Summer holidays are over, and sadly, living in a uniform of sun dresses, cut offs and graphic tees won’t cut it for much longer. It’s time to look smart as you head back to campus. Sure, some of your fellow students will be living in sweatpants — athleisure is totally on-trend. But more and more, college chic requires more than just throwing on your cleanest dirty shirt.
Don’t have time, you say? Not a problem. We’re here to help you get campus-ready in no time – because dressing stylishly isn’t rocket science (unlike your 8:00 am class).
Since there’s only so much that you can fit in a tiny dorm room dresser, we’ve rounded up 6 trends to add to your everyday basics. Freshman or senior, adopting a couple of these trends will get you an A+ in Style.
1. Upgraded Polo Shirts: Get ready to pop your collars, because this 80’s preppy staple is back. While the polo shirt may still be the #1 choice for weekend dads, this classic gets a much-needed fashion upgrade this fall with floral prints, embroideries, and stripes. There are new fits and styles, including drapy dresses, sparking a whole new love affair with this iconic item. Say goodbye to basic stiff cotton collars paired with pleated khakis – designers like Gucci and Prada have added dressier versions of the polo to their collections, as have fun contemporary brands who have introduced versions that are anything but basic.
Our Picks: We love the bold yellow of this sleek and slim fit Prada Pique Polo Shirt ($340) and this Etro Blue Polo Shirt ($380) which features a raised embroidery of the brand’s crest. If standing out is more your style, we love this Gucci Cotton Polo ($680) with bees and stars. For the ladies we love the Burberry Reissued Cotton Polo Shirt ($380) in bright blue and the soft and easy Ganni Dubois Polo Printed Dress ($235) that you can roll right outta bed and into class with.
2. Suit Up: While we do like a comfy sweatsuit, we really love the casual suit sets taking hold this season. With everything from short and mini-skirt versions to classic pant options, there are plenty of ways to suit up on the quad and in the classroom. Even better, that these pieces can do double-duty for internships and job interviews too, making you look like a pro anywhere you go.
Our Picks: We love the tailoring and casual fit on this Isabel Marant Etoile Nerix Jacket ($670) with matching Noah Pant ($365). If you prefer something a little more structured, we like this Thom Browne Tartan Tweed Sack Jacket ($2,700) and matching Front Button Tweed Mini Skirt ($1,100) that is perfect for warmer days. How smart is the Opening Ceremony x Bonne Suits Poor Man’s Suit ($250) that is unisex and available in a variety of colorways, this easy set can be dressed up or dressed down for both formal or informal occasions. The pattern and fabric on the John Varvatos Abstract Jacquard Jacket ($1,698) and matching Pants ($548) make this set look casual enough for everyday wear. We love it paired with some sneakers. The Stella McCartney Bobby Ink Jacket ($1,095) and Pax Pants ($510) can be worn alone or together, making this a versatile basic for your wardrobe.
3. Turtlenecks: Take a cue from the 70’s with this cozy trend, and make the turtleneck part of your luxe sweater weather staples. Not only are they warm, they’re great for layering and guaranteed to keep you comfortable during those late nights at the library. Match one with a plaid miniskirt or with a pair of tweed pants. These tops also look great with a pair of dark denim jeans for maximum rugged appeal.
Our Picks: We love the button details on the Etro Wool and Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater ($1,140). Channel your inner Steve Jobs with the Holzweiler Liam ($120) mock style turtleneck. Stay cozy all winter long with the Acne Boxy Ribbed Sweater ($420). This Burberry Archive Scarf Print Panel Turtleneck Sweater ($970) is giving us great ladylike vintage vibes. Or take the turtleneck trend completely to the next level with this amazing Chanel Jumpsuit ($4,500) from the brand’s Coco Niege Collection. You’ll turn heads in the library for sure.
4. Modern Tweeds: Add an air of heritage chic to your wardrobe this season with a touch of tweed. Whether you decide to stick with a classic blazer or go rogue with a mini dress, you can’t go wrong with this beloved fabric.
Our picks: You will definately be top of the class with this Gucci Check Wool Jacket ($2,890) and these easy Acne Tapered Trousers ($420). Top it all of with this timeless Thom Browne 4 Bar Prince of Wales Chesterfield Overcoat ($3,100). There is nothing quite as iconic as a classic Chanel tweed piece, so look no further than the Chanel Wool Tweed Dress ($5,400), perfect for internships, interviews or for any day you want to look and feel your best. And in case you missed it, tweed isn’t just for day anymore. We adore this Balmain Tweed Striped Mini Dress ($1,795) that is ready for a night out on the town. You deserve it after all that studying, right?
5. Anything but Basic Backpacks: There’s one quintessential purchase that’s of the utmost importance: a good backpack, or carryall, is key to a successful year. You want it to be stylish, but not so stylish that it doesn’t actually do its job.
Our Picks: You cannot go wrong with the classic Prada Fabric Backpack ($1,150). Not only is it durable, but it’s versatile enough to go with almost any outfit, dressy or not. Logos are everywhere this season, and the MCM Small Side Backpack ($750) is an easy way to embrace both trends. Show your sporty side with the Louis Vuitton Apollo Backpack ($3,750) that celebrates the world’s favorite sport. If you just want something basic but chic, we suggest this Opening Ceremony Backpack ($125) as a great gender neutral alternative, as well as this sleek and modern Saint Laurent Mini City Printed Canvas Backpack ($1,450).
6. Oversized Glasses: Whether you actually need a prescription to see your professors, or you’re just looking for a signature accessory that won’t break the bank, a new pair of specs can make your whole wardrobe pop. This season, don’t play it safe – go big and bold with your glasses and sunnies, and you’ll stand out in the crowd.
Our picks: There’s nothing bigger right now than the Gucci Dapper Dan Glasses ($795). If you want something just slightly smaller, we like these Chloe Palma Glasses ($400) and Stella McCartney D Frame Glasses ($345), which feature subtle wire frames. Our other favorite styles include these throwback Barton Perreira Ellington Glasses ($545) and the architectural DiorSoRealO Glasses ($400).
So, now that you know the trends, where can you find them? When you’re at school, chances are you won’t have time to hit the mall, or possibly even be living near any retail stores. So online is probably your best bet. Net-a-Porter is the OG of luxury online shopping, with over a decade of delivering the world’s top-tier labels. Gents, check out Mr. Porter. You can never go wrong with Barneys; if you’re in need of basics, we love Shopbop/Eastdane. The selection is great for mid-priced and basics like denim and loungewear from brands like AG and Sol Los Angeles. Aiming to be a style icon? Turn to Moda Operandi, Mytheresa or Farfetch. For a more indie experience, we love Need Supply, which offers a true boutique experience with many hard to find international brands for both men and women.
Where else can you go for style inspiration? Some of our favorite sites to peruse for ideas are Refinery29 and Man Repeller, Hong Kong-based The Haute Pursuit for minimalist looks and Gal Meets Glam for its Southern Belle style. For the guys, we love the looks from both Isaac Likes and One Dapper Street.
Dressing for class shouldn’t feel like homework – spend just a little time pulling your wardrobe together now, and you can look smart all year.
Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier and a former Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children and loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.