This post is sponsored by eBay and Her Campus Media. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wandering Brunette possible!
If I was being honest, I was not always as fashionable as I am today. Granted, my mom gave me a run for my money when she was dressing me up in matching sets from stores like Costco and Target but once she handed the reins over to me – it took me a while to find my style.
I did the “scene” thing in middle school if you remember that phase. Count your blessings if you missed it. In high school, I wore a denim jacket with a dress and sandals every single day and I was really into those designer jeans with so many rhinestones on the back pockets that it hurt to sit down. In my freshman year of college, I could hardly be bothered to put on anything besides a tee shirt and gym shorts. Now, we’re here with Kirsten’s evolved sense of style – functional and fashionable. I tend to alternate basic pieces with trendy pieces and I’m always on the hunt for a good deal.
Now, people also associate “fashionista” with “big spender” and I am here to tell you that that is most certainly not the case with me. While I may splurge on a few items here and there (totally guilty of spending over $50 on a cute shirt with cactus on it), I’m all about getting a good deal and not overspending on one product. One of my favorite online shopping sites for a long time has been eBay – I’ve found so many good deals! Did you know that actually 80% of all merchandise sold on eBay is brand spankin’ new? And 87% of items sold on eBay are Buy It Now – so there is no bidding necessary! I can’t even tell you how many awesome finds are on Ebay – I’ve bought designer jeans, brand name jewelry, and even new tech from the site!
I’m going to be real honest with you – people are not really going to care how you dress in college. They’re too wrapped up in their own lives and schoolwork to worry about yours. You can wear a robe to class and you’ll probably get some head nods from people who’ve done the same thing and maybe a few strange looks from the haters. I used to worry that I would stand out if I dressed too fashionable – as if there is such a thing! Once I realized that their opinion didn’t matter, I wasn’t nervous to dress up for class anymore. In fact, it became my thing. I was one of the only girls in my classes that did dress up, since most never graduated from the tee shirt and shorts phase. (There’s nothing wrong with that either.) I may have gotten some stares from the few who didn’t appreciate my sense of style but for the most part, I felt better about myself (dress well, test well) and I really impressed the few people did take notice.
If you want to be known as the fashionista in college, it’s a lot easier than you may think. I developed a go-to “uniform” that makes picking outfits easier in the morning. Generally, I have a few outfit combinations that just work for me and I stick to those outfits and a combination of my favorite colors.
So, for your aid, I created my ultimate Fashionista’s Back to College Packing + Shopping Guide. My hope for you is that you don’t over-pack or under-pack (I’ve done both) or end up bringing things along that you’ll never wear!
What to Pack:
4-5 Simple Tees: I’m telling you, I wish I had more cute, go-with-everything tee shirts when I first started college. Personally, I recommend simple tee shirts with little details like pockets, cold shoulders or solid shirts in varying colors and cuts. Try getting a few neutral colors like black, white, and gray and a few statement colors in good-fitting crewnecks, v-necks, and any other shape you like.
Kirsten’s tip: Get a few tees or tanks with fun prints too! I love the printed tank I’m wearing below or even a simple striped tee to add a little something extra to a look!
3-4 Blouses: My signature style almost always involves a button up. I have a white button up that can go with everything from jeans to slacks for work and that is a must. Invest in a few other colors too!
3-4 Sweaters: Everyone and their mother told me not to bring my winter clothes when I first packed for college. This was a mistake. I didn’t get my winter clothes until Thanksgiving, which was much too late. We got a few cold snaps in October and I was left high and dry without my sweaters.
2-4 Pairs of Shorts: Since I live in Arizona, these are almost more of a necessity than jeans. Personally, I prefer high rise shorts that fit a little looser than my jeans. A few go-to pairs are perfect for throwing on with a cute blouse.
1-2 Pairs of Slacks: If you have an interview or even a job in college, a good pair of black slacks and a pair of khaki slacks are a must-have. They match nearly every blouse in your closet and are appropriate for almost every occassion.
2-4 Skirts: how many you bring is totally up to you. I own a ton of skirts. Literally, more than 15. I have three denim skirts, two leather skirts, and a few wrap skirts. I wear them more often than my shorts, but that’s personal preference. My denim skirt with a cute blouse tied at the waist will always be a cute go-to outfit.
3-5 Pairs of Leggings: Ok, the be all end all of your college wardrobe. I wear my black leggings all the time. They are perfect to wear with a denim jacket and some cute statement tennies (think Adidas Superstars) or with an oversized sweater and ankle boots. I recommend solid black pairs or pairs that can at least double in a daytime outfit and to the gym.
