Function over fashion: 5 items every UI student needs

By Annabeth Carlson

In high school, I tried to look fashionable every day. Whether it was with a cute purse to hold my books or fun high-heeled boots to walk the halls, I felt that I had nailed classroom chic. 

However, college was a rude awakening. I did not take into account that I would be walking everywhere everyday – even in the rain, wind and snow. The days were gone where my mom picked me up and dropped me off at school. 

Suddenly, my heeled boots were ruined by the snow and my shoulder was bruised from carrying my laptop and books in my purse. Simply put, fashion does not come before function when you are walking miles to class in all four seasons. While I still try to dress my best, here are the four items I’ve learned you cannot sacrifice for fashion:

1. Sneakers

I can’t even count how many times I have gotten blisters on my feet or nearly twisted my ankle because I wore an unsensible pair of shoes around campus. Flip flops with no support or too-tall wedges will not cut it when you are rushing to class on the faraway South Quad. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Finally I gave into wearing sneakers and they have done wonders for my foot health (Wow, never imagined I would write an article with the words ‘foot health.’). Luckily, you can still make a stylish statement with your sneaks as there are many colors and patterns available!

2. Rainboots and umbrella

Illinois weather is so unpredictable. It can be sunny and 75 degrees one day, and hailing and 50 degrees another. That’s why I am sure to never be caught without an umbrella (Mine has fun flowers on it!). 

Also, the campus sidewalks tend to flood, so be sure to invest in a pair of rainboots. I’m still thinking about the leather shoes I ruined after stepping in a muddy puddle freshman year.

3. Parka for winter

There is no item I have more of a love/hate relationship with than my parka. As I am only 5’2, this massive, puffy coat makes me somewhat resemble a human marshmallow. 

But I will admit that as I waddle around campus (it reaches my knees), my body feels as warm as it would on a summer’s day. That may be a bit of an overstatement but if you haven’t experienced walking around Champaign in the winter, you will understand soon. 

Any time I try to leave the house in something more fitted and fashionable, I immediately run back inside to grab my parka. Marshmallow: 1 Annabeth: 0

4. Backpack

As midterms and finals roll around, many students set up camp in their favorite campus study spots. When making the trek to the UGL, I’ve learned a small tote bag does not cut it when it comes to holding your laptop, books, charging cords, water bottle, calculator, etc. 

All of the pockets can help you organize your things and supportive straps help prevent the aforementioned shoulder bruises. And just like the sneakers, find a backpack that suits your personal style! Tweet: Check out these 5 items you need to survive all four seasons on campus.

Annabeth is a junior in Media.