How To... Establish your university wardrobe

Lily Martin
Lily Martin

11 September 2020 • 5 min read

Anyone who knows me well is more than aware of my affinity to clothes. Growing up, my parents repeatedly told me that there was no thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. This mantra manifested itself in a broad and totally unnecessarily large collection of clothes. Come rain or shine, I have the shoe, coat, dress or bag for it. Moving to university however, especially when you’re travelling internationally, doesn’t leave much room for transporting an entire wardrobe’s worth of clothes and accessories. So, in an attempt to work out what really matters when packing - I packed my biggest suitcase (and the only one I could reasonably transport across the globe if I was moving internationally), and attempted to live out of it in the ever unpredictable British climate. Here are some lessons I learnt.

"Comfort is key, don't underestimate how much of that you need"

It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again. Your number one priority is to pack to be comfortable. Not once did I wear those beautiful pink heeled boots that I bought in a sale about three years ago and have only worn once since. Not even to do the washing up. When I did actually stray from my usual routine of work and curling up on the sofa, I wore trainers. Nice trainers, but trainers nonetheless. The same goes for those tracksuit bottoms I ‘borrowed’ from my boyfriend two months ago. In my head, I’d be wearing full coordinating outfits every day. In reality, I live and work better when I’m comfy. Pack those oversized jumpers you adore, those fluffy pyjamas and cute slippers. Come winter, you’ll be pleased you have them.

"Stick to your staples, they'll provide the foundation of your look"

There’s some key things that you know you’ll probably wear a lot. A few classic t-shirts in different colours, that pair of jeans you feel best in and your comfiest pair of shoes. Once you’ve found your staples, the things you wear the most often, you can build the rest of your wardrobe around them. Remember to assess the climate of your new country too. It’s better to pack layers than one big duffle coat - it means that you’ll be more adaptable to the weather and climate. Bring one pair of evening shoes that will go with several other outfits. Remember - university fashion isn’t as glamorous as you probably think. Most of the time you’ll be rolling out of bed and straight into class.

"Try not to get stuck in fast fashion, timeless classics are a better choice"

On a student budget, it’s easy to get caught in fast-fashion trends, especially if you’re packing light. Avoid it when you’ve moved if at all possible. Fast-fashion is bad for the environment and also can promote poor quality of clothes. Instead, consider saving up and investing in some timeless classics. Buying vintage clothes and high-quality items will not only ensure that your money will be well spent, but also the clothes you buy will be longer-lasting - as long as you take care of them that is! Most university towns and cities have a wealth of independent vintage clothing stores to explore which is a lot of fun. And you’re helping the environment too - it’s win-win!

"Don’t abandon glamour entirely, just approach it in a different way"

Just because you’re focusing on your staples doesn’t mean you have to abandon glamour entirely. One way of packing light but ensuring you can dress up an outfit is through accessories. A good belt, that pretty pair of earrings or a smart bag can turn jeans and a t-shirt into a catwalk look when done properly. Best of all - they’re light and easy to pack, taking up very little space. This was my mantra when I was packing to write this. And by the end of the challenge, I’d found myself gravitating to dressing up my favourite pair of ripped jeans for dinner rather than attempting to dress down that black cocktail dress that I’d not had any opportunity to wear yet.

"Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself with your wardrobe"


Most importantly, remember that heading off to university - especially when you’re moving abroad - is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, as well as the world we live in. Don’t be afraid to do something different, to wear something different and to be someone different. This is your chance to be the real you - and to build your character and your experiences. Reflecting ourselves through our clothes is something that we as humans have been doing for thousands of years. Letting your tastes in clothing change as you do is a great way to watch your development as a person as you embark on one of the most exciting adventures you ever have!

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Lily Martin
Written By
Lily Martin

Lily is a Content Writer and Editor based in Manchester, UK. She is passionate about travel, literature and higher education.


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