Mens Wardrobe Essentials: 9 College Closet Must-Haves

Colleges and universities may have improved dorm life, making freshman dorm life a bit more comfortable, but one thing that hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years is the lack of storage space. A college student often doesn’t have large closets or ample drawer space. But being forced to keep your college wardrobe relatively small doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A young man’s wardrobe should be versatile and not limited to only casual clothes and college sports apparel. The days of colleges requiring young men to wear a coat and tie to class may be long gone, but it’s still a good idea for an undergraduate to have a versatile wardrobe. Having a few basic men’s wardrobe essentials equips a college student for a multitude of situations. From the casual to the semi-formal, college clothes should include these staple pieces.


  1. Staple Bottoms 
  2. Athlesuire and Sports Clothes
  3. Comfortable Lounging Wear
  4. Crisp Dress Shirts
  5. Colorful Button Downs
  6. Dependable Jeans
  7. A Smart Blazer (or Two)
  8. Shoes for Every Occasion
  9. Trusty Jackets and Coats

The 9 Items Every Man Needs In His Closet 

1. Staple Bottoms

Every guy should have a couple of pairs of dark trousers in his closet. Pressed and ready to go, a pair of trousers has range. Quality pants are fall wardrobe essentials that can be worn casually with a sweater or untucked dress shirt for a business casual look, or dressed up with a crisp, white shirt and tie. 


Lighter colored trousers, like khaki or gray, can be the right look for a classroom presentation or a night out for coffee.

2. Athlesuire and Sports Clothes

Sport shirts are an important part of any well-dressed man’s wardrobe and college students are no different. Golf shirts, fashion tees and other casual shirts are easy to care for and are often the heart of a young man’s style. A man shouldn’t feel limited to college t-shirts and other relaxed clothes. A couple of plain dark t-shirts are going to find a lot of use around campus.

3. Comfortable Lounging Wear

Obviously, comfort is important. Students do go to college for an education and that does mean studying. Classic hoodies have been a college staple for almost 100 years. Be sure to have a hoodie with your school’s name or logo for those football games as the leaves start to fall.


Be forewarned: the most comfortable college sweatshirts are often “borrowed” by an adoring girlfriend or boyfriend. Nonetheless, until they are stolen, they are perfect for late-night study sessions or a game of flag football.

4. Crisp Dress Shirts

A crisp, white dress shirt is a must-have in any man’s closet. A white dress shirt is one of those basic wardrobe essentials that will come in handy for interviewing, whether for an internship or a career. Greeks will certainly have social events and rituals that they’ll want to be prepared for. But even unaffiliated students have a social calendar to think about. Students can look forward to Homecoming, mixers and semi-formals with confidence.

5. Colorful Button Downs

A couple of colored button-downs are elements of style that never fail. Students will find that some situations call for an elevated look. When a t-shirt, sweats and college apparel aren’t going to cut it, a button-down is a must. Having a good-quality, neutral colored shirt or two is a men's wardrobe essential in 2021. Able to go from the lecture hall to date night, the button-down is timeless and versatile.

6. Dependable Jeans

Jeans will always be a men's wardrobe essential. Just remember that those broken-in, super casual jeans are not the ones we’re talking about (they’ve got a place, too). We are talking about style-conscious, brand-name looks. Think “business-casual,” not “everything-casual.” 


It may be appropriate to rock some jeans at the workplace, but chances are that the internship supervisor will be more apt to remember a student positively if they show up looking smart and put-together.

7. A Smart Blazer (or Two)

No man’s fall wardrobe is complete without a smart blazer. Whether your college student is the kind of guy that gravitates towards sharp, tailored style or a counter-culture rebellion, the right blazer will be worth its weight in used textbooks. The blazer will be another one of those versatile pieces that find its way around classrooms, the quad, and date night. 

8. Shoes for Every Occasion

Finally, no young man should head off to college without something to put on their feet, other than sneakers. Of course, sneakers are perfect for making it across campus quickly when time is short and are considered a foundation for casual attire, but sometimes a man needs to up their game. A derby shoe is a step up from sneakers, without being too formal. There are platform soles, traditional leather and varying lace-up styles that establish sophistication while staying true to a man’s personal taste.

9. Trusty Jackets and Coats

Don’t forget to pack a jacket. Actually, a couple of jackets. A denim jacket or windbreaker is likely to help as the air turns crisp. A wool overcoat or leather jacket will come in handy when it gets cold, especially if your student is going to school up north. And a hat isn’t a bad idea, either. A ball cap or a beanie, whatever their style, is important for inclement weather.

Why Wardrobe Staples are Key

With space at a premium, it is important to plan ahead and know what you bring to campus. It is easier to add pieces once someone knows what their needs are. There will be opportunities to adjust your wardrobe as the fall semester progresses. And remember, there are going to be things that invade a dorm closet or dresser as the term goes on.  College T-shirts, regalia, and other college-related items, as well as other men’s wardrobe essentials, seem to find their way into every student’s wardrobe through four years of college.


The key to being prepared for a semester’s worth of dressing is to stock up on key college wardrobe essentials. Focus on quality, rather than quantity. Know what to expect of the weather around campus in autumn, especially if your student is off to a new region. And of course,  be authentic to personal style in everything you choose.