10 Outfits You Need to Survive College

outfits to survive college

College is a time of learning, exploring, and finding yourself (oh, and hopefully deciding what you want to do along the way). Just like there are certain classes you have to take, there are specific outfits that you’ll have to wear, buy, or bring with you to college. Each person is different so each outfit and style will vary as well, but these essential outfits are pretty much universal.

1. Party Outfit

It’s no mystery that you’ll be attending some killer parties in college—and being an incoming freshman this is something I’m most looking forward to (besides studying, of course). This is an outfit that should be cute, comfortable, and a little flashier than what you’re used to wearing. Wearing something that’s comfortable is essential because you want to be able to dance, run around, and move all night without having to worry about side boob or pulling your pants up every five seconds.


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But, there isn’t just one kind of party. Especially if you’re in a sorority, themed and dressy parties are in abundance. But it’s always good to keep the cute and comfortable idea in mind.

Themed Party Outfit

Themed parties are probably my favorite, just because they let you be crazy and creative. There are throwback, pajama, old South, ski lodge, Hawaiian, and Wild West themed parties (just to name a few). Now, I’m not saying that you should go out and buy cowgirl boots and ski goggles, but I am saying you should be prepared for when these events happen—whether that means searching through Amazon for a neon retro workout jacket or borrowing clothes from friends.


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Remember, these parties are supposed to be fun and funky, not stressful. Also, for the love of god, please don’t be that person who doesn’t participate because you thinking dressing up is silly (because no one likes that person).

Big Party Outfit

In a bigger social setting like a frat party or mixer, you should dress nicer than usual. This is because one, you’re going to be meeting new people so you want to look put together, and two, your prince (or princess) charming might be in the sea of people—so looking fabulous is a must.


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Get Together Outfit

These are more along the lines of house parties or get togethers with a small group of friends. In these situations, it’s not necessary to wear your hottest dress with stilettos (obviously). My go-to for these parties is a nice graphic tee or tank top and jeans or shorts with sandals. Nothing fancy. And keep it extremely comfortable because these are your friends—so you shouldn’t have to impress anyone. Now, if you like getting dolled up to go to a friend’s house, there’s nothing wrong with that, more power to you actually—I’m just super lazy and don’t want to take the time.

2. Hangover Outfit

There will be those days when you wake up with a raging headache and makeup from last night all over your face. You’ll want to just lay in bed with the blinds closed and lights off, but most of the time you won’t have that luxury. So, you’ll throw on a big t-shirt (that may or may not be dirty), a baseball hat to block your eyes from the sun, sunglasses because the hat didn’t help enough, and the first pair of shorts you find in your drawer. These won’t be your best and surely not your most fabulous days, but they’re necessary — and with a lot of water, sleep, and a little Advil you’ll get through them.


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3. Job Fair Outfit

College isn’t always fun and games, and sometimes you actually have to be (or at least look) professional. Job fairs are great ways to meet businesses, show off your resume, and get some experience under your belt. You want to look put together because someday you might be working for one of the people that you meet there — and you never know when a big opportunity is going to come your way. So, ditch the t-shirt and leggings and wear a nice dress (and no, I don’t mean a party dress) or a conservative shirt with a blazer. If you don’t have either of those things you should stop reading this article right now and go buy them — everyone should have at least ONE nice dress and/or blazer in their closet.


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Wearing something a little nicer than usual may be the difference between getting a job offer and not. You can still dress a little more casual than if you were going in for an interview, though — you don’t want to come off as trying too hard, so you’ll have to find your perfect balance.

4. Begging Your Teacher for Help Outfit

There will come a day when you’ll have to beg at your teacher’s feet for either an extension, test retake, or help understanding material. Now, I’m not saying that you’ll get any of these things just because of the way you dress but I am saying you’ll have a better chance if you don’t look like a homeless college student who gives zero f*cks.


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When you have a meeting with your professor you should make sure your shirt doesn’t have any stains, holes, or rips and that your shorts (if that’s your choice) aren’t too short. You don’t have to wear a pantsuit or anything; just put on a nice shirt—and no, not a t-shirt—and show them that you’re not a lazy slob or un-dedicated student.

5. LBD

The Little Black Dress is a must-have in any woman’s clothing arsenal. It’s a staple of elegance and sexiness—and let’s be honest, we always feel fierce when we wear one out. The LBD can be used for a formal setting or a night out at the club; my favorite part about them is that you can easily dress them up or down. Make sure that your LBD is tight (but doesn’t suffocate you) and compliments you in all the right places. This is a great weapon to use when you want to have all eyes on you—especially when it’s paired with some colorful pumps.


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6. Date Night Outfit

You’ll probably (well, hopefully) go on your fair share of dates in college. Whether it’s with a different person every night or the same one for years, you still might want to dress up a little for each occasion. For date night I usually go with a cute sundress and sandals (in the summer), or jeans and a cute shirt.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be over-the-top. It’s college, so most of the time dating is casual — so going all out might freak some people out. Also, keep in mind that each individual date requires a different type of outfit. If you’re going to go hike a mountain I wouldn’t wear jeans and if you’re going to a nice dinner I wouldn’t just throw on a t-shirt.


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7. Interview Outfit

It’s crucial to both sound and look professional in an interview, especially when you’re a broke college kid in desperate need of a job. While each company is different (some are more casual than others) there are some well-known dos and don’ts of interview outfits. For example, don’t show up in a “professional” pencil skirt that barely covers your butt or wear heels that you can’t walk in. Interview attire should match the job that you’re applying for—you shouldn’t wear jeans to a corporate interview or a pantsuit to apply for a waitress position.


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As a college student, it’s absolutely necessary to have at least one interview outfit, just in case something comes your way. Even if you don’t get a job until after you graduate, summer internships and other opportunities will come up that require you to wear something nice.

8. Game Day Outfit

Football games, especially at larger schools, are a HUGE deal. Die-hard fans and college students tailgate all day, which basically consists of eating tons of food and drinking tons of beer. At some schools like Ole Miss, football games double as fashion shows—with high-end dresses and fur coats at every turn. But, no matter which school you attend, you should have a fierce game day outfit.


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Get pieces of clothing that are your school’s colors—so if your school is red, white, and black then you could do a black shirt with white pants and red lipstick. Jerseys are always a safe bet as well, and there will be no shortage of them at your school’s bookstore. If all else fails you can do a t-shirt with jeans and flats—the options are nearly endless!

9. Workout Outfit

To fight the freshman 15 or weight gain at any grade, you’ll need to pump some iron—eating healthy is also an option but, honestly, what’s the fun in that? Nothing helps you get more in the workout mode than buying some cute workout attire. You can always use a t-shirt and shorts from your closet but I’ve found that I’m much more motivated in something a little more workout specific (not to mention you’ll sweat to death in an oversized t-shirt). You can also go the athleisure route and wear your yoga pants and tennis shoes to class, dinner with friend, and practically anywhere else besides a dressy situation. You’ll also look super fit walking around campus, which is always a plus.


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10. Finals Week Outfit

Your finals week outfit will probably look a lot like your hangover outfit (and maybe even a little worse). Leggings or shorts and a mangy t-shirt are probably going to be your go-to, and I highly recommend doing laundry the week before because if you think you’re going to do it during finals, you’re wrong. Your hair will probably resemble a rat’s nest due to a combo of not showering and having it up in a ponytail or messy bun for a week straight, so you’ll most definitely need a hat.


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Follow Anna on Instagram: @annamariedepoyster

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