What Shoes Should You Bring To College? The 9 Essential Pairs That Need To Make It From Your Bedroom To The Dorm Room

The idea of moving away to college or university can be pretty terrifying and intimidating, considering for so many students it also means a move across the state or the country. Figuring out what shoes to pack for college doesn't have to be one of the nerve wracking parts, though. Sure, the prospect of the next four years of your life costing you thousands of dollars and setting the stage for what may become your career forever is totally stressful, but at least you can be sporting some killer kicks along the way.

Packing clothes is more of a straightforward pursuit, of course. You can layer, add a few new pieces here and there, and create totally new looks. With shoes, however, it can be a bit trickier. After all, a good shoe can mean the difference between acquiring foot fungus in the communal showers versus keeping those pretty toes in check, or physically hydroplaning on a wet sidewalk on the way to class as opposed to making it there in a timely and chic manner. 

As you box up your whole life, your initial instinct may be to throw all the shoes you own into a giant suitcase and call it a day. I hear you. However, packing smart and thinking ahead are two ways to prevent literal pain and save you time and money down the road.

Here are the nine shoes you absolutely need to pack for your first year of college.

1. Rubber Flip Flops

Women's Leonie Flip Flops, $4, target.com

Dorm showers are gross. Hallways are gross. Everywhere is pretty gross. If you're stepping out of your dorm for a quick second, you're going to want something between you and the ground. When they slip on and off quick? Even better. 

2. Slippers

Dearform Ballerina Slipper, $17, amazon.com

Floors are cold and dirty, even in your own dorm room. Despite the fact that you're probably moving in when it's still hot outside now, don't forget that you have no idea how drafty your room will be come winter. Bring slippers.

3. Plain Flats 

Chaella Flat, $35, callitspring.com

If you're leaving some of your beloved shoes back at home, the plain ballet flat is going to be your saving grace as it can fill in a lot of those gaps while you rebuild a shoe collection. A neutral, unnoticeable shoe is also going to save your life for theme parties, costume parties, and every other random event where you have no idea what to put on your feet. They also slip into your backpack easily for when you're heading from building to building or campus to campus.

4. Winter Boots

Jimmy Unisex Winter Boot, $100, nativeshoes.com

If you're going to school in a freezing cold climate, you're gonna want some heavy duty Sorels that are waterproof and warm. I generally believe in cuteness above everything else, but this ethos vanishes in -20 degree weather. Your campus might mean a bit of a hike from one building to the next, and it's going to be hard to concentrate on class when you have frostbite. If you live somewhere a bit warmer, however, you'll still probably want something a bit more substantial and close-toed for the cooler months.

5. Running Shoes

Nike Air Zoom, $110, nike.com

Whether you're a gym-goer or not (and whether you're into the athleisure look or not), running shoes are almost certainly going to save your life at some point. Key examples: Literally running late for class after sleeping in, deciding to join a fun intramural league, activity days, exploring the area/hiking, and pretty much any outdoor activity that doesn't take place at the beach. You might not think you need them, but you do.

6. Sandals

Shore Thing Cutout Sandals, $18, lulus.com

I know that you're being practical and wanting to only bring what you really need right now, but pack those sandals. There are definitely going to be days warm enough to still wear them in fall, and spring is gonna come way faster than you think. By the time it rolls around, you'll be caught up in finals, your student loans budget for the year will be running low, and you won't be starting a summer job for a bit. Take sandals now, and wear them later.

7. Rainboots

Kamik Olivia Rain Boots, $45, zappos.com

Unless you are going to school in Arizona, Nevada, California, or New Mexico, you need these. OK, you probably need them in all those places, too. A $10 pair from the hardware store will do, but just make sure you have one. Sitting through a class with soggy feet will be the end of you.

8. Formal Shoes

Snappy And Strappy Shoe In Ink, $40, modcloth.com

Whether you're into heels or flats, bring something that you can wear to a formal occasion. If you nab an interview for your dream internship, end up at a gala dinner, are invited to a formal, or find yourself on the list for an important school function, you're not going to want to be worrying about your footwear choices. 

9. Your Favorite Pair Of Kicks

Right About Now Boot, $69, asos.com

Your beloveds, your tried-and-trues, your staples, your signatures. Obviously, you are bringing these. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, grab a similar pair. These are your go-to shoes that make getting dressed easy, saving you plenty of valuable time. For me, my fave is the heeled Chelsea boot, but yours could be Nikes, flats, wedges, slip-on sneakers, or whatever hits that sweet spot of comfort and personal style.

No matter what you pack, though, just remember: Comfort is key here. Nothing sucks quite as hard as trying to walk from campus to campus in your old prom stilettos. 

Images: tschundler/Flickr; Courtesy Brands

Must Reads