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Creating a Capsule Wardrobe: Essentials for First Year

Picture this: it’s your first day of class, freshman year, you go to pick out the perfect outfit from your closet and low and behold, you have nothing to wear.

Of course this is something we all go through and with the current influx of micro-trend after micro-trend, it’s not easy to maintain a trendy wardrobe without breaking the bank. However, there is a solution…creating a capsule wardrobe.

Building a capsule wardrobe helps eliminate the endless supply of fast fashion clothing you’ll only wear a couple times before it gets lost in the back of your closet. The formula for this wardrobe is completely customizable for any personal style, and, with the size of dorm rooms, having a capsule wardrobe is a must. So here are a few easy and versatile staples you need to have in your wardrobe during your first year.

Tote bags

If you’ve walked around a university campus in the past year you’ll know that backpacks are a thing of the past (for a good reason). Investing in a decent tote bag can make you look as put together as possible while lugging a 400 page biology textbook to class everyday. Your tote bag can be versatile for class, the gym or even picking up groceries. And truly, what beats walking around campus with your tote bag and having people think you’re the main character? (Answer: literally nothing).

That one pair of jeans

If you’ve found your perfect pair of jeans, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, it’s time to start looking. Finding the perfect pair doesn’t have to be costly! Visit your favourite second hand store and search until you’ve found the one! Having 2-3 pairs of jeans with different cuts can change your look everyday without owning a million pairs of pants. Recently, the flare jean has been making a comeback, but there’s always room for a simple mom jean or straight leg.


Next, the item that will most likely be the one you’ll overuse… your signature pair of sneakers. While we all dream of having an endless supply of shoes, you’ll come to realize that your first-year shoe of choice will quickly become your best friend. The most important tip to remember when picking out your sneakers is to invest in a pair that you’re not afraid to damage.


Creating your personal style in college is critical. Even more important, however, is finding the cutest way to wear pyjamas to your 8am class. Without surprise, I’m here to tell you that sweatsuits are exactly what you need. While they might not be the most glamorous, you’ll find yourself throwing them on every chance you get. Your sweatsuit doesn’t have to be insanely expensive either. Head over to your local Walmart and pick up a matching Gildan top and bottom for around $35. And hey, if it’s good enough for Hailey Bieber, then it’s good enough for us. 

Everyday accessories

If you’re only going to invest in one item off this list, this is the one. Finding a simple signature piece can really personalize your wardrobe and the kind of thing to have on at all times. It’s really that simple, Emma Chamberlain did it and now she has boys writing songs about her earrings (and isn’t that what we all want?) 

White button down

The white button down will truly never go out of style and it’s something you can have in your closet for years. What started out as a business casual look has now become quite mainstream and can be paired with nearly anything. Wear it with jeans and a tank or throw it underneath a blazer for more of the “Girlboss” effect. 


If you’re lucky enough to live in a climate where this isn’t necessary then you can skip this step, but for those of us who struggle to find that perfect jacket each season, this is for you. When it comes to outerwear, it’s better to go simple. Having a denim jacket for fall and a puffer for winter is truly all you need. But, if you want to go even simpler, adding the perfect trench coat to your wardrobe will take away all your outerwear nightmares.

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Chaya Mohan

Dalhousie '24

My name is Chaya Mohan, I'm a second year kinesiology student and I'm so excited to be joining HerCampus at Dalhousie. In my spare time you can find me reading my daily horoscope, having fashion shows with my friends or trying out new restaurants here in Halifax. I'm so excited to be a part of the team this year for HerCampus!
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