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7 Clothing Styles to Abandon After High School


You’ve packed all the right supplies for college, down to snacks (you never know when you’ll crave peanut butter) and stain-remover pens (you never know when you’ll get that peanut butter on your shirt). However, there are some things we highly suggest you not pack — specifically, clothing pieces you loved in high school that will not fly in college. Read on to discover what you should exclude. Yay, more closet space!

1. All logo everything

Much of the time in high school, there was no need to ask your friend where she got that cute jacket — its origins were sewn into a little icon on her side, stamped across her chest or written on her back. Sometimes all of the above.

What to wear instead

Coach Kylie Crossbody, $138 at Coach

In college, you’re expected to wear clothes that are subtler (and therefore classier). Instead of a designer bag covered in the signature print, which, unfortunately, can make you seem label-obsessed, opt for a sleek leather option or one with innocuous stripes or a floral pattern.  

“I really don't see people wearing overt logos anymore,” says Sophie Dodd, a senior at Middlebury College. “I think in college it's viewed as tacky. Shows like The Jersey Shore and brands like Ed Hardy kind of went overboard on logos, and now no one wears them!”

In college, everyone has more important things to care about than where you bought your clothes, so flashing your designer brands in everyone’s faces will just distract them from your pretty smile and gorgeous personality. Leave the heavily branded goods behind!

2.Too tight for comfort

In high school, there was one overwhelmingly popular silhouette: clingy. It was simple to master: If a piece of clothing made it a bit hard for us to breathe, we wore it! Body-hugging jacket, corset-like top and circulation-hindering low-rise jeans? Check, check and check. But just like your S.O. doesn’t appreciate clinginess, nor will your fellow collegiettes when it comes to clothes. Not only is a head-to-toe tight ensemble unflattering, but it’s unfashionable as well.

What to wear instead

H&M cream circle skirt, $24.95

For collegiettes, looking stylish is a game of proportions. If you’re wearing cutoffs, pair them with a slightly looser top. If you’re wearing a skater dress, then go ahead girl, whip out that jacket that skims every curve!

“My go-to outfits at school are skinny jeans [and] a slightly oversized sweater, [or] a flowing skirt and a tight crop top,” says Emerson junior Amy Nelson. “Playing with proportions is an easy way to look stylish while still secretly being totally comfortable. It's a great rule of thumb to take with you everywhere through college: to class, on the weekend and at parties!”

Once you find balance, you’ll realize how flattering this outfit formula is, and you’ll never want to go back to the way you dressed before. Plus, it was always annoying how those jeans left imprints in your skin, anyway.

3. Blood-, sweat- and tear-stained gear

Sigh. We too love our oversized T-shirts covered in weird sayings and holes from wear and tear — the ones that litter the family laundry room like admirers around Beyoncé. But where we don’t love to wear them? College. 

You heard it from us first: At school, people dress up, not down, to work out. We’re talking coordinated-headbands-and-socks status. Don’t get us wrong; it’s fun to wear nice exercise apparel! However, it does necessitate leaving your ratty old gym shorts at home.

What to wear instead

C9 by Champion Tank, $14.99 at Target

Bring along clothes that were designed for working out, like sweat-wicking tank tops and running shorts that will make you look like a professional marathoner. The clothes make the collegiette!

4. Wear your pride

Speaking of what you wear shaping your identity, it’s a major fashion faux pas to wear apparel from other colleges. You probably picked up some super-cozy hoodies along your college tours, but you’ll probably have to reserve them for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks!

“Even if your sibling, cousin or parent attended a certain school, that doesn't mean that everyone wants to see you wearing another school's gear,” says Shira Kipnees, a senior at Franklin & Marshall College. “Show pride for your own school, not someone else’s.”

Most campuses take their identities very seriously, so there’s no better way to out yourself as a clueless freshman than by wearing some other school’s stuff.

What to wear instead

VS PINK University of California Berkeley Crewneck Tee, $19.95

If you’re worried about the cost of buying a whole new wardrobe of shirts, sweatshirts and comfy pants, then do a little research. Most university stores have a sale section and also offer discounts during specific times, like at the beginning of the year!

And if you’re not in love with their selection, check out the PINK Collegiate Collection. It features customized apparel for 68 schools, and we find every single hoodie and half-zip adorable!

5. I’m (not) with the band

You may think that One Direction is the only direction and that the Biebs is the best — and we totally support your right to love whomever you want. But we would suggest leaving your logo tees advertising those passions behind in high school, because in college, Justin’s face and name are better reserved for a poster on your dorm wall.

“I would definitely say leave behind graphic tees and band tees, unless you're a total groupie,” says Hannah Joslin, a sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Along similar lines, we’d encourage you not to pack those clichéd quote or symbol shirts. At this point, every man, woman and child in America is familiar with the infinity shirt; you know, the one that has a carefully selected word, like “young” or “love” inscribed in it.

We don’t want you to be just another T-shirt in the crowd — we want you to stand out!

What to wear instead

J.Crew Travel Scarf Collector Tee, $42.50

To satisfy your T-shirt cravings, turn to comfy yet stylish printed versions. There’s a huge variety of choices out there that have nothing to do with bands, not-so-clever jokes, overused quotes and ubiquitous symbols, so find your favorites and enjoy your classiness upgrade.

If you want some more ideas, check out this article about nine shirts with sayings that we’d actually wear.

6. Prom-tastic

We have no doubt that you looked gorgeous on prom night, but it’s better to leave that outfit as a beautiful memory. Why? As lovely as your dress may be, it almost certainly has that “prom” look. When you go out for the night while at college, you don’t want your dress to advertise that not too long ago you were swaying on the dance floor in high school instead of living it up on the college scene.

“The frills and puffs may make you feel like a princess, but a prom-style dress is not the outfit for a queen in college to wear,” says Emily Woods, a sophomore at Union College.

What to wear instead

Nasty Gal Penelope Peplum Bandage Dress, $58

When looking for a going-out wardrobe, keep in mind that every school has a different “dress code” for parties and events. At some schools, bodycon dresses and flirty heels are the norm, while at others, it’s all about sexy tops, skinny jeans and stilettos or ankle booties. Do a little social media research so you won’t bring all the wrong clothes. Scroll through the Facebook pictures of any upperclassmen from your college that you know, or search #yourschoolname on Instagram—usually at least a couple going-out posts will show up! This article has more great tips on what to wear to college events.

7. Bad for business

In high school, all you needed to wear to your mock trial, Model UN or speech and debate competitions was a plain black pencil skirt, a unexciting printed top and some borrowed-from-your-grandmother kitten heels. Since extracurricular activities didn’t warrant grades on your outfit, as long as you were wearing some form of “business casual,” you were golden.

But in college, you’re actually doing real-life professional things, like scoring internships, going to career fairs and networking events and interviewing for jobs. And you will be judged on what you’re wearing.

When you’re packing, try on every piece of professional clothing you own. Anything that’s stained, ill fitting or cheap looking is off the table.

What to wear instead

Striped LOFT Scuba Sheath Dress, $89.50

If this leaves you with gaping holes in your wardrobe, then we highly recommend buying some well-made professional clothing that will last throughout your college career. Trust us, you’ll wear pieces like sheath dresses, button-down blouses and quality blazers again and again! Not sure where to start? Learn more about dressing professionally in the summer heat, the best stores to shop for your internship wardrobe andthe seven professional pieces every girl should own.


Navigating the sartorial transition from high school to college can be a little tricky, but if you follow this guide and dress the part, no one will have any idea that you’re straight out of high school. Good luck, collegiettes!

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