College Dress Code


Life at college involves a lot of different settings: going to class, hanging out with your friends, going to casual parties and formal events.  College marks the entry to adulthood, at least for a lot of Americans, so whether you’re in a relaxed setting or a formal one, the main thing to focus on is to choose clothes that are more grown-up than what you wore in high school.

For the ladies

Strike a balance in dressing for class between enjoying a relaxed look and taking yourself seriously so that your professor will too.  Jeans and a nice sweater or top work nicely.  If you wear leggings, wear them as tights, not pants — with a dress or long tunic that covers your butt.  The one wardrobe tweak that will take you farthest in your shift from high school to college is to stop buying “juniors” clothing, if you haven’t already.  You can still wear fun shoes and accessories — but ones designed for twentysomethings rather than your 13-year-old sister. College Dress Code

For the guys

Dressing for college separates the men from the boys, at least appearance-wise.  You might want to get a stylish pair of shoes instead of sneakers.  You’ll find yourself wearing fewer printed T-shirts and sweatshirts, and more classed-up shirts and nice sweaters.  Pay attention to fit — wearing clothes that fit you well (aren’t too youthfully cut or too baggy on you) is key for your new look.

Rules of Thumb

  • Don’t wear sweatpants or, god forbid, pajamas outside your dorm.  There’s a line between relaxed and sloppy.  That’s the line.
  • Definitely, definitely don’t wear anything that has writing on the butt.  Do you want everyone to be reading your butt?  Think about it again: everyone?
  • Ladies, don’t wear ridiculously skimpy clothing to class on a cold day.  It comes across as a bit too obvious.  Nobody’s too hot to be cold.
  • Make sure to bring at least one or two nice formal outfits for dances and, um, formals.
  • Don’t forget a professional-looking outfit for interviews or meetings where you’ll want to look your best.