What to Wear to a College Class

The ultimate guide to what to wear in college.

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What to wear in college - guide to what to wear to a college class
Backpack: Urban Outfitters

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

So what do you wear to class, what don’t you wear, what constitutes “dressing up” and what doesn’t?

We have answers to these questions and more, as college students who love fashion but still have to roll out of bed and make it to class on time.

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The “Dressing Up For Class” Debate

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

college girl with backpack carrying books

Some people think that because you’re in college and no one is telling you what to wear, you should use the opportunity to dress sloppy and not care about what you wear.

They claim that baggy pajamas are easier to put on and more comfy than regular clothes. They will ask questions like: “Most college students are hungover every morning, so why should we bother to change out of our PJ’s to make it to class?”

From our 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 generally have no idea what’s going on and believe that “just showing up” is good enough.

Here’s why their argument is ridiculous:

First of all, pajamas that really shouldn’t be worn in public aren’t any easier to put on than a clean pair of jeans and a cute top – or even athleisure joggers and a cropped hoodie.

Second of all, if you’re too hungover to function, you don’t belong in class and should really just stay home.

Third, these people are obviously insecure about how they look, and trying to make those who put effort into looking good feel bad about it.

Why You Should Get Dressed For Class

college girl looking through her closet

We’re not saying that you should spend 5 hours getting ready every morning or that fashion should be more important than anything else. But we do think that looking nice is important.

Here are some reasons why you SHOULD get “dressed up” for class – even if that just means jeans and a tee or some cute joggers and a fashion sneaker.

Showing respect for your professor

Showing up to class in your pajamas not only makes you look like you don’t care, but it’s also disrespectful to your professor. They dress nicely for class 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. This is disrespectful to your prof.

Making it easier to focus

We don’t know about all of you, but we don’t feel very productive when we’re wearing PJ’s. 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 during lecture. (We talked more about how well this works in our realistic college outfits blog post.)

Looking good

Okay, this is an obvious reason not to wear the clothes you slept in. PJ’s aren’t always the cutest. We love our oversized sorority graphic tees and sweat shorts for wearing around the dorm, to the gym, or even to a final if we’ve been up all night studying… but never for a day of classes.

If you love fashion, you should wear your fabulous clothes! 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. Below, we’ve created some super cute and comfy options.

Here are some examples of outfits to wear to class:

Note: Check out this post and this post for more tips on what to wear in college. For STEM majors, see What to Wear to Lab

Outfit #1 – Comfy & Cozy Outfit

What to wear in college: Comfy & cozy outfit for class with accessories | Gray joggers, comfy socks, cropped tank, chunky dad sneakers, scrunchie

Products: Top, Pants, Sneakers, Socks, Scrunchie

This outfit is perfect if you are looking for something comfy to wear to class while also making sure that you look super cute!

Joggers have become a very trendy fashion item recently, and they are ideal for wearing to class because they’re the comfiest pants you own while still looking stylish. And let’s be honest, in 2023, it’s all about comfort first.

Just grab some classic grey joggers and pair them with any colorful shirt or accessories you have on hand. This cute purple tank top and velvet scrunchie are ideal ways to add some color to your look.

Related reading: Jogger Pants Outfits: How to Style Jogger Pants for Any Occasion

Outfit #2 – Girly Skirt Outfit

What to wear to a college class: Girly skirt outfit with accessories including plaid skirt, button-front cardigan, air force 1s

Products: Top, Skirt, Cardigan, Sneakers, Hair Clips, Necklace

If you are looking for a more girly outfit to wear to class, this look is for you!

This outfit pairs a cute high-waisted blue skirt and white crop top with a matching cami. This tennis skirt look is very popular — we’re seeing ’90s throwbacks all over campus right now in a little nod to films like Clueless.

However, unlike Cher in Clueless, we’re pairing our outfit with classic Nike Air Force 1s instead of heels. They’re our favorite fashion sneaker right now — they’re all over every fashion Instagram account but they’re also insanely comfortable and can be paired with absolutely everything.

Also, you can spice up the look by adding fun accessories that are trendy as well as girly, such as a butterfly necklace and hair clips. I love these white ones to match the outfit.

Outfit #3 – Pink Sporty Outfit

Pink sporty outfit with accessories for college classes -- white leggings, pink crop top, sneakers, zip hoodie

Products: Tank, Leggings, Sneakers, Jacket, Headband

Being on campus all day or having to go to multiple classes, can make it seem like you are already getting a workout with all the walking you have to do.

So why not rock a sporty outfit for class? Often times, athletic outfits may not seem the most fashionable, but you can add color to your outfit to win some extra fashion girl points.

This outfit combines a cute pink tank top with white leggings and a matching athletic jacket. It is also paired with a wrap-around headband, which is a trendy hair accessory. We finished the look with matching sneakers to make your athletic outfit look cute for class.

RELATED READING: Cute College Outfits: 10 Looks to Get You Back-to-School Ready

What to Wear in College? 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 with a great top or a little athletic look and some accessories are all you need. If you want to wear something more interesting, though, we say go for it! We’re all in favor of showing off the clothes you love and self-expression through fashion.

Have fun with it . . . and just say “no” to pajamas!

What do you think of our guide to what to wear in college?

What do you think about the “getting dressed for class” debate? Would you wear pajamas to class, or would you never even think of it? What would a typical college outfit be for you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2008; it was completely updated and revamped in 2023 with new photos, outfit sets, and information.

81 thoughts on “What to Wear to a College Class”

  1. Thank you for reminding me that dressing nicely for my classes is a way of showing respect for my professor. One of our classmates had attended our first class in pajamas and although our teacher had let him in, it definitely did not leave a good impression. I think I have to invest in a lot of tactical polos that I can wear comfortably to school.



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