How to Dress for College: Outfit Ideas and a Styling Guide

Cannot decide what to wear for your debut in college? Or still finding your confused self buried under a pile of clothes every morning? Here are a few steps on how to dress for college, and outfit ideas to help make your mornings a little easier!


Amidst our heart and body fighting for that extra five minutes sleep every morning, our mind is totally gearing up to decide the day’s outfit. We have been getting dolled up, and dressing up our dolls since what, we were two – or maybe three(?), but still this question, “What should I wear?” remains constant. You know, girls have always been accused of two things – one, that we have a small appetite and two, that we always keep cribbing about not having enough clothes. I am definitely ready to take on anybody for first one, but I have to say for the second, I am guilty as charged.

When we go to college there is this major shift from uniforms to no-uniforms, and from two braids or pony tails to “inhe udne do”. And I think we all love this liberalization, this chance to finally be able to dress according to our choices, depending on our moods, events, and showcase the hidden stylist within us. Although on some days of my college I just wish I could go back to wearing uniforms, because then at least I wouldn’t have to go through the “I don’t have any clothes” process, and my room would look a little better every morning. But hey, don’t you think college is all about being confused, and exploring numerous things in that confusion?


So here we have some ways (and steps) to lessen your confusion.

How to Build your College Wardrobe?

The first step in our how to dress for college guide is building your wardrobe. And what you need to build your college wardrobe is to have some basics, like everyday jeans tees and casual tops that you can wear and re-wear. Also read: 10 Wardrobe Essentials for Every Girl | Fashion Clothes

Wardrobe Essentials for Outfit Ideas:

1. Skinny jeans
2. Boyfriend Jeans
3. Culottes
4. Palazzo
5. Midi pleated skirt
6. Knee-length A-line dresses
7. Cargo Pants
8. Cotton trousers
9. Basic Tees
10. Tank tops
11. Off-shoulder tops
12. Casual shirts
13. Formal Shirts

Accessory Essentials


Hair Accessories and Jewelry:

• Plain hair ties
• Cute head-bands
• VSCO girl scrunchies
• Watch
• Hoop earrings

Must Have Bags:

• A tote bag
• Cross body bag
• Wallet
• A backpack for laptop

Must Have Shoes:

• Sneakers
• Ballet flats or open-toe flats
• Oxford shoes or loafers
• Pumps or strappy heels

Statement Pieces:

You know college days are unpredictable, you never know when a party or outing may get planned. Also, we cannot be predictive about our own mood the next morning, so it’s always good to be prepared in advance. So, following are a few essentials for your last minute party or pre-poned presentations in college to covering all your moods from “I am a fashionista” to “I woke up like this”.

1. Bomber jacket
2. Embellished jeans
3. Sheer hoodie
4. Statement necklace
5. Chain belt
6. Tassel earrings


How to Dress for College in India: Style Basics

Now that you have created a college worthy wardrobe, here are some helpful tips on how to dress for college and create your cute outfits.

Create Appropriate

It’s not just about being trendy or fashionable, I think it’s about being appropriately stylish. And when we are talking about how to dress for college, you can wear all anything and everything as long as it is okay by your institution’s unspoken dress code. So unless you are not upsetting your professors, anything you wear is cool. Understanding what to wear, and where to wear, is important. You don’t want to give a presentation in college looking like you just got out of your bed.


This is the most important step in our guide on how to dress for college because grooming makes you look and feel fresh. Before you leave for college, you should make sure that your hair is in place. Try out different cute and trendy hairstyles and mix them up with less-time consuming styles. Okay I understand that every day is not a good-hair-day, and you can’t style them differently every day. But what is important is that they should look neat, and presentable.

top Face Masks in india beauty skin care

Take good care of your hair, like introducing hair therapy and deep conditioning in your hair-care routine. Skincare is also equally important. If you don’t already have one, now is the time to create a skincare routine with natural ingredients for a nourishing skin as well. Take care of your nails, and you can do homemade facials and also manicures to keep your nails in good shape. Keep your eye-brows well-groomed and shaped.

Also Read: 15 Cute Hairstyles to Make at Home During Quarantine

Accessories and Bag

Accessories have a different charm altogether. It’s magical how they brighten up an outfit. Maybe you can put on a little pendant, or an earring, or even a headband, decide what brings out your outfit the most. Just be a little careful and don’t over-do it.

