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Ask CF: What Do I Wear to College Orientation?

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Welcome to the latest edition of Ask CF! Every two weeks, we select a reader fashion question and answer it here on the site. Do you have a specific fashion question for us? Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how to send it our way!

Ask CF


So I’m a huge huge fan of CF, and read it basically every day for inspiration for different events. Coming up in April, I have accepted student orientation for college, and I’m totally lost as far as what to wear. Being in South Carolina, the air should definitely be in the 70′s by then. Do I wear shorts and a flowy top? A dress? Heels? I’m totally lost. What was your accepted student orientation like?

Thanks so much!

Our Response

Now that spring has rolled around, prospective students are on tours and admitted students are being welcomed on almost every college campus. My orientation was mostly just a blur of new faces and random get-to-know-you activities, but I left feeling so excited that I wanted to skip straight past summer and start classes the next day.

This question is right up my alley because I go to school in South Carolina, too! Get ready for some moody weather – some days the mornings are frigid, but it will get up to beach temperatures by the afternoon.

Here are some general guidelines for your accepted student orientation: bring a sweater (it might be warm outside, but the air conditioner is usually cranking indoors), dress comfortably, and be confident. Also, get ready to be bombarded with information!

Below, I’ve assembled three outfits that will hopefully provide you with some inspiration on what to wear to college orientation. Enjoy!

Outfit #1

College orientation outfit
Product Information: WatchShortsKimonoTank TopNecklaceBagShoes

It’s spring, so you might as well incorporate bright colors into your outfit! The energetic pink kimono and bright yellow sneakers will keep you in a positive mood all day, while the sleeveless top and shorts will keep you cool. Accessorize with a practical gold wristwatch and a cute layered necklace.

At orientation, the type of bag you carry will vary depending on the activities for the day. For example, this small cross-body bag is perfect if you’ll be spending the afternoon doing icebreakers, but you may want to carry a bigger tote if you think you’ll gather a bunch of papers.

Outfit #2

What to wear to college orientation
Product Information: JeansTopHeadbandPurseShoes, SunglassesWatch

In the south, there’s always the possibility that the weather won’t be anything like what you were expecting, so I threw in this outfit in case the forecast predicts some cooler temps. Jeans and a loose tank top will be comfortable enough to move around in all day, while the funky headscarf adds a pop of color and attitude to your look.

As you can tell, I’m loving yellow accents right now, and this cute bag is the perfect mix of fashion and function. Add a bit of refinement to the outfit with a watch, slip on a pair of sunnies, and you’re good to go.

Outfit #3

College orientation romper look
Product Information: Romper, Sweater, Necklace, Shoes

Dresses and heels were mentioned in the reader email, and from my experience, I’d stay away from high heels when trekking around campus. I’d shy away from dresses, too – if it’s really windy the day you visit, it would a bit of a hassle to constantly try and prevent your very own Marilyn Monroe moment.

That being said, whoever invented rompers was listening to these grievances and delivered a perfect solution! Rompers are a great way to look feminine and classy without worrying about your skirt flying up. Add a cardigan if you don’t want to show too much skin, then grab a pair of sandals that offer a subtle (yet comfy) boost of height. A statement necklace finishes off this ensemble.

Do you have a pressing fashion question? Ask away!

Is there a piece in your closet that you never know how to style? Do you have an important event coming up? Is there a certain trend that is completely lost on you?

If you have a question you want to see answered in this column, just send it on over via email to askcf @ and one day you might see your question answered right here on the site!

Please note: We get A LOT of email and unfortunately we will not be able to respond to every single question. However, we will read through each question and then decide which ones will be most helpful to the most readers. Thank you for your understanding.

What do you think?

Will you be attending orientation this year? Would you wear any of these outfits? Do you like the outfits I picked out? Do you have any other advice to add? Let us know in the comments!

Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , ,

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3 Chic Ways to Style a Black Suit


How to wear a black suit

There are a few things I wish someone had told me when I started college:

  1. “Don’t get Netflix.”
  2. “You’ll regret eating pizza every day.”
  3. “Buy a black suit. ASAP.”

The first time I needed a suit was in my freshman year, and then again during my sophomore/junior hybrid middle years. Without a doubt, I will need a suit again when I’m a senior.

Since you are way smarter than me and obviously already own 50 black suits, let’s talk about how you can wear them. You bought one, so don’t let it waste away in that mess you call a closet! Here are three ways to style a black suit:

1. The Career Fair

Women's professional outfit

Is that a secret agent? A young CEO? Nope, just a student going to a career fair. This is the standard formal wear: a basic neutral blouse, a black blazer and pants, and black pumps or flats.

