11 Essential Clothes & Accessories You Need For College You’re Not Thinking Of

No matter how many Pinterest boards you peep for dorm room inspo, or how many times you go over that college checklist you copped from Bed Bath and Beyond, none of us are ever totally prepared for college. Worse, sometimes we try to overcompensate for this fear of a lack of preparedness by stuffing three suitcases with every single piece of clothing we own. Listen, girl: Being prepared for college isn’t about having all of the things, it’s about having what you actually need with a few goodies thrown in for good measure. What you need to start off with are essentials, and this is especially key when it comes to your wardrobe.

Here’s an example: After growing up in a virtually season-free bubble of Los Angeles for my entire life, I headed 3,000 miles away to Washington, D.C. for college. For the first time, I would experience weather that was more than just “warm during the day, chilly at night.” Unfortunately, I didn’t really think that far ahead when I was packing, which meant that the cold weather crept up on me and I had to buy a ton of warm clothes. Honestly… I don’t even think I packed an umbrella (and I obviously had to deal with that the hard way). In retrospect, I wish I focused on packing or buying basic items that I would need for my first semester at college, but my mistake is your little nugget of wisdom. Trust me, between your classes, roommate drama, and getting settled into your dorm, the last thing you’ll want to do is take time out of your messy schedule to buy a damn umbrella. So check out these 11 essential clothes and accessories you’ll need for college that you’re not thinking of, and prosper.


Leggings will be your savior in college. First of all, when you don't feel like getting all that dressed up for class, throw these on with a sweater and some boots and you're good to go. Plus, they can be dressed up or down, so with the right accessories you can make a pair of plain black leggings look killer. And another thing: Leggings are great loungewear to rock around your dorm, common area, etc.

Buy a pack of two at ASOS for $29.12

Bath Robe

If you never really had a need for a bath robe before, now might be the time, especially if your dorm has communal showers. You don't want to have to walk down the hall wrapped up in a towel, or fully dressed pre/post shower, right? Right.

Buy it at ASOS for $24.25

A Backpack

You might be more interested in hauling a tote bag around, but as someone who did that throughout college, I regret not just having a backpack. Trust me, your shoulders will thank you! You won't necessarily have as much stuff to lug in it than you did in high school, but get one that's big enough to hold your laptop, a couple of notebooks, and a water bottle.

Buy it at Urban Outfitters for $75

A Nice Top

You can't just have t-shirts in your wardrobe. Mix it up and have at last a couple of nice tops that can be dressed up or down. You never know what kind of event you'll end up at, on campus or off, so you don't want to have to stress over having something nice to wear. Rock a simple collared blouse for a professional look, a turtleneck for a sleek look, or a printed top in a silky texture like the top shown for a relaxed and fun look. Throw on a skirt, layer under a sleeveless dress, or rock with some nice pants.

Buy it at ASOS for $11.32

A Trusty Jacket

You don't have to get a winter coat just yet; see what you can get for a relatively good deal and find out what matches your lifestyle and college environment best, then cop one when it gets chilly. In the meantime, have a trusty jacket that you can wear with just about anything. A jacket, not a sweater! It's so essential because it's flexible and perfect for transitional weather. Consider a denim jacket, an army jacket, or a leather jacket.

Buy it at ASOS for $56

Bras That Fit

hrow out your high school bras, it’s a new era. You’re an adult now (technically), and it’s time to get a damn bra that fits, dude. Before you jet off to college, go to a boutique or a department store with a good lingerie department and get a proper fitting. Then, buy a few bras that will last you the semester, including one sports bra.

Buy it at Nordstrom for $50

Circle Scarf

Heads up for all of you who normally live in a warm environment but are going to college somewhere cold: A circle/infinity scarf will change your life. They can be worn loosely or snugly and they're great for throwing on when you're not quite cold enough for a coat, but need a lil' extra somethin' somethin'. Plus, they look killer.

Buy it at American Apparel for $28


If you're not used to wearing legit tennis shoes, start getting used to it! If you have to walk a lot around campus, a sturdy pair of sneakers will make your feet a lot happier than heels or those flats that you love but give you blisters. Plus, if you use your school's gym or have to take a P.E. credit, these are essential.

Buy it at Urban Outfitters for $70


This is especially important to remember if you're from a dry region and are moving somewhere that gets regular rainfall. Yeah, I know, you can just get it some other time. The weather might even be nice for the first couple of months. But trust me, you're going to want one chillin' in your dorm when you wake up and it's pouring out.

Buy it at Amazon.com for $20.95

Flip Flops

Flip flops are essential if you're going to be in a dorm with communal bathrooms. ESSENTIAL. You don't want to walk around with your bare feet, yuck! Plus, it doesn't hurt to have a pair just to wear around your dorm, common rooms, etc if you're not as into slippers.

Buy it at Nordstrom for $5.52


Maybe you remembered to bring an umbrella, but not a solid pair of rain boots. Welp, it doesn't hurt to have a pair if you're going to be experiencing a lot of rain or even snow. You can buy rain boots for pretty affordable prices at stores like DSW or ASOS, but if you want to get a super high quality pair, cop some Hunter rain boots like the ones seen here.

Buy it at Urban Outfitters for $140

Do you plan to do your college shopping way ahead of time or at the last minute? What about packing? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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