College Wardrobe Essentials: Purchasing Tips & Checklist

If you are planning to go to college and are not sure what wardrobe basics you will need to take with you – here are a few basic tips to help you decide what clothing you will need to purchase for college. Also, if you scroll down the page, I have created a checklist that lists specific items you may need.

Make a Checklist that includes the types of clothes you need to purchase (see my College Wardrobe Essentials Checklist below).

Take an inventory of what you already have at home and put those items aside.

Set a time line for what needs to be purchase and by what date so that you won’t end up running around at the last minute trying to buy everything.

Set a Laundry Schedule: It is a good ideas to determine how many of each item you want to take with you. If you plan on wearing jeans everyday, you don’t want to go to school with only 2 pairs. It is important to set a schedule on how often you will be doing laundry, this can help you decide how many of each item you will need to take to school.



The best tip I have for finding deals is to visit the website of the store(s) where you may want to shop and sign up for their email list. Many stores will notify when they are having a sale, and some may even include a coupon that you can use online or in the store.

  • Outlet Malls: Many outlet malls offer incredible savings on clothes. For additional savings, sign up for the VIP or Preferred Shopper Program for your local outlet mall. You can get advanced notice for special sales and get access to special coupons to help you save more money.
  • Department Stores – carry all the popular brands of clothing for men and women. Also, many offer online shopping and special discounts through their websites. If you shop at the end of a season, you can find some amazing deals on clearance merchandise.
  • Gap or Old Navy – has more than just jeans, they have tailored blazers, button-down shirts, outerwear, and much more. You can find some good bargains on basic wardrobe items.
  • – offers discount prices on apparel, handbags, accessories, and much more. You can find great deals on designer-brand clothing.
  • – carries many of the popular designer brands of apparel, shoes, and accessories at discount prices. You can find amazing discounts for as much as 50%-70% Off.
  • or – Find shoes and handbags – these online stores carry women and men’s athletic, dress, and casual shoes, as well as backpacks, duffel bags, and computer bags.

**Before buying anything online, it is always best to check the return policy. Some stores do not allow returns on clearance merchandise. See my article for How to Protect Yourself When Ordering Online.



Wardrobe Basics

  • Jeans
  • Casual shirts (t-shirts)
  • Button-Down Shirts
  • Polo Shirts
  • Sweaters
  • Sweat shirts
  • Sweat pants
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Stockings (women)
  • Slippers/Flip Flops
  • Robe
  • Light-weight Jacket (trench coat)

Business/Formal Attire

  • Suit or Business Attire
  • Button-Down Shirt (men)
  • Blouses (women)
  • Tie (men)
  • Dress pants
  • Suit Jacket
  • Trench Coat


  • Tennis Shoes
  • Casual walking shoes
  • Dress Shoes

See Also: College Wardrobe Essentials