This outfit is modest, non-offensive, and says “I-let-my-resumé-speak-for-me.”

2. Business Casual

Business casual outfit

Dear girl at an event earlier this week, 

Business casual does not mean running shorts and a sorority pocket t-shirt.


The Business Casual Fairy

Here, I wore my black suit pants with gold zippers, along with this burgundy blouse with a bow, and comfy black ballet flats. Unlike formal/interview business wear, business casual lets your personality show.

Adding color, accessories, and comfy shoes is perfectly acceptable, as long as the overall look is clean, crisp, and modest.

3. Who Says You Can’t Look Smart Every Day?

Casual black blazer outfit

Blazers can make everyday outfits look smarter and more put-together. I am totally smitten with blazers that have roll-up sleeves and elbow patches (anyone know where to find an inexpensive one?).

The rest of my outfit is casual and comfortable. I have on dark skinny jeans and the soft gray peplum top from my March Favorites article. Since this outfit was begging for some color to match the beautiful flowers outside, I added flirty floral wedges.

I have major respect for people who can pull off blazers in class and make them look young and flattering. Suits don’t have to be stuffy, and I think this outfit proves it!

Your turn!

Do you own a black suit? What’s your go-to business casual outfit? Which of these looks is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below how you style your black suit.

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25 Spring Dresses Under $50

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Spring dresses under $50
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Spring is definitely in the air, and in honor of the return of warmer weather, we decided to round-up some cute springtime dresses. Whether you prefer florals or brights, we’ve found 25 dresses that fit every style.

Also, we know you don’t have a ton of extra cash to spare, so each of these frocks rings in at less than $50. Scroll on down to see all of the dresses:


Floral prints are a perpetual springtime favorite, so if you don’t have a flower-adorned frock in your wardrobe yet, get on it! Demure florals and daisy prints are really big this season, but any of the dresses below are ideal for spring weather.

Floral dresses under $50
(L to R): Forever 21, Daily Look, Nordstrom, Boohoo, Forever 21

Little White Dresses

A little white dress is a literal blank canvas - just switch up the accessories to create a multitude of different looks. To make your LWD truly stand out, look for unique silhouettes and standout details, like the ones pictured here.

Little white dresses under $50
(L to R): Nasty Gal, Windsor, Pacsun, Forever 21, Forever 21


There’s something so fun about rocking a brightly-colored frock, and the dresses pictured below will definitely get you noticed! Try wearing a bright dress with accessories in a contrasting hue for a color-blocked look or pair with neutrals for something a little more toned-down.

Bright dresses under $50
(L to R): Charlotte Russe, ZooShoo, Express, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters


Just like floral prints, pastels are always popular come spring. Whether you opt for baby blue or peach, a pastel dress is a stylish choice for a springtime wedding, a nice brunch, or a graduation party.

Pastel dresses under $50
(L to R): Kohl’s, ModCloth, Daily Look, ModCloth, ASOS

Maxi Dresses

Many girls seem to shy away from maxi dresses, but they really are perfect for spring. Not only are maxis ridiculously comfortable, but all you need to do is throw on a pair of sandals to create a fashionable warm weather ensemble. The budget-conscious dresses below would look just as fab poolside as they would for a nice dinner out.

Maxi dresses under $50
(L to R): Nordstrom, JCPenney, ASOS, Pacsun, Forever 21

Your thoughts?

What do you think of these dresses? Which one is your favorite? What’s on your spring shopping list? As always, leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts!

Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , ,

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From Classroom to Catwalk: Penny Pincher Fashion’s Kimberly Smith


Penny pincher fashion 1
Photos Courtesy of Kimberly Smith

Ever since CF blogger Katarina listed Penny Pincher Fashion as a must-follow blog, I knew I had to interview Kimberly Smith. As a college student, I’m always looking for a pieces that only look expensive, and Kimberly’s queen at putting together pieces that won’t break the bank.

This week, Kimberly shares her tips for attracting readers to your blog via Pinterest, how her move to New York changed her sense of style, and her tricks for creating – and keeping – a budget you can stick to! 

The Interview:

College Fashion: Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Kimberly Smith: I’ve been married to my husband for 14 years (we’re high school sweethearts). I have two kids – my daughter is 10 and my son is 6. We live in upstate NY in a quaint village along the Erie Canal.

CF: How would you define your style? 

KS: My style is classic and feminine, but I try to put a modern twist on my looks.  I want to be current with trends, while still remaining true to my own personal aesthetic.

CF: How did you find your style?

