When you’re ready to enter college you might look back on your middle school or early high school photos and cringe at the trendy outfits you wore.  If you’re not careful, the same will be true when, as a graduate, you look back to your freshman fashion choices with horror and humiliation. 

The good news is that you need not fall victim to common fashion faux pas during your first year of college.  With a few wardrobe staples and an understanding of how to mix timeless and trendy styles, you can style yourself a trendsetter and enjoy looking back at your freshman fashion choices years down the road.  Here are a few fashion basics to kick off your college career in style.

College Fashion Basics for Freshmen


There’s no need to ditch your carefully curated collection of graphic tees in favor of business-casual attire when you enter college – after all, you’re not in the working world just yet.  That said, you could definitely up the style ante by tossing any tees that are torn, stained, or otherwise unsuitable to wear in public.  Just to change it up once in a while, think about adding a few brightly colored or patterned fun and funky tops to the mix as well.


In terms of bottoms, there are a couple of ways you can go.  If jeans are your go-to garments for your bottom half, make sure they’re in good condition.  Don’t forget that trousers and leggings can also act as the neutral base for any outfit, allowing you to add more color, texture, and pattern with a variety of tops (that are bound to cost less than statement pants, for example).  If you want to spice up your bottoms, however, consider adding skirts to your wardrobe for a budget-friendly alternative to statement slacks.

Finishing Pieces

A top and a bottom might provide coverage, but they do not an outfit make.  In order to complete your look you need to add a finisher piece like a cardigan or jacket.  If comfort is your top priority, pick a stretchy cardigan.  If you like a more structured look, a blazer is the way to go.  As for adding some visual interest and expressing your personal style, think about belting a short kimono jacket in place of a standard blazer or wearing a fitted leather jacket or a satin bomber instead of a hoodie.  You’ll definitely turn heads and earn fashion accolades for going a bit off the beaten path.


If you’ve assembled a relatively neutral palette to make selecting your daily outfits easier, you can definitely add color, shine, texture, and visual interest to every outfit with your choice of accessories, from shoes and jewelry to hats, scarves, and glasses.  Just make sure not to go overboard.  Take a page from Coco Chanel and remove at least one accessory before you leave for class.


True, totes technically fall under the category of accessories, but considering how much stuff the average college freshman carries around, having functional and fashionable totes deserves its own mention.  Whether you prefer backpacks, messenger bags, oversized purses, or actual tote bags you need to make sure that your wardrobe includes totes that are not only suitable for lugging your books all over the New England College campus (in terms of size, durability, comfort, and so on), but that also compliment your stylish wardrobe.