Before I go any further, let me just publicly proclaim that I am not a fashion guru or a stylist. This article is not about giving unwarranted fashion opinions or to tell you what looks good and what doesn’t. It’s merely bits and pieces of practical advice that I’ve learned and amassed over the years. Considering how it’s March and a majority of colleges in Malaysia would have their new intake season, I just thought it’d be a useful piece for those who are fresh out of high school. Of course, you may not feel this way now, but just wait and see, new kid.
1) Forget the heels
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever come across any girl wearing killer heels to college. Excluding presentation days, heels are seriously not a wise option, especially if your campus is huge. This may be something you never thought of, but there is actually a lot of walking around involved. You are going to have to walk from the carpark, to the classroom on the highest floor, to the lecture halls on the ground floor, to the cafeteria on the other end, and back to your car which is probably parked 49453km away. And sometimes, or rather most of the time, you won’t even be able to get on the elevator so it’s hello, seven flights of stairs! You’d understand if you go to Taylor’s Lakeside, sigh.
2) Bring a jacket or a cardigan
This is one advice you wouldn’t want to ignore, people. Some classrooms, and even the library might be cold. And by cold, I mean Antarctic-freezing-cold. So unless you want to listen to your lecturer from the outside, you should bring a jacket or cardigan with you at all times.
3) Handy backpacks are key
To be honest, I don’t even follow this advice myself because I rarely need to carry coursework books so it depends on your major, I guess. Although I have to admit that it’s much easier to dump everything in your backpack than to lug around your laptop in one hand and a tote bag in the other, which may contain more college necessities like notebooks, stationery, water bottle and more.
Actually, that’s pretty much what I have been doing, which is why I recently got myself a black leather backpack. Let me rephrase the term then: cute handy backpacks are key. I know we don’t want all those sekolah menengah school bags, but do remember to shop for a backpack that has a neutral colour like black, grey or brown so it matches with all your outfits. Also, here’s a logical but good tip: don’t ever buy white. It will turn yellow or get dirty after a while considering how we just dump our backpacks everywhere. Trust me, I learned it the hard way.
4) Don’t be afraid to be experimental
Even though the general dress code in most colleges and universities are casual, it doesn’t mean that it has to be jeans, t-shirts or shorts everyday. It’s perfectly acceptable if you want to doll up and put in more effort than most of your friends. Personally, I really like cropped tops, summer dresses, skater skirts, skorts, and rompers, and outerwear like denim jackets, flannels and knitted cardigans as they’re so effortless but can actually amp up your outfit without looking too over the top.
Not to forget, a plain tee with shorts or skinnies can be accessorized with a few necklaces and cute sandals to enhance an otherwise very simple but easy coordinate.
5) Basics are a life saver
A long time ago, when I was still young and naïve, I was in love with colours and prints. I would stock my wardrobe with tops and dresses from every shade and 70% of my clothes have some sort of floral print on it, I’m not even kidding. I used to not like wearing dull colours like black and grey. Technically, I still like colours and prints and still am not a fan of grey. Black is okay but it makes me look skinnier seeing as it has a slimming effect so I don’t really own a lot of black clothes, too.
Anyway, I know better now. While colours and prints are loud and fun, they are also extremely hard to match. They’re suitable for that once in a while party or a day out with friends, but when it comes to college everyday, it does get a bit tiresome thinking how I can wear that dress without being too bold. This is why I’m all about the basics now. I’ve learned that versatile clothes that can be worn with any top or bottom are what make a good shopping investment.
6) Sometimes, a hoodie is all you need
I have a lot of friends who swear by hoodies because, why not? It’s comfy, it’s snuggly, it keeps you warm in aforementioned Antarctic-like classrooms, it protects you from predators, and it can help you sleep more soundly during a boring lecture. Not that I’m encouraging you to sleep during a boring lecture, but you know, just in case. When that time comes, you’ll know which tip to follow.
7) Nobody will judge you if you turn up in pyjamas
Someone once told me this story of how a girl just walked straight out from bed and into a lecture that was her only class of the day. I mean, I’d advise brushing your teeth so you don’t scare people away but other than that, I totally understand. We, college kids, will get you because, sleep > anything else.
8) Other than that, you can pretty much wear whatever you want
Flip flops everyday or pretty dresses, hoodies or nah, it’s completely up to you! College is a playground for you to wear whatever you want to without facing disciplinary action or judgement. Think about it, this is the only time in your life where you don’t have any dress code restrictions. Our school uniform days are over and done with and soon, we’ll step into the working world where I’m pretty sure flip flops and pyjama shorts are strictly frowned upon. So go ahead and dye your hair purple, dress up everyday if you like, or wear something that truly represents you. I usually hate the word #yolo but in this case, #yolo man. You’re only gonna be this age once, so go and be young.
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