Back To College Outfits | How To Dress For The First Day Of College
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Back To College Outfits | How To Dress For The First Day Of College

clock-circular-outlinePosted 12 Jun 2024

As the beginning of the semester approaches, there may be one question rattling around your brain… what do you wear for the first day of college?

In high school, it may be acceptable to rock up in pajama pants, but if you’re starting your first semester at college, you’ll want to upgrade your ‘fits with elevated back-to-college clothes that make you feel comfortable, confident - and most importantly, unapologetically yourself.

Starting college is an exciting and momentous event, but boy is there a lot to process. Not only is this probably your first time moving away from home and being in a totally new environment, but you’ll also be meeting many new people, and taking in a lot of information, so we can understand why you might feel a little overwhelmed.

Although it won’t eliminate those first-day nerves, prepping your school outfit ahead of time can make enrolment day a little smoother and give you one less thing to think (and stress) about.

Comfy clothing is on the agenda for your first day at college; so it’s time to slip into your favorite sweatpants, leggings, and cargo pants. Don’t forget your hoodies and trusty basics; athleisure wear is the talk of campus right now…

So let’s talk you through the ultimate college outfit checklist with our go-to guide on what to wear to class and your upcoming college social events.


Is There A Dress Code At College?

There’s no official dress code when it comes to college. But there is one general rule of thumb, and that’s to keep things casual: think jeans, leggings, sweatpants, jersey shirts, oversized tees, crop tops, hoodies, and flannel shirts for your casual college outfits.

Athleisure wear is extremely popular on campus - long days in class call for cute comfy clothing that doesn’t compromise on style. College fashion may generally be quite casual, but that's not to say you can't dress to impress on your first day at college, first impressions last after all! Ultimately though, it’s up to you, dress in what you think looks good and feels good.

Most schools don’t have a uniform, but if yours does, here’s where you can find inspo on how to style athleisure wear during your downtime!

What To Wear To Class

Model Wears Phys Ed Hoodie
Model Wears Premium Legacy Set

When deciding what to wear to class, consider these three things: comfort, weather, and your studies. But of course, that’s not everything, if you're reading this article, then fashion and dressing well are most likely a priority for you. Trendy college outfits can be simple and easy to style without breaking the bank, especially with staple pieces that can see you through the seasons. It all begins with having a solid collection of interchangeable basics and quality athleisure wear pieces that you can wear to class and feel comfortable in (without looking scruffy).

When it comes to casual everyday college outfits, black leggings and grey sweatpants never fail, but it’s all about choosing the right silhouette... there’s a fine line between stylish loungewear and never-leaves-the-house type loungewear. Even wearing sweatpants, you still want to look put together, so if you opt for an oversized pair, stick with your usual size so they fit your proportions right but still achieve that baggy look.

When choosing leggings for college, you’re not necessarily looking for high compression around the waist and performance-enhancing features. It’s best to choose a solid black pair of black leggings with plenty of stretch and a simple design, that way you’ll find all-day comfort and style them in multiple ways all semester long.

So with those few tips here’s your packing checklist of essential college clothing items you can get here at Gymshark.

Socks... you'll lose them more than you'll wear them. Shop our huge collection of socks so you're prepped with enough odd pairs for the semester!

What To Consider When Choosing Your College Outfits

Dress For Comfort

For the typical college student, comfort is the primary concern, which is why casual college fashion is so popular; sweatpants, leggings, and jeans are all items you’ll commonly see worn around your college. Not only will you find a great deal of your day sitting in a classroom, where it’s crucial to feel comfortable so that you can concentrate, but you’ll also be walking between rooms on campus, to the canteen, and even back to your dorms if you have a long break. So choosing functional, wearable back-to-school clothes that don’t cling, make you sweat or cause discomfort is key!

Dress For The Weather

Colleges in Florida and Idaho are situated in two completely different climates, so where your school is situated is going to determine what clothes you should pack. For warm weather, you’ll want to wear lightweight pieces that don’t make you sweat or feel uncomfortable after hours of wear. Opt for natural fabrics like cotton tees, jersey shorts, or baggy cargos to keep you cool. In colder areas, layering is key. The heating may be ramped up in the classroom, but in case it isn’t, make sure you bring a warm sweater to class. There’s nothing worse than trying to focus when you’re freezing! Raincoats are another essential for wetter regions, so make sure you invest in a good waterproof before the start of the semester.

Traveling across states for college? Whether you’re traveling long-haul or short, our travel-outfits article is the place to go for comfy styling inspiration for your journeys.

Dress For Your Studies

Some colleges might have some unofficial dress codes; for instance, if you’re attending an arts college you may find the dress code far more relaxed and expressive than if you’re in school for law, but this is likely something you’ll find out when you get there.

When it comes to study-specific clothing for example, science and medical students may be required to wear lab coats, so what you wear underneath may be less important, or you might opt to wear clothes you don’t mind getting mucky!

For the start of the semester though, it’s best to stick to relatively safe everyday college outfits that are true to your sense of style. If you want to stand out, that’s totally okay, college is a place of expression and finding yourself… just ensure you’re still dressing appropriately for your studies!

