Dorm Room Survival Ideas: How To Pack the Clothes You'll Actually Wear at College (and Leave the Rest at Home)

Dorm Room Survival Ideas: How To Pack the Clothes You'll Actually Wear at College (and Leave the Rest at Home)

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Alison Gerber
Aug 18, 2015

That time is upon us! Back-to-school, off-to-college time. Which means that all across the country, a whole bunch of soon-to-be-freshman are staring at their wardrobe and wondering what on earth should I pack? Here are a few helpful tips for navigating the college closet quandary!

Make a list of what you'll need. Make a list of the clothes you'll need for going to class, going out, lounging around, sleeping, and going to the gym. Going to class clothes should be easily put together mix-and-match outfits with easy-to-walk-in shoes (you'll be walking a lot). Think: versatile skirt/pants plus a bunch of tops you love, plus a decent-sized bag you can carry books in. Lounging around clothes should be comfy but not old and gross. Going out clothes can be whatever you like!

Enlist the help of a trustworthy friend. Sometimes decisions about clothes are a whole lot easier when you have a second opinion. Call over your most stylish friend whom you can trust to be completely honest.

Go through every item in your wardrobe, assessing them carefully. Marie Kondo thinks the best question to ask is "does this bring me joy?" and I'm inclined to agree. Try each piece of clothing on if you can't decide. Do you feel happy, comfortable, gorgeous wearing this? Are you excited to wear this? Don't pack anything that is ill-fitting, drab, worn, or too old. Especially don't pack clothes you "hope" will fit. Do pack pieces that look great on you but that you were too shy to wear before. This is college- your chance to reinvent yourself if you want!

Expect to go on a shopping trip when you arrive in your new town. The biggest mistake I made in packing to go to school in New England was buying a "winter" coat in... Australia. The coat was nowhere near warm enough. Stores in warm climates don't stock the kinds of clothes needed for cool climates, and the same is true the other way. If you need seasonal clothes, plan to go shopping when you arrive in your collage town. There you'll pick up gloves that are thick enough, tights that are warm enough, or tank tops and skirts that are cool enough.

Remember, it's okay to not bring everything. This is your moment to cut your closet free of all the junk you've been storing for the last 3 years and pare it down to its stylish, fab core. Just because Mom or Grandma bought it for you, don't feel pressured to bring it. Just because they're the only pair of jeans you have, don't feel pressured to pack them. Don't pack tops just so you'll have enough. Keep your selection pared down to what you absolutely love. This way you'll carry into college your most fashionable you.

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