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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Starting college is exciting, and over the summer, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about how your dorm will look, who your roommate will be, and what your classes will be like. We can’t emphasize enough that there is so much to look forward to, and that you have a right to be excited—and maybe a little nervous too. This will be the first time you’re away from home and on your own, and you get to start making choices for yourself.

One of those choices is what outfit to wear on your first day of college! While it may not be as important as the decision whether or not to take that 8am class, it still requires some planning ahead of time. After all, this is your chance to make a great first impression! They say that when you look good, you feel good, and wearing the right outfit can definitely make an impact on your confidence level.

So let’s review some of the best wardrobe selections for you to wear on your first day of college. In this article we’re going to cover:

  • Essential tips for dressing in college
  • First day of college outfit ideas for women
  • First day of college outfit ideas for men 

Quick tips for first day of college outfits

Follow this guide and dressing for your college years should be a breeze

clothes in a college closet
Picking up the collegiate style will be a piece of cake when you follow these tips.

As you may already know, dressing for college is a little different than dressing for high school. College is much more relaxed and casual, and you’re likely to see many students rock the pajama pants or sweatpants look all over campus. This isn’t to say that college students all look like they’ve rolled out of bed (well, some might actually have!) but you’ll notice once you’ve spent some time on campus that the vibe is comfortable but stylish. 

Also, having lots of outfits just isn’t practical when you’re living in a small dorm room that you share with roommates, there simply isn’t the space to store them. And finally, clothes and accessories can be expensive, and college students don’t exactly have a lot of cash. This is why students choose to wear outfits that can easily be repeated or paired with other articles. In order to make choosing your first day of college outfits easier, we’ve put together a list of essential tips to keep in mind.

  • Keep the shoes comfortable. There are all kinds of cute shoes that you may be thinking you want to pair with your first day outfit like strappy sandals, heels, or even just some basic flip flops. However, we encourage you to consider how your feet will feel after a day walking in these shoes. You’re going to be walking a lot on your first day, and for the rest of your time in college, so make sure your shoes are up to par. Comfortable shoes are easy to find, you can opt to go for sandals with more support, platform flip flops, or sneakers. Your backpack will always be with you. Keep in mind that your backpack or satchel that you’ll be using for class will always be with you. How else will you carry all your books and laptop to classes all over campus? Make sure you get it in a color that will coordinate well with your wardrobe. 
  • Go for relaxed. Again, this isn’t fashion week and it’s not a job interview, so make sure you’re not over dressed. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, but you also don’t want an outfit that screams freshman like a school t-shirt and lanyard. Just try to find a happy medium between the two. If you’re unsure of what your style is, don’t be afraid to mix and match until you find one you like. This is college and it is the best time to find out what clothes best express your personality!
  • Pick your outfit the night before. We suggest picking out your outfit the night before, and even trying it on if you want. This is a good rule to follow going forward in your college career, as it will prevent you from falling into the trap of throwing on whatever is clean.

Now that you know the basics of what most college students wear, it’s time to make the decision of what you’ll wear on your first day of class. We’ve compiled a few options for both guys and girls, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Don’t see something you like? Pick out something that makes you feel good when you wear it.

Keep in mind when school starts, it’s likely to still be pretty warm out. Even though when we think of back to school we think of autumn (leggings, boots, sweaters, oh my!), it could very well still be more like summer outside. That’s why these outfits should be fine to carry you through the first day of school, even if it’s still warm out.

Pro tip: Consider storing your clothes that are off season in an under the bed storage truck. These trunks are designed to fit under a lifted bed, keeping the clothes you don’t need right away when you arrive on campus safely stored.

trunk for clothes from OCM
Dorm space is small, so why not maximize your storage with a trunk? You can check out all of OCM’s storage options for dorms here! Image courtesy of OCM

First day of college outfit ideas for women

Consider some of these options when you’re deciding what to wear for the first day of college!

first day of college outfit
You can’t go wrong with a cute crop top and jeans for your first day of college outfit. Image courtesy of Swirlster

Crop top and jeans

One of the most popular trends is the classic crop top and jeans. You can choose any kind of crop top here, maybe one that has a 90s graphic on it, or just a basic white, black, or tan one. Crop tops can also be short sleeved, midi length, or even long sleeve, so depending on the weather where your school is located, you can make the decision accordingly. If you’re worried about the A/C blasting in one of your lecture halls, you can always bring an oversized cardigan or a light jacket along with you. 

As for jeans you have all kinds of styles available! You can go ripped jeans, skinny jeans, mom jeans, straight leg jeans, etc. All colors of jeans work here, so make sure you go with something you won’t have a problem moving around in, as well as sitting in for more than a few hours. 

