{what to wear} the college years

"You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You'll never remember class time, but you'll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don't have. Drink 'til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does...”
Tom Petty

I am a college student myself; therefore I understand the urges you must be feeling – the ones that say it’s okay to drag yourself off to class in the same pair of ratty sweats you fell asleep in last night during a cram session. Do not succumb to such immoral thoughts; like the devil himself, they are leading you in the wrong direction – one that will leave you feeling unfashionable and downright icky for your entire college career.

One of the most important things about college is finally having the ability to define yourself, and let your true personality shine through; thus, abandoning all semblance of your individuality by adhering to the unofficial college dress code of bulky boots, velour tracksuits with vulgar words splashed across the…ahem, bum, and oversized sweatshirts embellished with the name of your alma mater is something that you must refrain from making. I am well-aware of your scant budget, your lack of sleep, and your party hardy ways; but all that aside, you can still be chic in college, it just takes a bit of extra effort to achieve true. college. class.


bomber jackets

{bombs away} One of the most amazing items you will ever add to your closet, I kid you not, is a bomber jacket; a heavenly slice of leather or faux leather that is an essential for the crisp fall weather. Not only does it keep you warm, but it is ideal for both layering, and ensuring that you look effortlessly put-together at all times. While black is a color I instantly turn to when investing in tees and dresses, in the case of bombers, I find that a piece in a rich toffee/caramel color {think VEDA's Max Convertible Leather Jacket in Desert} is much more wearable, for it can be paired with any shade in your wardrobe, and doesn’t give off the rough and tumble biker babe look that an ebony-hued bit instantly creates. One thing to remember is not to allow the fact that bomber jackets hit at the hip scare you off; let your long tees and cardigans to peek out from the hem, it only makes your look a bit more carefree and bohemian, and really, who doesn’t adore that!

{flat and fabulous} College campuses are like a small village; and your academic advisor? Let’s just say it is his or her mission to ensure that each one of your classes is far enough away from one another that you spend at least half – if not more – of your time trotting from one end of the quad to the other. The moral of this story? Wear flats.

Do not cave to the insecurities of your petite stature for you will only regret such a move come the end of the day when your feet are riddled with blisters and you can hardly hobble from your dorm room to the cafeteria, all thanks to your desire to teeter above your fellow undergrads. Save your stilettos for nights out with the girls, or special occasions; when on school grounds be flat and fabulous!

Two types of flats will get you through the school year – ballerinas and flat boots. Think of them as your new best friend, as they will see you through frenemies and flirting, successes and failures, and a handful of other milestones over the next four years. As such, choose wisely. I recommend staying in the neutral category when it comes to boots – cognacs, grays, dark browns, and blacks will match virtually everything in your closet and add an air of polish to your person. A top choice is the Steven by Steve Madden's 'Intyce' Boot. It's available in more colors than you can count, completely affordable, and holds up in all weather.

With ballerina flats, I say go wild! When not wearing boots you’ll most frequently find me in leopard print ballerinas - specifically, Target's Madge Flat in Leopard Print. Ballerinas give you the chance to have fun with color, so be ravishing in red; be glamorous in gold; sparkle in sequins; or channel your inner Audrey in raven {Sam Edelman's Felicia in Black Leather is perfect for the task}. Just this once allow your shoes to do both the walking, and the talking!

skinny jeans

{darling in denim} The desire to purchase any pair of jeans that looks good on you, regardless of the towering pile of denim stacked up in the corner of your dorm room may be almost too great to bear, but for both the sake of your wallet and your roommate’s sanity, please don’t. As long as you own at least three pairs of well-constructed jeans, then you’re in good shape.

I recommend having a trio of differentiating denim at all times – one dark wash, one medium wash, and one light wash {I'm personally obsessed with Free People's Ankle Skinny Jeans in Carrie Wash – all in the cut you favor. It may seem impossible, but you can easily survive on three good pairs of jeans – as long as there’s nothing noticeable about them, like studding or another type of embellishment. Remember, you’re going to be rotating these through your wardrobe a lot, so choose styles and washes that are unobtrusive and easily worn multiple times per week.

If you’re going to add a fourth pair of denim to your closet, let it be a pair of black ones. You have no idea how many times you’ll be expected to dress up completely out of the blue, and won’t feel like donning a dress or a pair of slacks. Black jeans look more polished and classy, and instantly make you appear as if you put a bit more effort into your look du jour. On that note, when you find a great pair of black jeans; scoop them up immediately – take it from a voice of experience, it’s nearly impossible to find ebony-hued denim that you truly adore nowadays!

“I learned three important things in college – to use a library, to memorize quickly and visually, to drop asleep at anytime given a horizontal surface and fifteen minutes.”
Agnes DeMille

{collar couture} While statement necklaces are a true love of mine, unless you’re on your way to a party, college campuses are not necessarily a choice location to don them; especially when it’s 8:00a.m., and your sparkly bauble is blinding your still half-asleep classmates. Forgoing a necklace, however, does not mean that you must sacrifice all traces of making a statement. A very versatile way to dress up a simple t-shirt, or add a splash of kitschy color to the day’s outfit can easily, and effortlessly, be accomplished with the assistance of a scarf. Scarves are ideal in the sense that they add a smattering of sophistication and mysteriousness to your style while remaining completely unfussy. Even better, you don’t have to know the secret to tying one; simply loop mark's Bold and Bright Scarf into a European knot or allow it to dangle carelessly in the breeze – either way looks divine.


