What to Wear to a College Class

The ultimate guide to what to wear to class in college. Includes arguments in favor of dressing up for class, plus outfit ideas.
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The ultimate guide to what to wear to class in college. Includes arguments in favor of dressing up for class, plus outfit ideas.
College Girl in a Classroom

One thing I get asked probably more than anything else is what you should wear to class in college.

I'm sure you've all seen the facebook groups: "Are You a Model? No Wait, You're an Idiot who Got Dressed Up To Go To Class", and "Are You Homeless? No, You're the idiot who didn't get dressed for class." And if you haven't seen those, yes, they exist.

Obviously, classroom attire is a controversial subject among college students!

So what do you wear to class, what don't you wear, what constitutes "dressing up", and what doesn't?

I have answers to these questions and more as someone who loves fashion but still has to roll out of bed and make it to class on time.

The "Dressing Up For Class" Debate

If you haven't heard about this before, here's the basic argument:

Some people think that because you're in college and no one is telling you what to wear, you should use the opportunity to wear nothing but sweatpants. They also claim that sweatpants are easier to put on and more comfy than regular clothes, and that most college kids are hung over every morning and can't be bothered to change out of their PJ's to make it to class.

From my personal observations, these are usually the people who drag themselves to class and immediately fall asleep, snoring loudly enough that they eventually wake themselves up. They also smell bad, yawn a lot, and generally have no idea what's going on. They think that "just showing up" is good enough.

Here's why their argument is ridiculous:

First of all, sweats aren't any easier to put on than a clean pair of jeans and a cute top. Second of all, if you're too drunk to function, you don't belong in a class and should really just stay home. Third, these people are obviously insecure about how they look, and trying to make those who look good feel bad about it.

I could go on and on about this, but I'll save it. Suffice to say, I don't agree.

Why You Should Get Dressed For Class

Closet full of clothes

Photo by Becka Liu

I'm not saying that we should spend 5 hours getting ready every morning, or that fashion should be more important than anything else. But I do think that looking nice is important, and wearing sweats in public is always a bad idea.

Here are some reasons why you SHOULD get "dressed up" for class, even if that just means jeans and a tee.

Showing respect for your professor

Showing up to class in sweatpants not only makes you look like a slob, but it's also disrespectful to your professor. He/she dresses nicely for class, in order to show that they take their job seriously. When you dress like you're ready to fall asleep, it says that you could not care less about the class. This, of course, is disrespectful to your prof.

Making it easier to focus

I don't know about all of you, but I don't feel very productive when I'm wearing my PJ's. Sweats and pajamas are good for a few things - sleeping, watching TV, and lounging around. When you're dressed a little nicer, you're not going to be tempted to fall back asleep or space out.

Looking good

Okay, this is an obvious reason not to wear sweats. PJ's and sweatpants aren't cute in the real world. I love 'em for wearing around the dorm, to the gym, or even to a final if I've been up all night studying... but never outside of the house for a day of classes.

If you love fashion (and I assume you do if you're reading this site), you should wear your fabulous clothes! Don't settle for boring and shapeless sweatpants. Wear something unique and have fun with fashion. Why bother having amazing clothes if you aren't going to wear them?

What To Wear To Class

Even if you only have a few minutes to get ready, it's not difficult to wear something cute and comfortable to class. Resist the urge to throw on sweats!

Here are some examples of outfits that I would wear to class:

Note: This article was written in 2008, so the outfits are a little outdated. For more of-the-moment looks for class, check out this post, this post, and this post. For STEM majors, see What to Wear to LabAlso see our class to night out section for outfits that transition from class to party.

Outfit #1 - Simple & Chic

College Class Outfit

Product Information: Skinny Jeans - Charlotte Russe, Tank Top - Wet Seal, Cardigan - Wet Seal, Flats - American Eagle, Bag - Target

This is a simple outfit that I would wear a lot in the winter - a pair of skinny jeans, a long tank top, and a cardigan on top. I would finish it off with some cute metallic or brightly-colored ballet flats, a long necklace, and a cute tote bag.

I wear many variations on this outfit in the cooler months, but it's one of my go-to's whenever I'm pressed for time and still want to look nice. So easy and still so chic!

Outfit #2 - Comfortable & A Little Bohemian

Outfit For A College Class

Product Info: Dress & Bracelets - Charlotte Russe, Gladiator Sandals - American Eagle, Sunglasses - Wet Seal, Bag - Karmaloop

This outfit would be great to wear to class when it's warm and sunny out. A dress is so easy to just throw on, and it pretty much makes an entire outfit in itself.

I added a few accessories to this outfit in the form of bangles, gladiator sandals, and sunnies, but you could go without the jewelry and even just wear Havaianas if you wanted! This outfit is all about comfort, so your footwear should be comfortable too.

It's All About The Basics

At the end of the day, if you have most of the wardrobe essentials for college girls, then you're basically good to go when it comes to getting dressed for class.

Most of the time, a cute pair of jeans, a great top, and some accessories are all you need. If you want to wear something more interesting, though, I say go for it! I'm all in favor of showing off the clothes you love & self-expression through fashion.

Have fun with it... and just say "No" to the sweats!

Your Thoughts?

What do you think about the "getting dressed for class" debate? Would you wear sweatpants to class, or would you never even think of it? What would a typical school outfit be for you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!