Which Clothes To Bring to College

African American mother helping daughter pack for college
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Figuring out what to bring to college is challenging enough before you even start thinking about clothes. (And, let's be honest, it's especially challenging if you're a girl.) How can you decide what clothes to bring to college and what to leave at home?

While your own fashion sense and clothing needs might differ a bit, there are some guidelines to consider when it comes to bringing clothes to college:

Ditch Your High School Garb

Don't bring anything that refers to high school or has a high school logo on it. You'll feel like a dork as soon as you realize no one wears anything that has to do with high school once they hit college.

Bring All the Basics

Definitely bring the basics to cover the following:

  • class (jeans, t-shirts, etc.)
  • date/dinner out with friends (guys: nice top/pants, girls: dresses/cute skirts/etc.)
  • something nice
    • guys: not necessarily a suit but a button-down, tie, and nice pants
    • girls: little black dress for sure, but leave the prom dress at home

You'll need other basics like jackets, sweaters, gym clothes, pajamas, robe (not everyone likes to walk from the bathroom to their room in a little towel), and a swimsuit.

Stock Up on Underwear

Bring a lot of underwear. This may sound strange, but many students only do laundry when their underwear runs out. Do you want to be doing it every week or every 2 to 3 weeks?

Think Seasonally, Not Annually

Think about the weather and when you'll be seeing your family next. You can always bring summer/fall stuff and then do a clothes swap for winter when you come home a few weeks after classes start, over Thanksgiving or for the holidays. If you really want to bring everything you wear but don't want to worry about bringing everything you own, focus on what you'll wear over the next 6-8 weeks. At that point, you will be better able to gauge what you'll want/need/have space for and possibly do a swap as the weather cools down.

Pack a "Just in Case" Box

You can always bring what you'll need for the next 6 to 8 weeks but leave a "just in case" box back home, i.e., a box of stuff you may want but aren't sure until you know how much space you'll have. Then, if you end up wanting it, you can just ask your folks to ship it. You can also use that box for warmer-weather stuff that you can ship as the weather cools down.

Pack Light and Save Room for New Stuff

Keep in mind, too, that you should err on the side of not bringing too much instead of overdoing it. Once you get to campus, chances are you'll sport for a new sweatshirt when they're on sale in the bookstore, go shopping around town with some friends one weekend, end up with tons of t-shirts from events or clubs on campus, and even swap clothes with other people in your residence hall.

Clothes have a tendency of multiplying suddenly on college campuses, so as long as you have some basics with you when you arrive you should be set.

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Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "Which Clothes To Bring to College." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/which-clothes-to-bring-to-college-793349. Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2021, February 16). Which Clothes To Bring to College. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/which-clothes-to-bring-to-college-793349 Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "Which Clothes To Bring to College." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/which-clothes-to-bring-to-college-793349 (accessed May 31, 2023).