Floral dress and jacket

You probably remember wearing dresses on your first day of school in the past, so why stop the trend now? Find a comfortable, flowy, floral dress in a color that you love and pair it with a jacket or a sweater. You can choose to go with a shorter dress, midi length, or even a maxi dress. Just keep in mind you don’t want your dress to be so short it’s uncomfortable. There will be plenty of time to bust out the shorter skirts and dresses for parties!

Pairing a feminine dress with a jacket is a great way to combine two stylish articles to create a relaxed and comfortable look. Whether you have a leather jacket you love, a jean jacket, or even a sweater, this always looks good. 

Pro tip: You can style this look with sandals, sneakers, or even boots if you have them.

college woman in first day of class outfit
A cute dress paired with a sleek jacket is sure to make you feel confident on your first day. Image courtesy of Kathleen’s Fashion Fix.

T-shirt and shorts

If it’s really warm when you start school, it’s always a good idea to dress accordingly. Jean shorts and a cute, basic t-shirt are always a stylish choice. When you pack for school, make sure you have at least three or four basic t-shirts, because you can literally pair them with anything throughout the change in seasons. Having a black, white, and a neutral color is a good place to start—and either v-necks or a crew neck will work. Pair your shirt with some ripped or fringed jean shorts and you’re ready to go out the door.

If you want something a little more, you can switch out the basic t-shirt with a cute sleeveless or off the shoulder blouse, or even show off your school spirit with some cute options from the OCM College Fan Shop.

Pro tip: This style looks good with both comfortable sandals and sneakers. 

Monochromatic set

Typically when you think of monochromatic, you think either all black or all white. While these are solid outfit choices, we’d like you to consider thinking outside the box. Why not pair together a neutral color like beige, peach, pink or grey? You can easily pair this type of set (whether it’s a top and pants or a top and shorts) with comfortable sneakers.

Pro tip: Instead of separates, consider going with a cute romper.


If you don’t already have a defined style when it comes to accessories, when you’re heading to class, it’s usually best to remember less is more. Remember, there will be plenty of other opportunities (parties, dances, activities, etc.) where you’ll be able to show off your favorite accessories. Going to class, keep the jewelry to a few pieces, like earrings, rings, and a bracelet. Depending on the weather, scarves and hats also are great functional accessories. 

First day of college outfit ideas for men

Look your best when you head to your first class

stylish college man in class
A timeless jean jacket is always on point. Image courtesy of Civitas Learning

Jeans and a graphic t-shirt, plain t-shirt, or polo shirt

Your first day of college you want to make sure you’re comfortable, but put together. There will be plenty of time to incorporate your sweat suits into your weekly outfit rotation, but not on the first day of college! Pick out your favorite jeans, whether they’re black or traditional blue jeans and pair it with a graphic t-shirt. This is a great chance to show a little of your personality here, so go ahead, wear that Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, or Def Leppard shirt. 

Already counting down the days 'til your school's first college football game? Consider showing some school spirit from the very first day of school with a college logo t-shirt from the OCM Fan Shop. There are lots of designs to choose from, so there's sure to be something that will fit your style.

Alternatively, you could also opt to wear a casual polo with your jeans. If you’re wearing dark jeans, try to keep your polo a lighter color, or better yet, with a pattern. 

Pro tip: It’s super easy to incorporate a flannel shirt with any of these looks. If it’s too warm to wear the flannel, either roll the sleeves up or consider tying it around your waist. This outfit pairs well with your favorite sneakers or sandals.

college man in jeans and a band shirt
The classic: a t-shirt and your favorite jeans. Image courtesy of Outfit Trends.

Joggers and t-shirt

Remember when we said college is casual? We weren’t joking! To be fair, joggers and a t-shirt look a little more put together than sweatpants or pajama pants. Pair your favorite joggers with a plain t-shirt and you’ll not only be comfortable, but you’ll fit right in. This look can be accessorized with sneakers, sunglasses, or a hat—whichever you feel speaks to your personal style. 

Khaki shorts and short sleeve shirt

Sometimes shorts are the best option when it’s hot. You can’t go wrong on the first day of college with a pair of khaki shorts and a short sleeve shirt. You can opt to go with a button up shirt, or a t-shirt for this casual and cool outfit. Shorts go well with sandals or sneakers, whichever you’re more comfortable in.


Every guy has their own style, but feel free to incorporate your favorite accessories with any of these outfits. You don’t have to limit yourself to just wearing a watch either. Feel free to branch out and see how your outfits look with a necklace, bracelet, hat, sunglasses, or a flannel/sweater if the weather calls for it.

We hope you have a better idea of what outfit you want to wear to class for your first day of college. No matter which one you choose, you’re going to look great and feel great too!