When you're heading off to the higher education institution of your dreams, packing a flawless wardrobe for your adventures may be the last thing on your mind. Picking out the perfect first-semester Freshman schedule with absolutely no 8:30 am courses, finding that roommate who will become your BFF (or in all likelihood, a bitter enemy who you rarely if ever see) — these things seem to take precedence over how to dress. When I entered the hallowed halls of my alma mater oh so many years ago, I was outfitted with a curious combination of ensembles so buttoned-up that I actually was mistaken for the professor on my first day, and ensembles I set aside for "going out", which consisted of precious, spaghetti-strap minidresses, cutoff shorts, and layered tanks that had been oh-so-chic back in California. As it happens, North Carolina was not of the same opinion.
And thus began my understanding of the clothing you actually need in college. Sadly, the oh-so-ladylike dress my mother gave me for sorority rush was only used a handful of times, while a pair of pirate-themed pajamas which a friend and I purchases as a joke became a humorous wardrobe staple for fraternity parties where neither of us cared for the crowd. Future freshman class of 2018, maybe you can learn a little something. And for those who have already graduated, read on to reminisce about your wild, boisterous youth.
1. A PLAIN WHITE TEE SHIRT FOR HIGHLIGHTER PARTIES
Nothing screams "college" quite like waking up and seeing your formerly white tee-shirt covered in lewd comments and phone numbers. My current roommate still has his post-highlighter party tee as a wistful souvenir.
2. PAJAMAS That Consist Of More Than Just An Oversized Tee
I found mine to be quite useful, especially when my then-roommate entertained a constantly rotating parade of male friends in our room without having the decency to give me advanced notice. The nighties and oversized tees I wore at home were simply not up to the task, so I combatted the awkward situation by being the only fully clothed person in the room.
3. A CHEAP WHITE SHEET That Never Goes On Your Bed
It's a toga! It's a wrap dress! It's a maxi skirt! When at a loss for what to wear to a costume party, a white sheet is remarkably versatile in function. Just belt it, pin it, or otherwise safely secure it, because in the midst of a raucous toga party, it is essential to remember that the sheet isn't an actual item of clothing, and therefore won't just stay put if you haphazardly drape it.
4. AN LBPD
A Little Black Party Dress differs from your average LBD in that it functions solely as a dress for clubbing, bar hopping, and other activities. The LBPD, unlike its predecessor, isn't a particularly elegant item, rather acting as a somewhat slinky accent to a night of debauchery.
5. AN UMBRELLA
Though an umbrella is technically an accessory, it is as essential in a college wardrobe as any other item of clothing. Not only will it protect a perfect ensemble from a rainstorm, it will also act as a shield against airborne beer cans, showers of liquor, and drunken frat boys in a pinch.
6. FLIP FLOPS OR BOAT SHOES
The former is essential for questionable showers, and the latter is ideal for blending in with preppy coeds or wading through puddles of spilled Natty Light.
7. ONE PAIR OF OVERSIZED BLACK SHADES
This particular college style fixture is as essential for concealing post-all-nighter dark circles or Saturday's hangover as it is for appearing aloof and put-together, even if you're anything but.
8. CHECKERED SHIRTS AND BRIGHT SHORTS...
If you attend school in the northeast or south, that is. Vineyard Vines is de rigueur for the Panhellenic college set.
9. YOUR VERY BEST BLUE JEANS
After all, college is the ideal time to find your perfect denim identity.
Images: LNA Rinaldi Tee, $72, revolveclothing.com; A by Alfani Notch Collar Top and Pajama Pants, $59.50, macys.com; Palais Royale 630 Thread Count Sheet Set, $69.99, bedbathandbeyond.com; Nasty Gal Yours Truly Dress, $68, nastygal.com; Totes Mini Automatic Umbrella in Rainbow Dot, walmart.com; Angelfish Engineer Stripe Slip-On Boat Shoe, $85, sperrytopsider.com; Prada 54mm Cat Eye Sunglasses, $245, shop.nordstrom.com; J. Crew Gingham Utility Shirt, $88, jcrew.com; J. Brand 9044 Jake Jeans, $218, jbrandjeans.com