Enhance your outfit with a bag that perfectly complements your outfit. You need not change your bag every day, but when you feel that your current bag would go totally against your outfit, you should definitely go for the one that would be more suitable. But hey gorgeous, don’t forget to transfer all your belongings safely.

Makeup and More

Wondering how to dress for college if you love light makeup? Try and keep your makeup subtle. I would suggest to wear the natural look or no makeup makeup, read our article on How to Look Beautiful without Makeup & Look Good Naturally and embrace your natural skin. Or even just some eye liner, and lip-balm would be good.  You can try a colored eyeliner or mascara or a lip gloss. And then maybe once in a blue moon, or on some special occasion in college, you can surprise everyone by looking your utmost beautiful.

how to dress for college

I think more than anything, smelling good important. It just unknowingly charms everyone around you. You could have a little set of perfumes, or body mists. And if you don’t like spraying perfumes every day, you could even choose body lotions that have an appealing fragrance.

What to Wear to College: Outfit Ideas for All Occasions

Thinking about some exact outfits and how to dress for college? Don’t worry, here are a few looks for each of your phenomenal college days.

Casual Outfits for Daily Wear

1. Cargo pants+ t-shirt+ sneakers

There is nothing trendier and comfortable than cargo pants. Not only are they stylish but perfect for a long tiring day. Plus they come in plenty of fun colors. Pick any t-shirt from your wardrobe and voila, you’ve got a trendy-comfy outfit. Complete your look by wearing your most favorite pair of sneakers. If you don’t wanna look all sporty and a little fancy, then you could even wear hoops.

Hair-do: Go for half-bun style or just blow-dry your hair and let them down.

Cargo Pants via Shein, Graphic T-shirt via H&M, Lip Balm via Sephora

2. Pleated Skirt+ printed top+ belt

Pleated skirt is all over the runways this season. It is fancy yet casual, and surely a multi-purpose skirt that goes with blazers, casual tees, and can even be worn to parties. Pair a pleated skirt with any printed or bright colored top or tee from your wardrobe. You can also pair a dark colored skirt with a simple off-the-shoulder top or tee.

Wear an embellished belt to add the right amount fancy to your outfit, it will make you look confident yet stylish. And to complete this look I personally would wear boots. But if you don’t wanna go with boots, then you can wear glossy sneakers or even gladiator sandals.

Hair-do: Let them down or go for a cute top knot.

Pleated Skirt, White T-Shirt and Broad Belt via Shein, Nail Paint via O.P.I

3. Midi dress+ casual shirt + espadrille sandals

Go for midis, as they are airy, comfortable yet stylish. With such comfort they are perfect for a hectic day at college. You can pair them with denim jacket, or even a casual button-up shirt. As we know espadrilles have come back this season, and I think espadrilles be it sandals or loafers would go best with this outfit, striking an old-school look. I have skipped on accessories because I wanted to keep the look simple, but if you wanna add accessories you can surely experiment and explore your choices.

Hair-do: Half bun, keep them flowing.

White Midi Dress, Casual Jacket, and Espadrille Sandals via Pinterest

4. Skinny ripped jeans+ basic V neck top+ sneakers

Skinny jeans looks super fashionable, and can be paired with any top or t-shirt. Pair a skinny ripped jeans with any basic top in your wardrobe, and finish off the outfit with bright colored sneakers and a cute backpack. This is a simple outfit but looks chic. If you are pressed for time and still want to look stylish, then this is the outfit for you. It is a street style look which can be produced in no time.

Hair do: Tie a bun or go for a messy side fishtail braid.

Plain V-Neck T-Shirt via Zara, Ripped Skinny Jeans via Pinterest, and Bright Colored Nike Sneakers via Pinteres

5. Off-shoulder top+ skinny jeans+ kitten heels

On days when you are wanting to show your style statement and dress a little extra, pull out a fancy off-shoulder top maybe with some flares or bell sleeves and pair it with a skinny jeans. Finish the look with kitten heels, and a chain earrings. This outfit is perfect for when you do not want to play it casual.

Hair-do: Retro hairpins hairstyle with loose curls.

