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Outfits Under $100: What to Wear to College Orientation

39 Comments

Students tour Mizzou's campus at summer orientation
(Photo Credit)

You’ve graduated high school and now you’re on to bigger and better things… like college! But before you can move into your new 15 x 15 ft. home, eat ice cream for dinner, or go to a kegger on a school night (not encouraged, but hey, those are perks of a parent-free domain!), you’ve got to get through college orientation.

Most of your time spent at orientation will involve reviewing the details of college life, campus activities, and signing up for classes; the rest of the time is an opportunity to chat up potential new friends and explore your campus. Here are some tips on what to wear, along with inexpensive yet chic outfit options to start college off on a fashionable foot:

Tips on What to Wear for Orientation:

  • Dress comfortably and appropriately! More than likely you will be outside in the heat, walking a lot around campus, sitting on the ground and partaking in physical activities (I once witnessed forced line dancing at a college orientation — shudder!), so consider these things when choosing your outfits. A tight, short skirt might look cute, but it’ll probably be more pain than it’s worth.
  • Consider leaving the collegiate clothes at home. Everyone attending orientation with you will obviously be going to your school, so there’s no need to advertise your admission. Instead, show off your personality and unique style in your outfits.
  • On a similar note, forget your high school t-shirts, too — leave high school in the past!
  • Your college might give you a t-shirt to wear for orientation — in this case, accessories become really important! Show your style with unique jewelry and embellished footwear.
  • If you’ll be meeting with an adviser or faculty member, change into something more professional. This doesn’t mean you have to dress business casual, but perhaps you could swap your Daisy Dukes for clean-cut khaki shorts or switch out your tube top for a nice blouse.
  • If you’re staying overnight in a dorm, pack flip-flops for the shower, a robe for the trek from the bathroom to your room, and cute pajamas — you never know who you might bump into!
  • Stumped? You can’t go wrong with basic shorts, sandals and a cute top! As easy as 1-2-3.
  • Your most important accessory at orientation? A smile! Grin, be friendly, and meet people!

Outfit #1: Meet & Greet

Outfits Under $100: College Orientation, Meet & Greet

Product Info: Romper – dELiAs, Belt – Forever 21, Earrings – Forever 21, Ring – Fred Flare, Sunglasses – Forever 21, Sandals – Urban Outfitters

The bulk of orientation will be group discussion, ice-breaker games, and explanation about campus life. So you’ll want an outfit that makes a good first impression, but is also flexible for different activities, easy to move in, and comfortable in the summer heat. Consider a romper: It combines the adorable look of a sundress with the versatility of shorts.

Outfit #2: Campus Tour

What to wear to your college orientation - a casual and fashionable outfit

Product Info: Shirt – Aerie, Shorts – Alloy, Necklace – Forever 21, Sailor Bracelet – Urban Outfitters, Bangles – Forever 21, Sandals – dELiAs

Whether your orientation includes a formal tour or just some free time to venture out on your own, you’ll want to explore your new campus in comfort and style. A loose-fitting nautical shirt with denim cut-offs and cognac sandals is an on-trend look that’s both comfy and affordable. This outfit — paired with a dainty gold pendant, gold bangles, and a rope bracelet — is summery but could also be easily transitioned for fall.

Outfit #3: Advising Appointment

What to wear to your college orientation advising appointment

Product Info: Dress – ModCloth, Necklace – ModCloth, Shoes – Forever 21, Journal – Barnes&Noble

When you meet with your academic adviser, you don’t need to dress up formally… but it doesn’t hurt to look polished. In most cases, the adviser you begin with freshman year will see you through college — so it’s important to make a good first impression and form a good relationship. Don’t forget to bring your agenda book or journal along to the meeting to take notes and write down important dates!

Outfit #4: Lights Out

College orientation sleepwear pajamas

Product Info: Robe – Aerie, Shirt – Alloy, Boxers – Aerie, Mask – Fred Flare, Flip Flops – Havaianas

Some orientations span multiple days, and thus, colleges offer incoming students the opportunity to spend the night in a dorm room. Think of it as a trial run — you’ll get a taste of dorm-life — and a slumber party: Spending the night in the dorm is another great chance to meet people and hang out with your fellow co-eds. Remember to pack a robe and flip-flops for the shower!

What do you think?

Did you like this post? Are you heading off to college for the first time and attending orientation this summer? What do you plan to wear? Any tips or tricks I forgot to mention? I’d love for you to leave a comment!

Posted on on July 21, 2010 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , ,

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39 Responses to “Outfits Under $100: What to Wear to College Orientation”

  1. 1
    July 21st, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    great suggestions! I always laughed at the girls trying to look hot at orientation – blisters from high heels is never hot.

