Intentional is not the first word that comes to mind when describing (most) college guys’ wardrobes. Questionably Clean, maybe. Within Arm’s Reach of the Bed this Morning, sure.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! Thinking now about your style will give you a well-clad leg up on your counterparts in your post-grad life. You’ll be pairing patterns like a pro and remixing your wardrobe better than a man twice your age if you start sorting this stuff out now. To help, I asked some of the most stylish guys I know for their wisdom.
Below, their style tips for college guys…and how to learn from their mistakes:
Cash Warren (producer; founder, Pair of Thieves)
My college style was unabashedly terrible but definitely unafraid to experiment with different looks. It took me a long time to find my personal style…and today I’m beyond proud of the boring outfits I sport on a daily basis.
Shop Cash’s style
I say, experiment freely. Don’t be afraid to take chances and push the boundaries a bit. Get comfortable being uncomfortable when you look at yourself in the mirror. It’s only in doing that that you’re truly able to figure out what style best suits you.
“Understand the principles of fit”
Barron Cuadro (menswear blogger, Effortless Gent)
I dressed better than the typical student in college because I wore shirts with actual collars, and I never wore sweatpants or flip flops in public. My main issue was fit. I wore everything entirely too big. It didn’t help that I was overweight, too. I believed that by wearing bigger clothes, I was hiding my size, but that definitely was not the case.
My style has evolved A LOT since then. For one, I dropped 60 lbs, so that helped. I understand the principles of fit much better, and I stick to a pretty simple color palette: lots of neutrals, a few rich, saturated colors during the winter months, and light colors during the summer months.
I’ve also adopted somewhat of a uniform that I wear most days: dark denim, OCBD, loafers, sport coat. I change it up here and there—linen shirts in the summer, chinos instead of denim, boots instead of loafers, M-65 instead of a sport coat—but I keep it pretty simple and stick to this same look, swapping out individual pieces when I get bored of the baseline uniform.
At the end of the day, having a killer look first comes down to understanding what fits well on you.
Men look like grown children when they wear oversized shirts, baggy jeans with extra fabric pooling at the ankles, cheap, bulky, square-toed shoes, etc. So figure out how to nail fit first, and everything else will easily fall into place.
Shop Barron’s style
By the way, your style and clothing preferences won’t be the same in 5 or 10 years… maybe not even in one year. I certainly don’t dress the same as I did in college (thank God); you probably won’t either.
“Be adventurous from time to time”
Jeff Laub (founder, Blind Barber)
My personal style in college was just “trying.” Looking back on it, I honestly don’t think I was ever comfortable in my clothes. You know, it was a time when I was finally away from home and trying to figure out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to feel like which meant a lot of trial and error…mostly error. From overly-faded jeans to cowboy boots and a trucker hat with sweat bands, I was wearing whatever I thought was cool in everyone else’s eyes. Just trying to impress the babes you know?
Since then, my style has definitely evolved (thank god). I now understand that simple, well-fitting staples and a good pair of sneaks is the best way to feel great about yourself and get after the day with no second guessing. I realized that – for me – there’s nothing better than a pair of quality denim that fits your body (sometimes thanks to tailoring) and a simple pocket tee or button up.
Of course there are days when I am feeling a li’l wild and want to get loose, so I’ll throw on something that’s a bit out there, but the difference this time around is that I am doing it with purpose, emphasizing how I already feel about myself rather than trying to rock something to make me believe I am someone (or someone else). That make sense?
To guys in college now, get your uniform and don’t worry about the latest gear. There is too much for us to be doing in a day to be worried about getting dressed.
Shop Jeff’s style
Once you have your staples, make sure they fit your body type. We all don’t come in Small, Medium, Large, etc. Sometimes you have to hem the pants, adjust the sport coat so that it fits you properly. That is how you really make yourself look like a million bucks, the fit (not spending a million bucks on the name of the brand).
And finally, be adventurous from time to time. Yes I know this goes against my first rec, but to think we are going to be the same people, with the same interests, tastes and whatnot for the rest of our lives is crazy, so don’t ever quit exploring new ideas within yourself and your look. Just make sure if it looks super crazy you have that good pair of denim and white pocket tee to fall back on for the next date.
“Everything can be interchangeable”
Mick Batayske (DJ and entrepreneur)
My style was horrible. Jesus sandals in the snow. Oversized jeans. Ugly shirts. Horrible graphic tees. Everything was really, really, bad…as you can see in this pic of me and De La Soul from the late 90’s (I’m the white guy). This was my first public deejay gig.
Shop Mick’s style
Today, guys should have a minimal wardrobe. Grey. Navy. Black. Pops of color with hats and sneakers. Lots of sweats and tailored pants. Button downs and sweaters. Everything can be interchangeable and effortless.
“If you take care of yourself…anything you wear will look at least decent”
Eric Cano (casting director)
In college I went full-on bro in Abercrombie & Fitch, flips flops (gross) and Birkenstocks, shell necklaces, and these New Balance trail running sneakers that all the “cool kids” were wearing. My girlfriend at the time called me Ericrombie. I did, however, begin to start thrifting, which I still do to this day.
By the time I was a junior I had pretty much abandoned the prep look in favor of what was pretty close to “guido.” I remember going to Florence and Rome for spring break and spending all my money on these wrap-around Miu Miu shades and Prada sneakers. I wore my hair spiked up with this stuff called Murray’s Hair Wax that stayed in your hair for a week. I also went through an unfortunate period with a weird British rocker/ shag-do, inspired by Oasis, but I looked more like Austin Powers.
College is a great time to experiment with what you like, and your taste will likely vary from year to year.
Shop Eric’s picks
That being said, I would advise guys to take working out seriously. If you are in great shape and take care of yourself, pretty much anything you wear will look at least decent.
And stay the hell away from square-toe dress shoes!
“There’s plenty of time to dress ‘mature'”
Peter Nguyen (menswear blogger and stylist, The Essential Man)
My style in college was all over the place. I was trying really hard to impress people, so I wore a ton of trends even though they didn’t make sense together. One day you’d find me in all black clothes, another day I’d be wearing a Saved by the Bell graphic tee and thrift store bomber.
Since then I’ve learned to wear things because I like them and not worry about what others might think. I shifted my focus on more timeless staples. Classics. I’ve also learned that you can mix in trends here and there to make it less boring without going overboard.
Shop Peter’s style
My advice to guys in college now is to enjoy your youth. Don’t be afraid to try different styles and trends out! That’s how you find a style that clicks with you. There’s plenty of time to dress “mature.”
WHAT STYLE ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF? (AND WOULD YOU HAVE LISTENED?
We’re headed back to school with ASOS, for a month-long series sharing everything college guys need to know to look and feel great on campus, from a stylish, affordable wardrobe to men’s grooming essentials.