You may want to look your best all of the time, but you also need to be practical about how much space you have in your room. How much dresser space will you have? Will you have a full closet to yourself, or will you have to share it with a roommate? How often will you have an occasion to wear that great dress? You need to think about these things before you can make final decisions about what to bring with you.

Don't buy new clothes and immediately pack them for college. Wash them once and wear them a little bit to make sure they are comfortable before heading to school. Your well-planned wardrobe will do you no good if you get to campus and find that a garment doesn't fit or it shrinks the first time you wash it.

Your initial clothing selection should get you from move-in day to your first trip home. Consider the climate where your school is located and pack accordingly. If you go to college in the Northeast, you may want some sweaters but you can probably leave the winter coat for your second trip. When you go home for fall break or Thanksgiving, you can take home summer and fall clothing and bring back winter items, such as coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. However, if your college is in the south, you may not need any winter clothing until second semester.

Starting with the basics, you should plan to have about ten or twelve pairs of underwear on hand. Though you will likely wash your clothes at least once a week, it's always a good idea to have some extras. This same rule of thumb applies to socks. There will be times, such as when you exercise, when you will change at least once in the same day.

You should remember some additional clothing including:

  • Bathing suit

  • Bathrobe

  • Exercise clothing

  • Nice dress

  • Pajamas

  • Rain jacket and umbrella

  • Sport coat

  • Sweaters

  • Sweatshirts and sweatpants

  • Ties

  • Shoes

    Shoes are an individual choice, but keep in mind that they take up a lot of space. You will definitely need at least one pair of each of the following: sneakers for exercise and athletics; flip-flops for the shower; dress shoes; and everyday shoes, such as loafers or walking sneakers. You may want hiking boots, if hiking is one of your interests, special shoes for biking, cleats for soccer or football, and other additional footwear. If sandals are your style, then you should absolutely bring a pair. Some students choose to have a pair of slippers for wearing around the residence hall, but this is up to you.


    It is necessary for you to bring pajamas or some other sort of nightwear. Residence halls are communal environments and you will need something appropriate to wear when you head to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or when you have to go outside for a fire drill at 4:00 A.M. You may choose to use T-shirts and sweatpants for sleeping, but make sure you plan for this when you pack. A bathrobe is a good idea too, particularly if it has pockets where you can keep your room key while you are in the shower.

    Clothing Choices

    Clothing is a personal statement about who you are and what you're comfortable with. On large campuses you may find a wide range of clothing types among the students. On smaller campuses, where almost everyone might come from similar economic backgrounds, there may seem to be an unofficial uniform. When you visit campus, take note of what students are wearing; this may clue you in to the climate there, and give you an idea of just how “dressed up” people get for class. However, your clothing should express your personality and make you comfortable. Don't spend excess energy trying to dress like everyone else. Fashion is fleeting, and regardless of your wardrobe, you'll become friends with the right people.

    Also keep in mind that you will accumulate clothing while at college. You will likely purchase a sweatshirt with your college's name or logo on it. You will have dozens of opportunities to purchase or win T-shirts. Some groups, such as athletic teams and Greek organizations, have their own casual wear, such as shorts, hats, and shirts. And there will likely be a mall nearby with all your favorite stores — shopping is a favorite pastime among college students.

    A final note on clothing concerns is the care you will give your clothes while at college. Even the most fastidious students find they do not have the time, energy, or desire to iron clothes on a regular basis. The same is true for dry cleaning. Even if you find a cheap dry cleaner adjacent to campus, you must choose between spending your money there or on social activities, such as a late-night pizza delivery. As you choose the clothes you will take to college, favor those that are wrinkle free or otherwise require little extra attention. Exclude items that cannot be thrown in the washer and dryer or hand-washed and hung up to dry in your room.

    Very few colleges have an official dress code for students. This being the case, many students feel comfortable wearing sweatpants, shorts, and even pajamas around campus and to class. Dining hall etiquette is similarly relaxed and many students wear baseball caps during meals. The rule of thumb for students on campus is comfort.

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