  2. 2
    July 21st, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I love looks two and three! Very stylish, practical and comfortable! I want all those iems! Great job!

  3. 3
    July 21st, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    ha ha some girls could have used this when i went to orientation…great post!

  4. 4
    July 21st, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for the great advice! Those are some really cute outfits!

  5. 5
    July 21st, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I love these! And I actually wore a similar dress to the one in outfit three when I was being advised, haha.

  6. 6
    July 21st, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I just finished up as an orientation adviser, and while I agree with the tips on making sure your clothes express yourself, don’t go overboard on restricting yourself either! Plenty of people will be wearing the school name t-shirt- you won’t be uncool if you do, you just are missing out on an opportunity to get noticed for your individuality.
    Similarly, it is HOT so please do not forget to bring a fan!
    Ali is 100% right- your best accessory is a smile and positive attitude! Just be yourself and everyone will love you. :)

  7. 7
    July 21st, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I absolutely adore Outfits #2-#4! I don’t like rompers, but I do love the colors and everything else about that outfit too. I think these are very solid tips and choices, but I would definitely recommend sneakers, or at least shoes that are comfier than those (admittedly adorable) sandals. Like Ali and Laura mentioned, it’s HOT and STICKY outside. That’s why I think that it’d be wise to think twice about too many accessories. I would emphasize comfort, definitely. To all the incoming freshman, have fun at orientation and good luck! :)

  8. 8
    July 21st, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    These are great suggestions. One more–bring a large carry-all to tote around. You will probably be receiving all sorts of information to stash in there. You can also use it to carry a camera for taking pictures of the campus and dorms, a notebook to take notes at the information sessions, a light cardigan, and an umbrella. Orientations happen rain or shine… you don’t want to have to walk around soaking wet all day. Also, you will probably be going in and out of buildings, some may have freezing cold air conditioning. The cardi will help with those chilly info sessions and make your outfit more appropriate for meeting with your adviser.

  9. 9
    July 21st, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I love these ideas! I have a 2-day orientation for my new program coming up, so I will definitely keep these thoughts in mind for that! Particularly the 2nd and 3rd outfits!!

  10. 10
    July 21st, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Great ideas! I’ll be going to college shortly so this was a big help.

  11. 11
    July 21st, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    This is a really helpful post – I remember being stumped as to what to wear to orientation. I ended up wearing nice shorts, a basic tank top, and a casual blazer with flat sandals. Not exactly expressive, but I’m sure I wore some jewelry too.

    My biggest suggestion would be to wear something you feel comfortable in … and I don’t mean only physically comfortable, but mentally comfortable. I personally wanted to wear the same items that I’d been wearing all summer, rather than buying anything new, because it helped to ease my nerves when I felt a little uncomfortable.

    You also made a good point about mentioning looking somewhat presentable when you meet with your adviser – I could not believe all the short, tight cut-offs and cleavage baring tanks I saw girls wearing … I doubt the advisors care much (I’m sure it’s to be expected) but it definitely still makes a good impression when you look classy.

  12. 12
    July 21st, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    This is a great post and really wonderful advice for any girl entering college. First impressions are almost always the most important!

    If possible, I have a request of sorts. I was chosen to be a RA and student ambassador this upcoming year and I’m super excited. However, I’m stumped with what I should wear! I still want to dress my age (20) and be comfortable and casual, but at the same time, I want to look put together for when I meet parents and have to work in the admissions office. Help?

    In any case, thank you and I love reading the posts on this site!

  13. 13
    July 21st, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Love it! I’m a few years passed orientation but I love outfits 2 and 3. Definitely considering purchasing those items

  14. 14
    July 21st, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    This article came very late in my opinion since plenty of orientations have started, but it is very useful. I just wish this came out a month early.

  15. 15
    July 21st, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    i never gave much thought to my outfit when i went to my orientation a few years back.

    but my friend just graduated and when she saw your article, she was excited! that’s when she asked me what she should take with her to her orientation. any suggestions?

  16. 16
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    my suggestion is to definitely not wear anything you have to keep adjusting throughout the day.

  17. 17
    July 22nd, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Love outfit 1! Looks perfect for a horribly humid east coast orientation! :)

  18. 18
    July 22nd, 2010 at 12:54 am

    I wish this article had been on time…my orientation was in April! But the outfits are adorable, and totally work for every-day looks. Love it! :)

  19. 19
    July 22nd, 2010 at 4:13 am

    OMG OMG OMG!!

    I have been waiting for this article! and finally it’s here!