V-neck Top and Off-Shoulder Top via Shein, Kitten Heels via Zara, Skinny Jeans via Pinterest

With each of these outfit ideas, you can make a numerous variations, and rock your each day at your college feeling different, and stylish.

Semi-Formal Outfit Ideas for Presentation

I know presentations in college can get boring, and some colleges have a mandatory formal dress code. But who said that formals can be only dull and monotonous. I say experiment even with your formals, try different combinations, and colors.

1. Wide legged trousers+ poplin shirt

Go with a wide leg trouser, and a shirt. I chose a red colored trouser for this outfit because I wanted to go with something exciting, and save my outfit from belonging to the monotonous color card. The poplin white shirt that I paired with this trouser makes this outfit groovy. Lastly I chose to keep my earrings minimal, because otherwise the outfit would look a little flashy. (Cause ya, you want the screen to light, not you). Finish your look with heels or if you want to go with flats, then monk shoes would be perfect.

White Poplin shirt via Zara, Wide-legged Trousers via Pinterest, and Safety Pin Pearl Earrings via Pinterest

2. Cotton trousers+ sleeveless turtle neck top

If you wanna go different, and not wear regular shirt and trousers then this is the right outfit for you. Pair cotton trousers with a sleeveless turtleneck top, and add a thin belt. Or pair cigarette pants with a cute sleeveless button-up shirt. I suggest keep the colors neutral because we want the outfit to look more formal, and less fancy. Wear a watch, and a pair of neutral colored heels. This is my go-to formal outfit as it is rather simple and chic, and most importantly it keeps me cool, and is ideal for a sunny day.

Turtle Neck Tank Top via Shein, White Straight-cut Tousers via Pinterest, Pencil Heels via Zara, and Sleek Belt via Pinterest

How to Dress for College Parties: Outfit Ideas

Parties are undoubtedly the best part of college life. One thing about college parties is that they are super lit, and rocking. But party is not the only thing that should be rocking. Obviously your outfit should be, too! And when we talk about how to dress for college, I don’t think that only your routine college days are important, even your special days like parties are, and they too require a special outfit.

Also check out: 5 Ways to Wear a Little Black Dress: Casual, Party, College & More

college party dress outfit ideas

1. Thigh high slit skirt+ crop top

A thigh high slit skirt is trendy as well as perfect for a party. Pair it with a crop top, and put on your favorite pair of pumps. I have chosen a printed skirt, and a plain crop but you can even do it vice-a-versa. There’s nothing more bold and fashionable than print over print, and if you can carry it then there is nothing more party-like wild and stylish, than a printed crop top over a printed thigh high skirt. Put on lots of highlighter, and a bright colored lipstick to rock your outfit.

Hair-do: Curl your hair and keep them flowing.

Leopard Print Skirt via Shein, Off-shoulder Top via Pinterest, and Gucci Belt via Pinterest.

2. A-line side slit midi skirt+ satin shirt

Pair an A-line mid length side slit skirt with a satin shirt for a sophisticated yet classy outfit. And complete the look with a choker, and a big-sized finger ring. I suggest, put on lots of highlighter but keep your lips nude because a rather bold lip color would out-do the elegance of the outfit.

This outfit is perfect for your on-campus parties, as it is decent yet chic. But if you are looking for an unofficial college party outfit, you can simply replace the silk shirt with a bandeau top. This is my favorite outfit among all other outfits on our this list of how to dress for college, as it is party-like, chic and classy. This particular styling makes one look elegant plus there can be a numerous variations of this outfit.

Hair do: Straighten them, or go for the wet hair look.

For how to dress for college party outfit ideas a satin shirt via Pinterest, pencil heels via Shein, and side strapped hem skirt via Shein

Be You!

So, these were some outfit ideas for dressing up for college. I say there is no drill that you need to follow every morning. Wear whatever makes you feel beautiful, and confident. And on some days when you don’t feel like dressing up, rock your day in pajamas girl. Hope you liked guide on how to dress for college. If any of our looks inspired your college outfits do show it to us by tagging us on Instagram @shilpaahujadotcom.

Read Next:

How to Be the Most Stylish Girl in Your College
Plus Size College Fashion: 6 Outfit Ideas to Love and Embrace Your Curves!
College Outfit Ideas: 5 Fashion Forward Rule-Breaking Outfits!

Leave a Comment