{cardi crush} It’s true, you may have literally rolled out of bed five minutes ago, tossed on a cardigan, and teetered off to class; but no one has to know that for sure. Quite frankly, one of the biggest draws of the cardigan is that it provides a very European type of effortless beauty so eloquently put forth by the likes of Brigitte Bardot, which makes you come off as extremely blasé and been there done that courtesy of the rumpled yet refined savoir faire it instantly lends to any look you happen to be rocking – from skinnies to minis and everything in between.

Like the scarf, a cardigan holds the power to transform your look in mere moments, and will ultimately become a constant clothing companion year-round. Plus, they’re fairly inexpensive so you can indulge in a handful of them with little to no guilt. Last year I spent a total of $6 for two cardigans which I peruse on an almost daily basis. To this day, this satisfying samba with savings is the crowning moment of my personal shopping career. It is also proof that you don’t have to subsist solely on Ramen to look radiant.

Choose whatever color catches your eye when cardigan shopping – the only two hues I advise you to ensure you’re never without are gray and black. You would be surprised at how much use you will get out of a gray cardigan. Gray works with every color of the rainbow on so many levels, yet is both muted and magnificent, so you always look ravishing. Remember though, whether you’re wearing a cardigan that hits at the hip or droops to your knees, always size upthe cardigan serves as a lightweight jacket of sorts, so you want to make sure it can comfortably fit over whatever top you happen to be wearing. Forever 21's Classic Draped Front Cardigan and Classic Boyfriend Cardigan are fab examples of affordable cardis - both under $14.00, and so chic.

{a coat of many colors} Whether you’re attending school in a tropical climate or the forests of Alaska, a winter coat should always be lurking in the depths of your closet; perhaps behind all those cast-aside Homecoming dresses. Even if you never use it, such a garment is essential as it will give you peace of mind. Suppose a last minute opportunity to study abroad in London were to prevent itself? Why you’d already be prepared with a coat that would see you through the overcast semester!

Unlike an ordinary jacket, when it comes to finding the coat of your dreams, look for something crafted of wool, as it holds up well in any type of weather, and manages to keep you warm from the top of your head to the very tip of your toes. I prefer to stay in the neutral toned family when coat shopping, opting for pieces in black or dark colors {though the Jou Jou Studded Coat isn't bad either}. If you’d like to play Blair Waldorf and be bold with your color choice, however, offerings in pumpkin spice or cranberry are extremely eye-catching, and bound to leave an impression. And if you’re the girl who can’t quite decide, you can never go wrong with a pleasing plaid {or a Burberry Brit Balmoral Trench Coat}. Keep in mind that a coat is a definite investment piece – choose wisely now so there are no regrets later!

graphic tees

{tee time} Obviously a wardrobe is incomplete without a few t-shirts to choose from. I prefer sticking to the basics, such as simple v-necks and crewnecks like those available from Target. Typically they’re under $10 apiece, and if bought in a variety of colors they can easily see you through the entire year. They also look amazing for nights off campus if tucked into tulip or bandage skirts, and are extremely easy to accessorize, so you can make the look your own.

Vintage tees are also fun – like the ones displaying retro bands {Chaser's Judas Priest Tee is glam}, cartoon characters, or timeless movies across the front. When paired with skinny jeans and boots they manage to take on an air of chic sophistication, despite the fact that they have an element of grunge to the design.

If you truly feel the need to incorporate a few more tops into your college wardrobe, though you certainly don’t have to, those with a drapey style are an amazing choice as they appear slightly more dressy than the typical tee, and are just as comfortable as they are trendy.

{the sack} As children, going to the store each fall to select the backpack that would see us through countless milestones throughout the year was one of the highlights of our lives. We’d hem and haw over My Little Pony or Care Bears; haggle over colors; and even compare the benefits, or lack thereof, of owning a JanSport or a High Sierra. There’s no need to change tradition now that you’re in college; simply switch it up a bit. Ditch the backpack for a classier carryall; something that makes you feel elegant yet has the ability to hold all of life’s little necessities {I love the Ecote Double-Buckle Tote Bag}. Always look for something that is large enough for lugging your laptop to the library for late night study sessions, but comfortable enough to carry for countless hours each day – you’re too young to have back problems already!


{the mad hatter} I have faced the embarrassment of bad hair. I have fallen asleep at my desk while studying; my face nestled in the spine of my oversized textbook in the most unflattering of ways, only to awaken three hours later with five minutes to get to class, and my bangs the victim of the worst possible crease in history. This is bound to happen to you at least once {though probably dozens of times} during your college career. Do not spend those last five minutes attempting to tame your mane…it won’t work. Right now, a hat is your only savior.