    I have about a week orientation lol but definitely gonna use all of this outfits and adjust them to my style :)

    I have a question: I have this cute romper so I’m thinking of wearing it like Outfit#1 but this romper is strapless. Would it look unappropriate to wear strapless romper to orientation? If so, how can I make it more appropriate and not too revealing?

    thanks!

  20. 20
    July 22nd, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Timely article (at least, for me). Though my personal idea of comfort is to blend in with the crowd, love the outfits in this post (;

  21. 21
    July 22nd, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I wish I had seen this post before I left for my orientation! Oh well, I think I did pretty well! :)

  22. 22
    July 22nd, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    @Aarti – For your job as a RA, for what events specifically are stumped about what to wear? If you’re hosting meetings or info sessions with students, just be yourself… but be your best self: Wear your favorite outfit, something that makes you feel confident and chic. When you’re meeting with parents, be sure to look a little more polished and parent-appropriate, but there’s no need to dress up unnecessary. You are a college student after all! Ask your boss in the admissions office what is appropriate attire. Some admissions offices may outlaw jeans or request business casual, so just ask your superior.

    @ELLEN – I think a strapless romper is appropriate, especially if you’ll be wearing it to parts of your orientation that are with other students and more laid-back. It will likely be very hot, so I doubt you’ll be the only girl wearing a strapless top. BUT it all comes down to your comfort level: Can you move well in it, do you feel confident in it, or will you be tugging on it all day? Chose outfits that you’re comfortable in because that leads to confidence and confidence is a girl’s best accessory! (Besides a smile!)

    Thanks for commenting!! I’m so happy you all liked the post.

  23. 23
    July 22nd, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Great post! I’m bummed out, though- I had my orientation last month. I wish I could have read this! I showed up in shorts and a t-shirt, and I looked soooo out of place next to my stylish classmates.

  24. 24
    July 23rd, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Ahhh, I remember orientation 3 years ago, haha. :c

    I love outfits 2, 3, and 4 though – I adore the dress. :D I think it’s important to have fashionable loungewear/pjs in the dorms – since you’ll never know who you’ll meet! I used to wear just ratty old t-shirts and my old pe shorts – and that was one of my regrets. D:

  25. 25
    July 23rd, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Ive been waiting for this post too lol :p I’m sooo excited for frosh week! And I love the romper idea, never would have thought to wear something other than that 1-2-3 look.

  26. 26
    July 23rd, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    As some one who worked for Orientation, these are great ideas!
    Nothing will draw you more (bad) attention than being the girl who is over dressed (you will be regretting those heels in a few hours) or inappropriately dress (no one wants to see your va-jay-jay during an icebreaker).
    Sometimes there are some evening activities, so maybe bring another cute top to change into after sweating all day.
    Most of all have fun and smile!

  27. 27
    July 23rd, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I love outfit number two!

  28. 28
    July 24th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I love this post, it came just in time for my college orientation. But apparently no one else got the memo. All I saw were collegiate wear, high school shirts, and girls in super short shorts. What a shame

  29. 29
    July 25th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I’m a college professor and I see orientation and tour groups all the time around my campus. The vast majority of people participating in them are wearing collegiate t-shirts with shorts, jeans, or short skirts, and flip flops.

  30. 30
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    @ La Historiadora de Moda – It’s true that many students will wear college t-shirts, short skirts, and flip-flops but I’ve never been an advocate for being part of the “vast majority.” It’s far more fun to stand out!

  31. 31
    July 28th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I’m an orientation leader and all these tips are SOOO true! And definitely filled with somethings that I should have known for my own orientation, I wore a dress the second day :/
    Great job covering everything!

  32. 32
    July 28th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I’m an orientation leader and all these tips are SOOO true! And definitely filled with somethings that I should have known for my own orientation, I wore a dress the second day :/
    Great job covering everything!

  33. 33
    July 30th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I wish this post was here when i had my orientation. I love look 2 for the campus tour. Thats just my style and the colors mesh perfectly!

  34. 34
    August 3rd, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I am going to orientation in ten days and this article could not come at any better time for me. Thank you so much fo rtaking the guesswork out of my outfit planning! :D

  35. 35
    June 22nd, 2012 at 5:08 am

    What would you wear to an orientation that is abroad

  36. 36
    September 21st, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Great! I’d say go with the basics but always let your unique personality shine. You don’t feel comfy in wearing something that isn’t ‘you’… It would also be wise to go on a layered look, like a light cotton blazer over a tank top, something you can adjust depending on the weather or the situation. Experiment, mix n’ match but most of all, enjoy!

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