2-4 Pairs of Jeans: The simpler, the better. My go-to jeans include a pair of stretchy, dark wash skinnies (pictured below) and another also stretchy pair of high-waisted, distressed ankle jeans. I also recommend a good pair of bootcut jeans and a pair of black jeans to really round out your closet. I tend to stay away from light washes since they need to be washed more often, but if you get a good dark wash, medium wash, and black wash, a light wash pair of jeans can really round out your wardrobe.
Rain Jacket: I think this is one of the most important pieces of outerwear to remember. Even in Arizona, we get rain. In fact, have you heard of monsoon season? There is nothing worse than showing up to class and having to sit there and try to learn while you’re dripping wet with hair looking like that girl from The Ring. Just get a cute weather-resistant jacket and throw it on for those less-than-dry days.
Denim Jacket: I have two denim jackets and I wear both all the time. Although you probably don’t need two, I would recommend at least one. They’re easy to throw on over a dress when it’s chilly at night or in the morning and add a little something extra to a lot of outfits.
Statement Jacket: I have three moto jackets that fit well into this category. While you don’t need three, a fun statement jacket like a suede jacket or red moto jacket is a fun way to make a fashion statement in the colder weather. If you go to college in a colder climate, a good peacoat is another good statement jacket to pack.
Blazer: Personally, I recommend a navy blazer – it’s good for almost anything. A navy blazer isn’t too dark and matches a lot of casual outfits but if you bring a navy skirt, it makes for the perfect suit too.
Hoodie: I feel like this one is a no brainer. While I don’t wear mine often, I definitely love having it to throw on when I’m relaxing at home.
Cardigan: A cardigan is another easy way to dress up a late summer outfit going into fall. I’m wearing a long black cardigan below, which matches just about everything. It’s perfect with dresses and booties and riding boots, jeans, and a blouse.
Rain boots: Just like for the rain jacket, these will definitely come in handy. If you don’t want to get boots, at least get water resistant shoes of some type for rainy days. My friend uses a pair of jelly sandals.
Boots and Booties: I have way too many pairs of boots but I love all of them. The essentials really just include a pair of riding boots and a pair of simple black, low-heel booties. I’ve also added a pair of tan ankle boots, and a pair of over the knee boots to my wardobe.
*Kirsten’s tip: I’m wearing my favorite pair of over-the-knee boots below, which I think are the perfect boots to make an otherwise simple look more fashionable. Bonus, they’re pretty comfortable and flattering too.
Sandals: At least one pair of flip flops is a necessity. If you’re going to school in a warmer climate, bring more. If you’re going to school in a colder climate, bring less. Aside from flip-flops, a pair of leather slides (or another luxe material), one pair of heeled sandals (for dressier occassions), and a pair of sandals with a backstrap are other good pairs to have.
Tennis Shoes: I have my slip-on vans for casual days and my Nike’s for working out. More than that is just optional.
Flats: Just bring at least one pair of black flats. Thank me later.
Pumps: I have a pair of three inch heels that look just as good going out as they do in the office. At least one sensible pair is a necessity. If you want to bring high, high heels, all I can say is that you probably won’t wear them as much as you think. I brought an old pair for a few years and only ended up wearing them for formal events like sorority formal and going out in Las Vegas. They’ve since been replaced.
Dresses and Rompers: I didn’t really have the best category to stick this in, so here it is. Dresses and rompers are not essential for every single college girl, but I love having a simple outfit to throw on and not think about. I would definitely take a simple, flattering dress (mine is a black slip dress) and add whatever else you’d like. My dress collection could rival a princess, so just remember the source. I would tell you to pack all your dresses, but you really probably need closer to 5.
Jewelry: Only bring your favorite pieces unless you want a ton of jewelry taking up space. I would recommend only a few necklaces, your favorite bracelets, a watch and little else. This way, you won’t have to worry about them getting stolen. I don’t accessorize much, earrings mostly, and found that I tend to rotate my few favorite pieces.
Scarves: I have about 3 scarves and hardly wear them. If you go to college in a colder climate, you might want them more. I break out my scarves when I travel in the winter and for the few cold (below 50) days we get in Tucson. I have a white fleece scarf, a plaid blanket scarf, and a plain tan scarf that really matches everything.
Bags: Last but not least, my absolute favorite accessory. The must-haves are a cute backpack, a simple black crossbody and a functional tote bag. I have plently of other bags – like statement crossbodies and various colored totes – but those are the necessities. Really, I only use those three the most and switch out for another one only on occassion. Personally, I opt to use my simple black Longchamp tote in leu of a backpack, but I do use backpacks from time to time when I have to carry a lot. My personal favorite are the Hershel backpacks – cute, timless, and functional!
Here is one of my favorite back-to-college looks! For more cute back-to-college looks, check out eBay’s BTC lookbook HERE!
What I’m Wearing: