Freshman Year Fashion: A Retrospective

From move-in day to the first frat party, that first visit home to finals week, we take you through an entire freshman year's worth of fashion must-haves.
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So, dear readers, I've managed to finish my freshman year of college and I have to say, it was one of the best experiences I've had in my life. From acclimatizing to residence life to keeping up with academics, I'm already feeling nostalgic for the experiences that have made up this hugely important and transitional time of life.

Just like a yearbook reminds you of all the phases of school you've gone through, I've come up with seven clothing items that represent my freshman experience - note that these items might not necessarily work for the activity mentioned - it's more about the way the look and connotation of the clothing reflects the memories of a freshman year.

Read on and enjoy my sartorial love letter to freshman year!

1) Moving In - Slip-On Sneakers


Orange, Mint, Coral

It's the first day on campus and you need to look cute, but still be moving-day prepared. You're so not doing the white athletic runners thing; you're a student, not a tourist. Flats? Maybe a little too fancy or something? What if people think you're uptight and can't relax?! Maybe... boots? No, not cold enough yet, people are still wearing shorts. Obviously heels are out of the question, so...

Perfect! Slip on a pair of cool, candy-colored sneakers, and your moving day outfit is instantly better. They're bright, cheerful, optimistic, and you hope they project how fun, and laid-back, and non-noisy-after-quiet-hours you are... right?


2) First Frat Party - Leather Shorts

leather shorts

White, Green, Black

You need something fun for your first night out at the frats, and college is the perfect time to try something daring, something a little sexier - and how badass are these (faux) leather shorts!? You arrive and you feel like a rockstar. You and your friends are having a great time, tearing up the dance floor and chatting with cute guys - until about an hour in, your shorts make noises like little frightened mice whenever you move, and start to pinch in all the wrong places.

Oh god, where is the bathroom in this place!? It's like a sauna in here and you're dodging around bleary-eyed would-be Romeos to find a private place to adjust your shorts, and stepping over puddles of who-knows-what to find your friends so you can go home! Suddenly, a pint of Half-Baked and Netflix in bed sounds like heaven. You hear a remix of an oldie pounding through the walls, and apply its words to your life, resolving to remember that going to the frats is just like wearing your leather shorts: meant for a good time, but not a long time.

3) Headed Home - Bold Print Skirts

printed skirts


You've now got a full month of college under your belt, and you're feeling pretty good! The welcome week activities were great, you're making friends, and you're stoked to be in classes you actually care about for a change. It's time to pop home for a quick break, and you can't wait to show off how knowledgeable and sophisticated you are now.

Your younger siblings will be sooo jealous as you swan in, suitcase in hand, wearing something bold, out there and fun - something like a brightly patterned skirt, paired with offbeat accessories oozing just enough collegiate cool. Who cares if your fashion-forward outfit is a little out of place for dinner at Grandma's? You feel great!

4) Homesickness Hits - Bright Maxi Dresses

Maxi dresses

Yellow, Ombre, Coral

You're starting to realize that the first few months of school were deceptively chill. You're yearning for those easier days, for bright sunshine, the muffins your mom used to keep on hand, and your dad's big pancake breakfasts. The laundry's piling up and some girl down the hall won't stop belting out "My Heart Will Go On" at 3 AM.

You think how brutally short your visit home seemed, and how you'll never find as good of friends out here as the ones you have at home. You troll Facebook obsessively, mournfully scrolling through pictures of happier days. You just wish things could be like when you were a kid. 

You, my friend, are in the mid-semester slump, and you reach for something colorful and vibrant in your closet, the only color in your gloomy world. You ease on an airy, bright maxi dress, and it's like you're wearing those happy memories.

5) Dorm Daze - Beaded Skirts

beaded skirts

Black & Silver, Black & Gold, Lavender

Okay, so you may have been being a little melodramatic.

After late-night trips to Denny's, suffering through group projects, and study sessions, you're getting to know your dorm-mates and the people in your classes much better, and you're pleasantly surprised at how much you all have in common. They totally get all the stuff you're going through, from missing home to academic stress. You know now that they can act as your second family - a totally awesome second family that's supportive, and down to share cab fare to the bar (bonus!).

When you're getting ready to go out with your friends, it feels just like a montage from some cheesy, girly movie: there's music blasting, girls with half-straightened hair are running in and out of each other's rooms, borrowing things to add for their outfit.

Everyone has that one show-stopper piece in their closet, and, if you're lucky, one of your new friends might let you borrow something perfect for a night out - like an on-trend beaded skirt that looks luxe and glamorous. It's the perfect look for opening yourself up to new experiences in your new environment. You still miss home a little bit, but you're ready to go out and make the most of your first year!

6) Finals Frenzy - Knit Beanies


Turquoise, Orange, Yellow

Oh no. Ohnoohnoohnoohnoooo. Is all of this actually going to be on the final!? You don't even remember the prof mentioning that in class! Your entire room is drowning in a sea of cue cards, highlighters and loose-leaf as you frantically search for your Econ notes on a desk that looks like a volcano belching out Post-It notes instead of lava.

Someone needs to call in Rick Grimes, because the entire campus looks like a scene from the Walking Dead - everywhere students stagger home, barely registering where they're headed, after pulling all-nighters to cram. The libraries are starting to take on the faint odor of rank BO as people literally camp out there in textbook-walled fortresses.

You haven't slept in like 37 hours, and you're headed to your last final now - you're almost home free and you're so close you can taste it! Unfortunately, you can also practically taste the grease in the air from your dank, unwashed hair - it looks like your normally luscious locks were dipped in a McDonalds vat.

Fortunately, you have a knit beanie to pull over your hair- an easy breezy, beautiful(ish) fix to your desperate situation. Now you're ready to put all that studying to use and ace your final.

7) Moving Out - College Sweatshirt

College sweatshirt

Photo Credit

Look, the boxy shape isn't especially form-flattering, and it doesn't pair beautifully with a chic high-low skirt or that whole cool black-and-white minimalistic look; it's not exactly fashion-forward, but it is important to you.

This sweatshirt lets people know how proud you are - not just of the institution you attend, but of all the ways that your first year has changed you for the better. This snuggly, much-washed, much-worn, kind of sloppy college sweatshirt is just as deserving as a Birkin of a spot in your wardrobe for years to come.

What do you think?

What are your favorite first year memories? What school do you go to? Do you have any other events/wardrobe items you think would work? Let me know your thoughts, questions, and suggestions in the comments below!

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