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Top Tips to Upgrade Your Style and Wardrobe for a New You in College

College is a whole new world, so why not explore a whole new you? Embrace your new reality through personal style with these wardrobe and fashion tips.

In the liminal territory between high school and college, you know things are about to profoundly change; you’re just not sure how. You’ll be leaving home, saying goodbye to old friends you’ve grown up with, and walking into a whole new world. It’s exhilarating and also terrifying! But there are ways you can support your own successful transition to college—including self-expression. Now is a good time to take an honest look at your wardrobe. How can you work to make it a little more “adult-in-training” and a little less teen? Here’s how and why you should take these steps as part of your ascension to the demanding world of higher learning and growing up.

Tell your story with your wardrobe

Regardless of who you are, what you wear tells a story. The story you tell with your clothes is crucial—it’s no myth that first impressions are lasting ones. But that’s not to say you should dress for other people; you should dress as who you are, making it clear to others that you’re self-aware and comfortable in your self-expression. Self-awareness puts the observer on your turf with you directing the narrative. In that context, the story your clothes tell other people becomes a powerful, intentional tool that builds confidence. Dressing in a way that both pleases you and looks to the future you want is a matter of balancing those two priorities.

College is the perfect time to revamp your wardrobe with an eye on projecting positivity and confidence as features of your personal style. You’ll need plenty of both to find your footing in a whole new world of exploring your interests and meeting new people. Tell your story with pride, and never be afraid of color. If you feel good wearing a vibrant color, don’t let yourself be talked out of it. You’re fortunate to live in an age in which fashion’s boundaries are increasingly gender fluid, accommodating all personal expression. Calm your shyness by starting with accessories and working your way up to separates and shoes—the sky’s the limit! Who are you going to be when you graduate? Start showing people now!

Related: 12 Tips and Tricks to Build Confidence in High School

Clean out your closet

You have a vision of who you are and what you want to be. But what is your closet telling you? Maybe some of what it holds isn’t up to the college transition. Sorting through your wardrobe may seem intimidating, and you may be sentimental about some items. But know this: You’ll feel so much lighter when the clothes you won’t be wearing at college are gone. The past is a memory, but the future is now. Be in your “now” and be honest with yourself about clothing that no longer serves you or matches your personality.

When disposing of your clothes, consider holding a yard sale or donating items to a thrift shop. Moving old clothes to another user keeps them out of the landfill. Someone can enjoy them, and if you have a yard sale, you’ll make a few bucks for new clothes! Items to keep include clothes that need updates or changes but are of superior quality. Clothing pieces with quality fabric and construction can be masterfully fitted and updated by a competent tailor—or better yet, you could get some new pieces custom-made from the old material. Quality never goes out of style, and neither does custom-made clothing. Plus, recycling or repurposing older clothes is sustainable!

Utilize the sleek aesthetic

“Sleek” is the perfect word to encompass the qualities of a wardrobe you can take to college with confidence and style. In college, you may not have the time or money for fashion and being fancy, but you want to look your best, feel confident, and make a great first impression that draws people to you. Sleek is streamlined, slicing through time and space (and the quad) to make your lecture on time.

Upgrade your ordinary high school casual wear to upscale sportswear that transitions you into adulthood. That laidback oceanside vibe has gone from the street to the runway with sleek, youthful designs for fit and comfort. Often made from recycled materials like sea plastic, quality button-ups, and super-soft fabrics will reduce your carbon footprint too! These are tactile, well-made pieces that are the perfect upgrade from that “teen” wardrobe you were sporting on your high school campus. Getting sleek with unfussy clothing that fits beautifully makes you feel amazing and works with you as an excellent ally for a low-stress college life.

Put it all together

When you showcase a personal-style fingerprint, you declare your comfort in your own skin. That’s attractive and inspirational to others. To wear your truth, gravitate to what calls to you. Your personal style is there, but you won’t see it until you put it all together. Answer the call of individual pieces, either new or already in your closet, and build your personal style from the heart. Remember that the first rule of personal style is to wear what you feel comfortable, confident, and formidable wearing. Never wear clothes that don’t fit or just to please others; wear what lights you up and energizes you. Your personal style is ready for its college debut. Spend some time with your closet, but think outside it to revamp and refresh it.

Related: 8 Fashion Basics Students Need to Bring to College

College is the birthplace of adulthood, so play the part. You’re an adult in progress, so it will take some time to adjust to new places, faces, and routines with confidence. Finding your own personal style will let everyone know that you’re ready for the challenges ahead. With enhanced confidence, your new wardrobe will proclaim that you’re self-aware, put together, and ready for a future that starts right now. A whole new world awaits—enter it stylishly!

Find even more advice for living confidently on campus in our Student Life section.

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About Tess DiNapoli

Tess DiNapoli

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.


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