For $50 You Can Buy …
Following on my “style for college students" post, I thought I’d suggest some "under $50" options that I think would work well for students. Above is what I sometimes wear on weekends if I have errands to run, but I think it can also work for someone in college. 
Shoes: The canvas shoes are a collaboration project by Billy Reid and K Swiss, and they’re on sale right now at J Crew for $30 (use the code OURTREAT). I think they work well with casual chinos and jeans. If you want other options, LL Bean Signature sometimes discounts their blucher and ranger mocs to about $50, and I think they can be worn with the same things. 
Sweatshirt: The grey sweatshirt above is by Onassis. The fit on their website looks skinnier than how mine wears, but perhaps they had the model size down (or maybe they changed the cut). Either way, it’s a decent, casual sweatshirt, albeit thinner than other models on the market. For other affordable options, check out Uniqlo and J Crew (the second of which offers them in grey and navy). J Crew’s cost over $50, but hardly a thing in their store doesn’t make to their end-of-the-season sales.
White tees: I usually wear my sweatshirt over a Levi’s 1950s pocketed tee, but those don’t seem to be online at the moment (they might have them in-store though). A similar model seems to be the pocketless version. If you wait, those go on sale for about $9. Hanes’ beefy tees are also good, cheap beaters. For more options, look into Alternative Apparel (which I know Jesse likes), American Apparel, Uniqlo, J Crew, and Velva Sheen. 
OCBDs: You also can pair the grey sweatshirt with an oxford cloth button-down, which in turn will give your collarline some more structure. The cheapest ones I know of are at Uniqlo, but Brooks Brothers and Land’s End Canvas will often discount theirs to about $35. Here’s some striped ones from Brooks now for about $40.  
Jeans and chinos: My preferred jeans are 3Sixteen’s SL-100x, which I think are one of the best values on the market right now. They’re expensive, but the fit and quality of the denim and construction are excellent. For something cheaper, check out Uniqlo’s Made in Japan line or Gap’s selvage jeans. For something cheaper still, Levis has a bunch of options, so long as you stay clear of any pre-distressed stuff. The non-raw, non-selvedge stuff won’t age as beautifully, but they’re also much more affordable. Alternatively, you can wear the above with Uniqlo’s vintage chinos, which are on sale right now for $40. Jesse has recommended them in the past. 
Belt: Finally, I bought the belt above for $20 at a local jean shop, but you can buy nicer belts from Voyej, Corter, and Don’t Mourn Organize.
The best thing about everything here is that nothing requires much maintenance. I know most college students don’t have time to iron their clothes, polish their shoes, or do any of the other recommendable things for clothing care. The stuff you see above are all items you can throw on, not pay too much attention to, and not worry if things get stained. These are the kind of clothes that look better beat up than brand new anyway. Pretty much ideal if you sleep in libraries, go to parties where cheap beer is often spilled, and don’t even own an iron. 

For $50 You Can Buy …

Following on my “style for college students" post, I thought I’d suggest some "under $50" options that I think would work well for students. Above is what I sometimes wear on weekends if I have errands to run, but I think it can also work for someone in college. 

  • Shoes: The canvas shoes are a collaboration project by Billy Reid and K Swiss, and they’re on sale right now at J Crew for $30 (use the code OURTREAT). I think they work well with casual chinos and jeans. If you want other options, LL Bean Signature sometimes discounts their blucher and ranger mocs to about $50, and I think they can be worn with the same things. 
  • Sweatshirt: The grey sweatshirt above is by Onassis. The fit on their website looks skinnier than how mine wears, but perhaps they had the model size down (or maybe they changed the cut). Either way, it’s a decent, casual sweatshirt, albeit thinner than other models on the market. For other affordable options, check out Uniqlo and J Crew (the second of which offers them in grey and navy). J Crew’s cost over $50, but hardly a thing in their store doesn’t make to their end-of-the-season sales.
  • White tees: I usually wear my sweatshirt over a Levi’s 1950s pocketed tee, but those don’t seem to be online at the moment (they might have them in-store though). A similar model seems to be the pocketless version. If you wait, those go on sale for about $9. Hanes’ beefy tees are also good, cheap beaters. For more options, look into Alternative Apparel (which I know Jesse likes), American Apparel, Uniqlo, J Crew, and Velva Sheen
  • OCBDs: You also can pair the grey sweatshirt with an oxford cloth button-down, which in turn will give your collarline some more structure. The cheapest ones I know of are at Uniqlo, but Brooks Brothers and Land’s End Canvas will often discount theirs to about $35. Here’s some striped ones from Brooks now for about $40.  
  • Jeans and chinos: My preferred jeans are 3Sixteen’s SL-100x, which I think are one of the best values on the market right now. They’re expensive, but the fit and quality of the denim and construction are excellent. For something cheaper, check out Uniqlo’s Made in Japan line or Gap’s selvage jeans. For something cheaper still, Levis has a bunch of options, so long as you stay clear of any pre-distressed stuff. The non-raw, non-selvedge stuff won’t age as beautifully, but they’re also much more affordable. Alternatively, you can wear the above with Uniqlo’s vintage chinos, which are on sale right now for $40. Jesse has recommended them in the past. 
  • Belt: Finally, I bought the belt above for $20 at a local jean shop, but you can buy nicer belts from VoyejCorter, and Don’t Mourn Organize.

