One Suitcase Only: 10 Back to School Clothing Essentials

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There will never be enough suitcases, storage units or freight planes to get all of your clothes to campus. Sometimes all you have is one suitcase. Check out 10 essential items to cram into that single piece of luggage—they’ll keep you stylin‘ and are versatile enough to get you through the first few months of school without desperate phone calls home or emergency trips to the mall.

1. To Be Destroyed Jeans

Why would anyone pay for pants that are already ripped, frayed or otherwise damaged? Whether it’s skateboarding fails, drunken tumbles or just plain bad luck, honey, those pants will tear themselves. So why not spring for that cheap pair of jeans that will transform into a fashion statement by the end of the semester? (P.S. Denim matches everything…even more denim.)

2. That One Fancy Outfit

Slacks, a button-down and a tie. Or a little black dress. Or any combination of those outfits. The point is, a fancy event—rush party, dinner with a professor, etc.—is bound to sneak up on you and have you panicking over what to wear. You’ll be stylish and way less likely to tear apart your closet looking for a winning outfit at the last minute with a go-to at the ready.

3. All-purpose Athletic Shorts

Are they for working out? Are they pajamas? The world may never know. Athletic shorts are quite possibly the most versatile article of clothing in your college wardrobe, taking you from class to “studying” on the quad to hanging out with your friends. As an added bonus, they give you confidence and make you feel like you can get some serious sh*t done.

4. The “This is What I Like” Shirt

John Green said it best: “Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it…when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’” So show off the stuff you love: video games, bands or your favorite movie. It’s a great way to kick off conversation with your brand new classmates.

5. Floppy Bucket Hat

Never underestimate the power of a hat in the blazing hot sun. Your friends may laugh when you show up sporting your dorky headgear, but they’ll be jealous when that huge ball of fire is beating down on them during a football game and they have nowhere to hide. You, on the other hand, will be laughing from the shade of your majestic lid.

6. Rain Boots

“But they’re lame!” No. Suck it up, and invest in some sturdy, waterproof kicks to get you through the inevitable flood. It doesn’t matter if it rains for a week or four months on your campus—even if your boots only come in handy once, you’ll be thankful for dry feet.

7.  That White Shirt

It’s been in your closet for years. It matches with literally everything, but you don’t wear it that often. That means it’s the perfect shirt to wear when you need to make a mess—and college is definitely a mess sometimes. Blacklight party? Mud volleyball tournament? Impromptu tie dye on the quad? The white shirt is ready to be transformed.

8. Crazy socks

What’s wrong with normal socks? Well, they’re boring. Awesome socks are another great way to show off your personality. With knee high, rainbow-striped flipper slippers,  Star Wars calf socks and countless others available, there’s a perfect pair of zany socks out there for everyone. You can wear them for parties, soccer games or even just because you feel like it. You do you, and let your socks shine.

9. Beanie

Literally the best thing ever. Bedhead? Beanie. Wanna look artsy and cute? Beanie. Zero degrees outside? Beanie. This stretchy little hat is the solution to all your problems—and if you get one (or, you know, 12) in a basic color it’ll match all of your outfits.

10. Spaghetti Strap Sports Bra

You can run in it. You can sleep in it. You can wear it under a huge bro tank without feeling self conscious of the fact that everyone can see your side boob. There is nothing that a cute, neon sports bra can’t do. When your supply of bras is running low, a sports bra makes a comfy alternative—and it’s not like anyone can tell what’s under your shirt.

A Floridian learning to survive in the tundra that is the Midwest. Sophomore English major at the University of Notre Dame. Goal in life is to be a cross between Jane Goodall and Walt Disney.

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