Back to School Basics: Five Things You Need for Freshman Year

Back to School Basics: Five Things You Need for Freshman Year

By Gabi Meyers | Last Updated: Jun 23 2022 | 3 min read

It’s that time of year again! Summer is coming to a close and the old kids are shipping off to college, trashbags of belongings in hand. I still remember (4 years later!) how much stuff I brought that I never used, and how much stuff I had to buy because it totally slipped my mind! So, to keep you guys from making the same mistake I made, I put together a list of things that I found a lot of guys must have overlooked when packing.

Get ready to take notes! Here is my list of back to school basics for Freshman:

1. Wallet

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 11.34.57 PM

L to R: Will Leather Goods, $85The Hundreds, $39Fossil, $40

You’re (hopefully) not going shopping with mom anymore. You’re the grown up, so you should look like one. Get a nice leather wallet with card slots and a cash pocket and ditch whatever rubberband/paperclip/origami mess you were “working” with before.

2. “Going Out” Tees

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 12.41.50 AM

L to R: Gap, $17Ball & Buck, $48; Ralph Lauren, $40

College is probably going to be the most casual time in your life, and I mean that in both casual as a low level of formality and casual as a word that girls have adopted to describe their life (i.e.: “casually drinking my mochacchino #starbucks #truelove”). This may not fly elsewhere, but guys at Penn State clearly had tees for going out versus tees for class versus tees for working out. So how do you distinguish? Going out tees are probably made of a nicer fabric, have a more flattering fit and are generally solid. You keep this shirt clean and unwrinkled and wear it for occasions when you want to look good without trying, like frat parties. The last thing you want is to try and do a keg stand in suit and tie.

3. Lots of Undies

How often do you plan on doing laundry? Once every two weeks? That’s ambitious. I’m pretty sure I have made it 6 weeks without doing laundry because I did everything in my path to avoid doing it. Don’t ever think you’re bringing too much underwear, because you’re probably wrong.

4. Comfy & Casual Shoe for Class

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 12.44.39 AM

L to R: Sperry Topsider, $85; Original Penguin, $120Clarks, $120

99% of the time this will be your regular sneakers, but feel free to mix it up. I almost never choose to wear sneakers (laces, UGH) and instead opt for shoes that just slide on, like flats or loafers. Find your perfect shoe to roll out of bed and stumble to class in. Bonus points if it works with jeans and sweats (which are totally inevitable sometimes (college as a whole being one of those times)).

5. An Actual Coat

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 12.50.12 AM

L to R: Cutter &Buck, $188;Marmot, $140Merc, $254

In high school, you either waited for the bus or drove in, both of which did not require much outside time. A hoodie was a quick fix. Why wear your full winter jacket if you’re only going to be outside for 10 minutes at the absolute most? Plus, it takes up your whole locker.

Well, now that you’re in college, you’ll be trekking through all of the weather because classes never get cancelled and you will miss the bus and you won’t want to show up to your lecture hall in your soaking wet hoodie and frost bitten hair and be the obvious freshman who didn’t get the memo that HEY IT’S SNOWING OUTSIDE AND MAYBE YOU SHOULD WEAR A REAL COAT because you live in the dorms which is basically a cesspool for germs and everyone knows that you catch colds from being cold.


Now that you know the super important items you NEED, you can start packing your life away. Also, you should bring pants (and sweatpants, because this is college, not real life). A few pairs of jeans and a pair of khakis is probably all you need.

Tell Us,

What clothing got your through your freshman year of college? Which pieces made it out alive? Which pieces did you never wear?

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Gabi Meyers went from Team SG's first-ever intern to a trusted fashion editor and stylist. She currently lives in Chicago with a very cute dog.