The best thing about everything here is that nothing requires much maintenance. I know most college students don’t have time to iron their clothes, polish their shoes, or do any of the other recommendable things for clothing care. The stuff you see above are all items you can throw on, not pay too much attention to, and not worry if things get stained. These are the kind of clothes that look better beat up than brand new anyway. Pretty much ideal if you sleep in libraries, go to parties where cheap beer is often spilled, and don’t even own an iron. 

Style for College Students
There’s no kind way to put this: college students are some of the worst dressed people in America. I say that as man who has spent the last eleven years on college campuses – four as an undergraduate, two as a researcher, and five as a graduate student. This has been at three universities, but with many visits to other schools throughout the years.
To be sure, students are in a uniquely hard bind. They’re broke, very busy, and have little time for gainful employment. Not having a lot of time or money doesn’t lend itself well to picking up nice things. Plus, as a graduate student instructor, I’d rather see students spend more time on their studies than worry about what they should wear.
Still, dressing well in college isn’t that hard. Especially when the bar is set so low. So, in an effort to help students smarten up, I’ve come up with some tips.
Focus on Smart, Mid-quality Basics
The downside to being a student is that you’re broke, but the upside is that you can have a complete wardrobe with very few pieces. No need to worry about having separate weekend and weekday wardrobes; it’s just off to class and libraries for you. So, focus on buying mid-quality, versatile basics. Don’t go for anything too nice. Whether you’re getting straight-As or barely passing class, your lifestyle in college will be mostly rough on clothes and probably not very hygienic. Get things like decent jeans that can take a beating, or thicker merino sweaters, not thin cashmere-blends. Build your wardrobe off grays, blues, and browns, so things can easily coordinate without you needing to have to put in too much thought.
Upgrade 
The best way to not look like a college slob is to not dress like a college slob. Instead of graphic t-shirts, pick solid colors tees. Better still, try to wear shirts with collars, as they’ll help frame your face. Plaid flannels for fall, colorful madras for summer, and stripes year-round will help make those button-up shirts look less like office-attire. Long sleeve polos can also work, so long as they don’t look too fratty (I like Kent Wang’s). 
Instead of ratty or pre-distressed jeans, pick up a solid pair of dark, raw denim jeans that fit well. Levis is relatively cheap and easy. Maybe add a pair of chinos and corduroys too, so you have other things to wear.
Instead of college-branded sweatshirts, get merino sweaters. Club Monaco’s are pretty good on sale (they also offer a student discount year-round, which you can stack on top of sale prices). Cardigans can also work in theory, but they’re much harder to fit well than a simple crew- or v-neck sweater.
Instead of flip-flops and running shoes, get camp mocs, boat shoes, plimsolls, or desert boots. Clarks desert boots are a particularly good option if you’re on a student budget. You don’t have to put too much care into them besides applying some Obenauf’s LP for the beeswaxed versions or waterproof spray for suede, and the crepe soles will be comfortable for long-walks. Jesse has some other suggestions here as well.
Finally, there’s no alternative to cargo shorts, sweatpants, or basketball shorts. You just have to stop wearing those (unless, you know, you’re exercising or playing basketball).
Don’t Overdress
I know this site is often about sport coats and ties, but unless you’re a member of the Model United Nations or College Republicans, I encourage you to not wear ties as a college student. There are some campuses where this is normal, and you’ll know when you’re at one, but for everywhere else, you’ll just look out of place and over-dressed. For many campuses, sport coats may also make you stick out in a bad way.
If you really want to wear a sport coat, tweeds and corduroys can look a bit more natural on a college campus. For everyone else, I encourage reaching for more causal options. A vintage peacoat can be had for $50-75 through eBay, Vintage Trends, or a local thrift store. You can use this guide to help date your peacoat finds. For something new, check Fidelity.
There are also some go-to brands for decent, cheap(ish) outerwear. LL Bean Signature, Land’s End Canvas, and J Crew can be workable once they have their end-of-the-season sales (when things will be discounted 50-75%). J Crew also has a student discount, but only for in-store purchases. Additionally, Land’s End mainline is probably be less well-suited for a younger person, but this oilcloth jacket might be a good Barbour alternative. It can be had for under $100 if you wait for the right coupon codes. You can read Broke & Bespoke for a review. Lastly, Ben Sherman’s Harringtons can also be had through eBay for about $80.
And the Standard Advice
Add to this the standard advice.
Learn how clothes should fit. We have a few guides you can read through here. You have more wiggle room as a young, college student, but avoid things that are skin-tight or overly baggy.
Find a good alterations tailor and bring as much as you can to them. There are very few things a good alterations tailor can’t improve.
Make a wish list and tightly edit it. Make sure you’re building a wardrobe, and not just a collection of outfits. If something doesn’t mesh well with the other things you plan on buying, strike it off your list.
Set a budget and shop slowly. Especially at this age, your tastes can change rapidly, and if you buy everything now, you may find yourself regretting it next semester.
(Photo by John Morgan)

Style for College Students

There’s no kind way to put this: college students are some of the worst dressed people in America. I say that as man who has spent the last eleven years on college campuses – four as an undergraduate, two as a researcher, and five as a graduate student. This has been at three universities, but with many visits to other schools throughout the years.

