College is the time and place to learn how to express your identity through your clothes. But what if you don’t know what that identity is? How do you know you’re wearing the right thing to class, parties, formal events? What do you do if you stain your best items with ink? What if you hate shopping? Don’t panic. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
Start with the basics
College is a great time to experiment with new looks and to try more mature cuts and styles. Invest in a pair of high quality denim jeans, and replace your old torn band or slogan t-shirts with some Oxford button down shirts, polo shirts, and the odd plain white tee. These tops are easy to dress up and down – just add jeans, chinos or a formal jacket to transform your style.
A few flexible basics will help you dress appropriately for most occasions. For black tie events, rent a suit: it’s less expensive than buying one, and means you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money on something you’ll rarely wear.
Get some smart shoes
If you want to look smart and professional, invest in a classic pair of leather brogues or loafers. Make sure you don’t run or cycle in them, as that will wear them down, and buff them regularly with polish to keep the leather shiny and supple. You’ll also want a cool, comfy pair of sneakers for going out in the evening with friends.
Be cautious with bright colours and patterns
Unless you’re very confident in your ability to mix and match patterns, it’s better to opt for solid-coloured shirts and t-shirts, at least until you get the hang of things. If you really like patterned items, chequered shirts are great subtle way to add texture without any real risk.
This doesn’t mean you can’t wear bright colours. If there is a particular shade of red or green that compliments your skin tone or eyes, wear it. But don’t wear all your favourite bright colours at once!
Know how to remove ink stains from clothes, and deal with other important mishaps
Keeping your clothes in good condition is essential. It doesn’t matter how smart a shirt looked when it was new. If it’s crumpled, faded and stained now, it won’t make a good impression.
That’s why you’ll need to learn basic laundry skills, like how to remove ink stains from clothes, how to iron shirts and how to sew on buttons. It’s important that you follow laundry labels and store clothing properly – either hung up, or folded. Avoid using tumble dryers, as they are the fastest way to wear out fabric.
Groom your facial hair
Looking impressive isn’t all about what you wear. Facial hair says a lot about your personality and what you do. You can go for the full-on hipster beard, rugged stubble, a 90s goatee – there are many possibilities. Flick through magazines for inspiration, and experiment a bit to find something that suits you.
Whatever you do, make sure you know how to maintain and groom it. Just as you need to know how to remove ink stains from clothes, you need to know how to trim your beard when it gets a little wild. Facial hair is not an easy option! If trimming and sculpting your beard or moustache turns out to be too much trouble, you can’t go wrong with the classic clean-shaven look.
You don’t need to have a lot of money or a boat load of fashion know-how to dress well at college. Buy a few basics, know how to maintain them, and dress them up or down according to the occasion. It’s that easy.