything in-between


While everybody needs a good pair of sneakers, you'll want to make sure your feet are prepared for every possible occasion. Guys can get away with a single pair of brown shoes (consider monkstraps), but the ladies will want both a pair of flats (for when there's a lot of walking) and heels (when there's not). Remember: black goes with almost everything!

More socks and underwear than (you think) you'll ever need

Karen Cardoza / Via Flickr: patriotworld

You know who forgets to do their laundry sometimes? Every college student ever. You'll be thankful for those back-ups during busy times like Homecoming or finals, when dirty undies should be the last thing on your mind.



A scarf is an easy way to shake up a wardrobe, and they take up practically no room. With one well-considered scarf, you can essentially double the number of potential outfits you've got. Consider bringing three or four or ten or seventeen...



When it comes to pajamas, choose something comfortable, but also make sure it's decent. When you sleep through your alarm after cramming for the next morning's exam, not having to stop and get dressed could make the difference between a passing and failing grade.

A bathing suit


It doesn't matter if you're going to school in Hawaii or Siberia, college is full of surprises. A squirt-gun fight, tropical road trip, or improvised beach party might pop up when you least expect it. Be vigilant, and be prepared.

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