To be sure, students are in a uniquely hard bind. They’re broke, very busy, and have little time for gainful employment. Not having a lot of time or money doesn’t lend itself well to picking up nice things. Plus, as a graduate student instructor, I’d rather see students spend more time on their studies than worry about what they should wear.

Still, dressing well in college isn’t that hard. Especially when the bar is set so low. So, in an effort to help students smarten up, I’ve come up with some tips.

Focus on Smart, Mid-quality Basics

The downside to being a student is that you’re broke, but the upside is that you can have a complete wardrobe with very few pieces. No need to worry about having separate weekend and weekday wardrobes; it’s just off to class and libraries for you. So, focus on buying mid-quality, versatile basics. Don’t go for anything too nice. Whether you’re getting straight-As or barely passing class, your lifestyle in college will be mostly rough on clothes and probably not very hygienic. Get things like decent jeans that can take a beating, or thicker merino sweaters, not thin cashmere-blends. Build your wardrobe off grays, blues, and browns, so things can easily coordinate without you needing to have to put in too much thought.

Upgrade

The best way to not look like a college slob is to not dress like a college slob. Instead of graphic t-shirts, pick solid colors tees. Better still, try to wear shirts with collars, as they’ll help frame your face. Plaid flannels for fall, colorful madras for summer, and stripes year-round will help make those button-up shirts look less like office-attire. Long sleeve polos can also work, so long as they don’t look too fratty (I like Kent Wang’s). 

Instead of ratty or pre-distressed jeans, pick up a solid pair of dark, raw denim jeans that fit well. Levis is relatively cheap and easy. Maybe add a pair of chinos and corduroys too, so you have other things to wear.

Instead of college-branded sweatshirts, get merino sweaters. Club Monaco’s are pretty good on sale (they also offer a student discount year-round, which you can stack on top of sale prices). Cardigans can also work in theory, but they’re much harder to fit well than a simple crew- or v-neck sweater.

Instead of flip-flops and running shoes, get camp mocs, boat shoes, plimsolls, or desert boots. Clarks desert boots are a particularly good option if you’re on a student budget. You don’t have to put too much care into them besides applying some Obenauf’s LP for the beeswaxed versions or waterproof spray for suede, and the crepe soles will be comfortable for long-walks. Jesse has some other suggestions here as well.

Finally, there’s no alternative to cargo shorts, sweatpants, or basketball shorts. You just have to stop wearing those (unless, you know, you’re exercising or playing basketball).

Don’t Overdress

I know this site is often about sport coats and ties, but unless you’re a member of the Model United Nations or College Republicans, I encourage you to not wear ties as a college student. There are some campuses where this is normal, and you’ll know when you’re at one, but for everywhere else, you’ll just look out of place and over-dressed. For many campuses, sport coats may also make you stick out in a bad way.

If you really want to wear a sport coat, tweeds and corduroys can look a bit more natural on a college campus. For everyone else, I encourage reaching for more causal options. A vintage peacoat can be had for $50-75 through eBay, Vintage Trends, or a local thrift store. You can use this guide to help date your peacoat finds. For something new, check Fidelity.

There are also some go-to brands for decent, cheap(ish) outerwear. LL Bean Signature, Land’s End Canvas, and J Crew can be workable once they have their end-of-the-season sales (when things will be discounted 50-75%). J Crew also has a student discount, but only for in-store purchases. Additionally, Land’s End mainline is probably be less well-suited for a younger person, but this oilcloth jacket might be a good Barbour alternative. It can be had for under $100 if you wait for the right coupon codes. You can read Broke & Bespoke for a review. Lastly, Ben Sherman’s Harringtons can also be had through eBay for about $80.

And the Standard Advice

Add to this the standard advice.

  • Learn how clothes should fit. We have a few guides you can read through here. You have more wiggle room as a young, college student, but avoid things that are skin-tight or overly baggy.
  • Find a good alterations tailor and bring as much as you can to them. There are very few things a good alterations tailor can’t improve.
  • Make a wish list and tightly edit it. Make sure you’re building a wardrobe, and not just a collection of outfits. If something doesn’t mesh well with the other things you plan on buying, strike it off your list.
  • Set a budget and shop slowly. Especially at this age, your tastes can change rapidly, and if you buy everything now, you may find yourself regretting it next semester.

(Photo by John Morgan)