Ah, the end of summer. Now that the days are getting shorter and class is nearly in session, it’s officially time to start planning your back-to-school outfits. But unlike when you’re stocking up on textbooks or tricking out your dorm room, it’s tough to anticipate what you’ll actually need (or want) to wear during the course of a semester, let alone a full year.
It’s true that you can never go wrong with a collegiate sweatshirt and a pair of Birks. (During midterms and finals, they’re practically the uniform.) However, putting together cute and comfy outfits with limited closet space, and an even tighter budget, takes some trial and error—but you don’t have to go it alone. To help you conjure up the best college outfit ideas, we asked real college students from around the country for their top tips and picks.
From an incoming freshman to a first-year grad student, the ten looks ahead will inspire you for every class, cram session, and party lined up this semester.
Asha Gorjala, senior at the University of Texas at Austin
Fashion merchandising major Asha Gorjala plans on creating countless outfits around an exercise dress and a matching skirt set this semester. She wears the former “to class, to the coffee shop, and to my internship” layered with a T-shirt underneath. The latter “always looks so put-together and coordinated” wherever you go, and she’s also a fan of wearing each piece separately to get more use out of them.
Tamara Avinami, freshman at Indiana University
Tamara Avinami, a marketing major, says she’s always used clothes to stand out from the crowd. To keep her back-to-school outfits unique, she invested in pieces that speak to her personal style: knee-high boots, lacey tops, and statement purses, all of which she throws on when her going-out looks could use a little more personality. “Depop is my best friend when it comes to these finds,” she explains, but you can also find new pieces with the same vibe.
Fatimah Muhammad, junior at Winston-Salem State University
“Confidence is everything [when it comes to] style,” North Carolina-based nursing major Fatimah Muhammad tells Glamour, so it makes sense that instead of trying to stay on-trend, she recommends reaching for pieces that make you feel most like yourself. Her back-to-school closet includes midi and maxi dresses for wearing out with friends, to day parties, and during formal occasions on campus. No matter what outfit she chooses, she’ll probably end up wearing Converse sneakers, since you can dress them up or down—and they’ll always be in.
Brianna Urea, junior at the University of Central Florida
Political science major and TikTok big sister Brianna Urea says that any college student can get a ton of wear out of a corset top and a pair of leather pants. While corsets lean a little trendy, they’re not going away anytime soon (just ask Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber), and she explains that the pants “elevate” everything from presentation looks to going out ’fits. Top this outfit off with gold huggie hoops—a personal favorite of Urea’s—for a little extra polish.