It's kind of wild for me to think that this time ten years ago, I was getting ready to go to college—on the one hand, it feels like barely any time has passed, but on the other, so much has happened in the interim that a decade seems about right. One thing I do remember well, however, is stressing out about what clothes to bring to freshman year.
Do I need to pack every single pair of shoes that I own? (Nope.) Am I going to have enough closet space for a second winter coat? (Definitely not.) Am I really going to start wearing sweatpants to class? (Not at NYU, you're not.)
Of course, different colleges require different wardrobes. If you're going to a school where Greek life is a big part of the culture, theme parties are going to be a given, so maybe think ahead and pack some costumey accessories that don't take up a ton of space. If football games are the main social event of the year, bring plenty of options in your school's colors so you don't blow everything you earned at your summer job in the gift shop come September.
For those of you changing climates from, say, Miami to the Midwest, pack plenty of warm winter clothing now because it's going to get cold sooner than you think. You may be able to get away with waiting until Thanksgiving to buy a proper parka—at which time The North Face, L.L. Bean, and Aritzia will become your best friends (trust me on that last one; I'm Canadian)—but don't get stuck wearing a hoodie and a denim jacket in November in Illinois.
Below, we've put together a cheat sheet of 10 items you should pack for college. Happy dorming!
#1: A Professional Outfit
It's so easy to forget when you're caught up in the excitement of meeting new friends and registering for classes, but come career-fair season, a simple shift dress will serve you well.
Another internship essential, especially if you're looking at a more corporate field.
Wear these to interviews and with vintage Levi's for a night out.
#2: Warm Layers
Keep this cozy fleece handy for chillier days, and (if you're going to school on the East Coast at least) layer it under your winter coat when temperatures really start to drop.
Sure, you'll probably get a college hoodie or two during orientation, but a classic zip-up will never go out of style.
#3: Rain Gear
Trust us: You don't want to have to buy a rain poncho from your local CVS the first time it pours.
Pick a pair of rain boots that you'll actually want to wear in public—like these ones, which can almost pass for patent leather.
#4: A Versatile Going-Out Bag
This crossbody bag will be your go-to for Friday nights.
#5: Plenty of Bras and Underwear
You honestly can never pack too many pairs of underwear—especially if the washing machines in your dorm always seem to be full of other people's stuff (which they will).
Also pack a few mesh laundry bags so you can wash your bras in the machine.
#6: A Warm Winter Coat
This packs up teeny-tiny, so you have no excuse not to stuff it in your duffel bag. If you're going somewhere really cold—lookin' at you, Minnesota—you'll still need a full-length parka for the winter, but this should do the trick for most cities at least through Thanksgiving.
Dorm floors can be freezing, and you need something to put on your feet to go visit friends down the hall.
#8: A Nice Tote Bag
Invest in a tote bag you can carry for days with lighter textbook loads that'll also look put-together enough to bring to an interview.
#9: Cute Boxers
Because you won't want to lounge around your dorm in anything else while it's warm outside.
#10: Workout Gear
You probably live in leggings already, so those are surely already packed, but don't forget the rest of your gym clothes, unless you want to be stuck washing the same sports bra every time you work out.