Typically I am not the biggest advocate of any headwear aside from the occasional headband. In college, however, hats take on the role of best friend. They have the ability to make you look presentable even when you’re sporting the worst possible ‘do underneath; plus they add an adorable touch to your look – as long as you wear the right ones.

Leave all forms of baseball caps to boys – on them they can look cute; on females they can often look sloppy, and don’t usually pair well with our outfits. I recommend two different types of head accoutrement: newsboy caps and slouchy knit berets / beanies.

Newsboy caps have a very old-fashioned ambiance to them which is extremely elegant – it doesn’t hurt that they have a slight brim as well; perfect for covering those sleepy eyes on days when you simply can’t bring yourself to swipe on a few coats of mascara. Though my favorite in terms of headgear is the slouchy knit beanie {the Deena & Ozzy Super Slouchy Beanie is fab}, for the sheer fact that they can be worn year-round, and are, quite possibly, the simplest way to add a pop of color to your ensemble.

As a warning, remove hats of all kinds with caution. I suffer from hat hair myself; thus, when I put a hat on, I wear it all day – as in I don’t take it off until I’m in the privacy of my own home. If you have the same problem, search for a cute hat that you won’t mind wearing for long periods of time; that way you won’t have to worry about frightening anyone – namely a cute boy – with your atrocious hat hair.

“A college education should equip one to entertain three things: a friend, an idea, and oneself.”
Thomas Ehrlrich



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ellie said...

Awesome college edition! Love the cardigan! And of course the knitted beret! Cool quote too!

Congrats on whats ahead for you, too!

ivy said...

Love your picks! All the best for the future!

mazzymay said...

Oh, this is exciting. So glad to see your post today. Love the cardigan and other cool things.

ellie's desk said...

Beautiful essentials! Definitely, going for the flats in college. Great quote too.

Couture Carrie said...

Amazing post, darling!
Love the cardis.
And so exciting that you are going to law school! I was a lawyer for several years before becoming a teacher and then a blogger. You are going to love law school! Be sure to try to get on the Law Review. Feel free to email if you need any advice :)


Matea Saric said...

Love the first quote, it's so true :) Flats, beanies and simple tees are the perfect college essentials, I remember wearing them all the time :)

And good luck with the law studies, you must be so excited :))

bridechic said...

I'm nowhere near a college girl but love the tee-shirts they're wearing!

caroline @ patagonia gifts said...

fabulous post Erika! very helpfull tips. I adore bomber jackets, have them in black, red, tan... I need a white one now! xx


Alexa said...

Love this college edition! Such great styles all around!

Oh to Be a Muse said...

I'm all about flats, dark wash, head gear and comfy attire when in college (or probably always). It's an easy way to look good without trying too hard since you're so busy, especially if in law school. Congrats, luv!

Enter the Divissima Swimwear Giveaway!
Shop Layered Muse

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Great post! I just graduated from college, but I did try and do some of these things near the end when my fashion began to change, like scarves, etc.

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Damn I wish I looked this good in college!

Tiffany Kadani said...

This is such an amazing and thorough post!! Wow! And triple yes on wild flats! The people out here dress so BORING, so this is exactly the inspiration I need, even though I'm not in college.

Janet Taylor said...

Yepp, dejavue! I have a similar inspiration post, haha! :)

Sara Gerard said...

THIS IS MAKING ME WANT TO SHOP SO BAD! I just bought some 'work clothes' because I miss buying back to school clothes so much. Sniffle.

Congrats on law school! You are already a busy lady, I hope you keep blogging :)

Pooja Mittal said...

Ohh, college days are so nice, no tention , no stress all you gotto do is chill and enjoy with friends...
Clothes in your post are perfect for college..
Keep in touch,

Johanna V said...

Great post, and nice style picks :) I hope you have fun in college and don't get as stressed out as I did :) ♥

Stephanie Timmins said...

Such a fabulous college collection ! Love the cardigans and cute berets!
Do visit my blog and if you like follow on GFC,Facebook Bloglovin, Instagram and Twitter, leave a comment and I'll surely follow back!


Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

A cardigan is a must for me!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

Midnight Cowgirl said...

Love slouchy knit berets and beanies! Congrats on law school!

Bellas Shelf said...

I FINALLY feel like I can fit in with you (style wise)! lolz!
I live in my draped front cardi's, beanies, "brand" tee's, jeans, designs on them flats (my target gold glitter flats r my fave), 24/7!
I'll toss on the Uggs too..lolz..
Ill wear the cardi, flats and sweats too.
Some combo of the above always with a benaie hat is my Fall/Winter gear. Ok, almost year round. Who am I kidding?
Thanks to you I am learning how to update it a bit. It was looking waay too sloppy.
I added a few cool pieces like statement necklaces, bangles, proper fitting jeans, etc.
When you gain weight you tend to wear too big clothing. IDK why I think it "covers' the fat, but it makes me look bigger!
I look for good plus sized fashion sites, tips, pages, anything, but I cant afford 200$ jeans like n the Maroe Claires Plus Sized Bloggers Column!
Great post as always!

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