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Being a college student living in one of the most expensive cities in the country is not a walk in the park, especially when you are paying an absurd amount of money for a four-year education (sorry NYU). If you’re like me, encountering people on the way to your morning class dressed up-to-the-nines in what looks like haute couture is not the greatest confidence booster. How do people even find the time for this? Or the money? 

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it’s all about the basics. I want to be clear that I am no professional stylist, nor do I wear anything other than leggings and a sweatshirt to every single class I attend. However, I like to switch it up sometimes, and adding these pieces to my wardrobe has completely changed the way I view fashion. 

Wardrobe staples are versatile, timeless and make you feel confident, according to the blog My Fashion Life. Not to mention, purchasing timeless items helps our environment with sustainability since it is proven that the fashion industry is the third highest-polluting industry in the world. 

So, to all the students in need of some new additions to your holiday wishlist, or just in need of a little retail therapy, this article’s for you. 

Here are my top four wardrobe items that make picking out an outfit and supporting our environment a million times easier: 

The white button-down 

A plain, white button-down long-sleeve shirt can go a long way in building an outfit for colder weather. It’s extremely versatile and can be dressed either up or down, depending on the look you’re going for. Finding a shirt like this is not a hard task — the local thrift store definitely has them on sale for cheap, so get digging! 

For a dressier look, keep the shirt buttoned-up and tuck in one of the sides in the front into a pair of straight jeans or dressy pants. Add a little gold jewelry, a pair of chunky black boots, and a blazer (if you’re feeling fancy), and you’re good to go. There’s also the option of throwing a sweater over and pulling the collar out over the sweater. Perfect for dressing up on chilly days.

For a more casual look, switch out the pants for some leggings, regular or flared, and try on a solid colored tank top while leaving the shirt unbuttoned. You could also keep the shirt buttoned up and add a puffer coat on top — pair it with some cute mini UGG boots, or look-a-like’s you can find on amazon for around $30 dollars. 

A pair of straight, not ripped blue jeans 

If you’re going to spend your money on anything, have it be a pair of high-quality jeans. Pretty basic, but I promise, you will wear these all the time. They go with absolutely everything and can be worn in various temperatures. If you’re willing to spend your money on one item, it should be this. In my opinion, buying a pair of expensive but quality jeans is much more of a bargain than spending ten dollars on five shirts off a fast-fashion website. 

I recommend the Levi’s Low Pro Jeans — and you can get them off Amazon for cheaper than the original price. 


A blazer, preferably black, goes a long way in making an outfit appear ten times more put together. Just throwing on a blazer over a mismatched sweat set can elevate your look and create the illusion that you actually tried to look presentable that day. 

Oversized zip-up sweatshirt 

I can’t even count how many times I have worn this to class since I’ve started at NYU. Sometimes I think that people are starting to catch on … as if anyone actually cares or takes the time to notice. Regardless, they are comfy and relatively cheap to get off of Amazon: our holy grail. I specifically recommend the Hanes Men’s Hoodie. The full-zip features an unbelievably soft, yet breathable interior that keeps you warm, but doesn’t force you to sweat uncontrollably. Furthermore, if this doesn’t sway you to make a purchase, hopefully this will: the total for one sweatshirt is just under $15. I don’t know how much better it can get. 

Not to be cringy, but the saying “balling on a budget” is as important as ever, especially being a college student inevitably buried in student debt. I hope these items help you to not only save money and protect our environment, but also provide you with more confidence in how you choose to express yourself. However, I want to reiterate that regardless of the way you dress, you are incredible and you can your mind to any challenges NYU and the city throws at you. A blazer just might make for a cute picture in the midst of you taking on the world.

Eliana Wood Gerndt is a first-year student at NYU studying Media, Culture, and Communication at Steinhardt. She is a staff writer for Her Campus NYU and has a passion for all things fashion and social media. In her free time, you can find Eliana studying at the local Starbucks, editing news articles, attending fashion shows, or petting every dog she encounters off the street. Her dream career would be to work for the fashion industry as an editor and contributing journalist.