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Closet Must-Haves for Your First Year of College

Though moving out might be a daunting enough concept on its own, the idea of moving your closet can be even scarier. Moving an entire wardrobe into a tiny dorm or apartment closet is no easy feat. And with a limited budget, it can be tricky to determine which pieces are really worth investing in for your freshman year of college. Luckily, the below guide can help you figure out which pieces are worth the sprbefore your first year of college begins.

  1. Rainboots

Madewell Chelsea Rainboots, $68

Maybe you never needed rainboots in high school, but the days of dashing a mere thirty feet from your car to your homeroom in Keds that only ever got kinda wet are looong gone. Plus, if you get chic black ankle-length rain boots, you can pair them with your sweaters on sunny winter days without having to be That Girl in Wellies when it’s not even rainy.


2. A Little Black Dress

Lulu’s Hello World Black Midi Dress, $59

I bought a black lace bodycon midi-dress my senior year of high school, brought it to college, and have worn it for like 5 or 6 different occasions. The black dress shown above can be worn to anything from internship events to holiday parties. This a similar pick available in sizes XS-4X, while this dress is a slightly more affordable option at $34.99.


3. A Chambray Top

J. Crew Everyday Chambray Top, $78

I know, I know – chambray shirts were basic AF back in like 2012, and now they feel a little dated. But hear me out. Chambray shirts can be worn with business-casual attire at your internship or with a denim mini and slip-on sneaks on the weekend. You can pair them with dark wash jeans for a meeting with a professor or toss one in your backpack to pair with a tank and leggings if you get chilly studying at the library. The J. Crew shirt linked above is a little pricey, but it is available in a myriad of sizes, including Petite and Tall, and can be worn almost every week out of the year.


4. A One Piece Something

American Eagle Romper, $24.97

The secret to looking like you have a bigger wardrobe than only what you crammed into your dorm closet? Variety. A casual dress, romper, or jumpsuit can be casual enough for class and break up the monotony when you’ve spent the last seven days in your trusty jeans-and-tee combo.


5. Shoes Actually Made for Walking

New Balance 574 Backpack, $79.99

Big school attendees beware: Your favorite Converse just aren’t going to cut it on a college campus, especially when you may have to make 15-20 minute on-foot commutes to get to your generals. Get a pair of cute athletic sneakers to make your trek to class 100% easier. Plus, these practical pairs can double as your gym shoes!


6. A Jacket You Can Take on the Go

The Northface Thermoball Insulated Jacket, $129.32

There will be a day (or forty) during spring semester where it’s no longer cold enough for your big coat but it’s not light enough for your favorite fleece. Enter the packable down. Not only can you pair this versatile jacket with outer layers for added warmth — you can stash it in your backpack if you get too hot during your trek up campus.


7. A Classic Watch


Fossil Scarlette Multi-function Rose-Gold Tone Stainless Steel Watch, $75

I rarely wear jewelry, save for a watch I got as a Christmas gift from my parents three years ago. Buy a quality watch freshman year, and you should have it well past graduation. The above pick from Fossil comes in a versatile rose gold – plus it’s on sale!


8. Leggings That Will Take You From Class to the Gym

Girlfriend Collective Black Compressive High Rise Legging, $68

My sophomore year, I used to bike up to campus some days (I’m still asking myself why), so I wore Zella leggings to class every single warm day of fall semester. When my Zella’s wear out, I have my eye on a new pair from Girlfriend Collective – each pair of their leggings is made from 25 recycled water bottles, plus all of their leggings are available in sizes XXS-XXXL.

9. The Perfect Jean

Madewell 10” High-Rise Skinny Jeans in Lucille Wash, $128

When I’m not wearing leggings to class, I’m almost always wearing jeans. Madewell honestly makes great jeans – I’ve had the Perfect Summer Jean since freshman year, and I’ve been loving their skinny jeans. Many Madewell styles are available in curvy fits, plus Petite, Tall, and Taller lengths. Plus, if you bring in an old pair of jeans (any brand!) to recycle, Madewell will give you $20 off a new pair.

10. An Outfit You Can Interview In

Banana Republic Factory Machine Washable Black Pencil Skirt, $29.99, and J. Crew Slim Perfect Shirt in Stretch Cotton, $49.99

At some point in your first year of college, you will have to interview for something – whether it be an on-campus leadership position or your first internship. Make sure you have your interview outfit ahead of time – a pencil skirt and blouse combo is versatile enough to go with whatever dress shoes you own, and can work with many business pieces after you land the job.






11. A Raincoat to Chase the Clouds Away

Joules Coast Waterproof Hooded Jacket, $77.76

I have this sort-of ugly rain jacket I got freshman year that I wear every time it rains, but as soon as that wears out, or a get a higher-paying job (whichever comes first), I am going to buy the above rain jacket from Joules. My roommate has recommended this brand, and I’m a little bit of a sucker for the classic-preppy cut.


12. A Dress For Every Occasion

Modcloth Easily Gleeful Knit Dress, $59

And lastly, a secret I learned from a girl I interned with this past summer. If you can find a business casual dress that’s dressy enough for a corporate office or a dressy internship but casual enough for class, you don’t have to change anything but maybe your shoes.


With these closet essentials, you’ll start your college career off at your best dressed. Happy shopping, collegiettes!


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10a, 10b11, 12   

With a double major in Political Science and Economics, Allyson hopes to become either a lawyer or a professor of political science after she finishes her degree at the U. Her hobbies include shopping for clothing she cannot afford and working out without breaking a sweat. She is an avid lover of podcasts, and always appreciates recommendations. 
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