For Women:

Everyday College Outfit

Phys Ed Sweatsuit

There’s nothing that screams a cozy back-to-college outfit like a matching sweatsuit, and with our Phys Ed collection, athleisure wear just got an upgrade. Sweatpants might get a bad rep, but there’s nothing remotely sloppy about these cute sweats. The oversized silhouette sits just right, thanks to the premium heavyweight fabric, meaning the proportions are balanced despite the baggier dimensions. You’ll be ticking all marks for style and comfort with this matching set, the perfect casual college outfit.

Cold-Weather College Outfit

Flared Leggings + Cotton T-shirt + Fleece Zip Hoodie

For those dressing for colder-weather locations, this is a cute and comfortable outfit to wear to class and keep warm. We’re all obsessed with flare leggings, that’s a fact… they feel slightly more elevated than a pair of leggings, and are undeniably flattering. Wear our flared numbers as your base then our next suggestion is to pick a fitted cotton t-shirt, we love the look of a fitted top with our flared leggings, so sleek and hugging! Plus the body fit really helps to keep the warmth in, and for a cozy second layer, choose our Fleece Zip Hoodie in a soft brushed fabric to keep you in bed-like comfort all day long.

Warm-Weather College Outfit

Cotton Tank + Loopback Sweat Shorts + Script Cap

This back-to-school outfit is for those of you starting your first day when temperatures are soaring into the near 90’s. It’s relaxed, comfortable, and a little sporty if that’s your thing. Start with our cotton tank, which is a great choice as the midi length and high-ish neckline offer a little more coverage for your first day, but the comfy cotton fabric will still keep you cool. Then pair our Rest Day Sweat Shorts (shop from the men’s section if you want a longer inseam) with a slouchy pair of crew socks, your fav’ chunky sneakers, and our Sharkhead Cap for a stylish yet chilled casual college outfit.


For Men:

Warm-Weather College Outfit

Collegiate T-Shirt + Lifting Mesh Shorts

Summer semesters call for lightweight garms, and we can’t think of anything more suitable for your first day back at school than our Collegiate T-Shirt. Campus-inspired, and super versatile, this tee will look as good on your first day as it will at the gym. With an ultra-oversized fit, you’ll be comfortable, cool, and focused as you listen to all the onboarding information! Pair with our Lifting Mesh Shorts for a sporty touch, and pair with a crisp pair of white socks and sneakers for a fresh outfit that will have you smash your first day!

Cold-Weather College Outfit

Rest Day Essentials Hoodie + Rest Day Track Pants

Your first day at college is going to be exciting, nerve-wracking, tiring, and probably a whole host of more emotions. So why not give yourself a little self-care moment with a comfy sweatsuit like our Rest Day Essentials one, an easy-to-wear tracksuit to make your day more easygoing? Pair the boxy Rest Day Hoodie with our matching straight-leg track pants for a trendy take on the classic cuffed sweatpants. Loose, and ultra-soft, we just can’t get enough. Underneath your hoodie, have an oversized t-shirt peeping out for an effortlessly stylish and comfortable look.

Casual College Outfit

Henley Shirt + Rest Day Essential Cargo Joggers

Here’s a back-to-school outfit that combines preppy and outdoorsy aesthetics for a stylish ensemble that will get you noticed as a fashion icon on campus. Taking it way back to the 80s, our Henley Shirt sports that retro look that is bang on trend right now, with a relaxed henley neckline and a comfy cotton blend that you’ll feel good in all day. The preppy polo looks great with our Rest Day Cargo pants, which are slim-fit yet comfy and will move with you all day… plus you won’t be able to get enough of the pockets!

If baggy cargo pants are more your thing, we’ve got you covered, check our our selection of cargo pants for men.

The Best Bags For College

For your first day at college, you probably want to cover all bases, so we can imagine your bags will be crammed with notebooks, stationery, snacks, and other college essentials. As you settle into your routine, we’re sure your bags will become less full, especially if class is the only thing on your agenda for the day. But if you have practice, plans after class, or you like to carry a spare layer around, you’ll want a spacious bag with separate compartments so you can organize your stuff well. We’ve got a lot of bags on our roster with plenty of room for your college staples, from backpacks so you can go hands-free, to large spacious holdalls. Take a look at our best bags for college…

Swapping bags as you head to your training sessions or gym workouts? Take a look at our guide to the best workout bags and what to pack in your gym bag.


What To Wear To Social Events

When it comes to social events, it’s a whole different ball game. This is where you get to let your hair down, let loose a little bit, and maybe get a little more creative with cute college outfits.

Many social events will be fancy dress, so get your creative cogs turning because you may need to DIY some of your ensembles. These events might not be all that regular, but make sure you pack something a little smarter for formal events like parties and dinners.

As the day turns to night, that’s when socials like campus parties are getting underway, and this is where you might want to put something nicer on, you could opt for dresses, mini skirts, mesh tops, button-downs, cargo shorts, or vest tops depending on the vibe. For sporting events, you’ll fit right in your varsity sweatshirts and hoodies, as the atmosphere is far more relaxed, and it’s time to rep your team.

Shop Our New Collegiate Collection

Shop the collection!


Now you've got the lowdown on what to wear to college, you can shop your 'fits and enjoy a fun-packed Summer before college begins. Need some last-minute inspiration or styling advice? Head to our product & style hub on Central for all the latest fashion tips.

You can shop the latest drops with express delivery on our app for all your college essentials. Get the Gymshark App below.

Lannay Dale-ToozeBy Lannay Dale-Tooze

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