KS: It’s been an interesting journey, shaped mostly by where I have lived. I was born and raised in Oregon, so my look started as very casual/relaxed. Then my husband got a job offer in North Carolina, and we moved to Charlotte where I really shifted to a more preppy/polished look – I think a lot of this was “trying to fit in” with all the Southern Belles and make new friends. When we came to New York, I finally felt the freedom to dress how I wanted to, and I was able to really determine what I love.

CF: What inspired you to start a style blog? What motivates you?

KS: My friends and family encouraged me to start my blog – they were always asking me for advice on fashion and beauty. Also, after having gone through a long period of unemployment (my husband lost his job during layoffs at Rubbermaid), I had learned so much about how to save money when buying clothes and how to find the best deals. I wanted to share that with other women.

What motivates me the most is being able to help and connect with others. My site will never become just a personal style blog, because at its core, it isn’t about me. It’s about educating, encouraging and inspiring other women to find great fashion for less, make the most of what they already own, and look and feel their best.

Penny Pincher Fashion 2
Photos Courtesy of Kimberly Smith

CF: Did you go to college? If so, where did you go to school and what did you study? What was your college experience like? 

KS: I attended Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and my major was English. Because it is a very small private school, it wasn’t your typical college experience. But I definitely learned a lot about myself during that time and it served as a springboard to help me determine what I wanted my career to be.

CF: Where do you like to shop? 

KS: I love Gap, Joe Fresh and Old Navy for basics. Forever 21, ASOS, Zara and H&M for more trendy pieces.

CF: What advice do you have for being stylish on a college budget? 

KS: Play around in your closet – you never know what cute combinations you can create with items you already own unless you try! Some of my best looks have some from putting pieces together in an unexpected way. When you are looking to buy something, shop smart – set a budget for yourself and stick to a specific “wish list” so you don’t get derailed by impulse purchases. Even if something is a great deal, it won’t be worth your money if you never wear it.

CF: What are your favorite pieces in your wardrobe? 

KS: My black blazer, Breton-striped shirt, boyfriend jeans, flat oxfords, cargo vest, lace-up heels and white button down – all so versatile and comfortable!

Penny pincher fashion 3
Photos Courtesy of Kimberly Smith

CF: Who/what inspires you most?

KS: I find inspiration everywhere – I still subscribe to several fashion magazines, and although some would argue that print is a dying art, I will never tire of it. I also read a lot of blogs and spend at least an hour each day on Pinterest – there’s something appealing about being able to see fashion on REAL women – I think that’s part of the reason that blogging has become such a huge industry.

CF: Any advice for new bloggers or college students starting a blog? 

KS: First, have a clear vision of what you want your blog to be about and stick to it – make sure that it is authentic and in keeping with your lifestyle. I’ve received so many offers over the years from higher-end brands that were very tempting, but at the end of the day, that isn’t me – I would never spend $1000 on a handbag or $200 on jeans.

Once you start thinking about your blog as a brand, you can make the hard decisions to say no to opportunities that aren’t a good fit – even though it’s difficult to turn down a great-paying collaboration, it’s in your best interest to stay true to your brand. Readers will respect you more and it send a consistent message about who you are.

Second, only do it if you love it – not everyone in this arena is successful enough to earn a living by blogging.  There are no guarantees, there are rude comments and it is sometimes a thankless job – make sure that you are truly passionate about it and will be happy regardless of the outcome.

CF: What’s writing a blog really like? Could you describe a typical day? 

KS: My day begins around 6:30 – I start with returning emails and reading the other blogs I follow. Then I update my Sales Alerts page and schedule my tweets and pins for the day. Because my site is all about finding great fashion for less, I try to carve out some time to look at the new arrivals each day at Forever 21, ASOS, H&M, etc., and pin them to my Affordable Finds board on Pinterest. After doing this for 3 years, I’ve learned that the really great budget-friendly styles (that look expensive) sell out quickly – so it’s important to be the first to share them with people.

The rest of my day is spent building my editorial calendar, creating content for posts and going on photo shoots with my husband (weather-permitting). I just recently hired an intern who is a senior at RIT, and she has been a huge help in doing research for various upcoming projects. I won’t lie, there are some long hours and working on weekends… particularly if my kids get sick, if my husband is traveling or I fall behind on my schedule. And because I work from home, it can be difficult to end my day at 5:00, especially when there are still tasks to be done. But like any job, it’s important to keep a work/life balance for your own sanity – sometimes stepping away or taking a break for an afternoon is just what I need to get inspired and re-focused.

Your Thoughts?

Does Kimberly’s story inspire you? What are your tricks for looking stylish on a college budget? Who should I interview next? Let me know in the comments section!

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