What to wear: Stock up on fashionable undergarments, throw away high school tees

Sorry, the high school basketball state finals tee isn’t gonna cut it here. But you can definitely (and should definitely) pack these essential wardrobe items and accessories. Just seriously, leave the [town name] High School stuff at home or at Goodwill.

Gotta have ‘em

Umbrella: It’s central Illinois, and it rains. A lot. But you’re thinking, “Nah, I don’t need one of those because I’ll just run quickly and get out of the weather.” I thought that once, too, until a torrential rain penetrated my “waterproof” backpack and destroyed a $200 textbook I was carrying. I now own four umbrellas.

Waterproof shoes: Whether it’s an over-priced pair of Hunter rain boots or a plastic bag duct-taped around your shoes (I did it once, minus the duct tape), you’re going to have to buy them soon, rather than later. The first time you sit through four lectures back to back with soggy shoes, you’ll understand why these are a good investment. Plus, a pair of rainboots double as snow boots because as pretty as the day after a blizzard can be, you get to walk through it. Except, it’s not snow because the salt on the sidewalks has turned them into the Nile of slush. Please, don’t eat it.

Ugly Christmas sweater: Have your tried shopping for one after Halloween? I guarantee you that you won’t find one anywhere. Start looking now. Partying during finals week in December when you should be studying just isn’t the same unless you’re decked out in a sweater with more bells and whistles than an iPhone. 

Underwear (and bras): If you can’t go 30 days without doing laundry, you don’t have enough. You’ll learn that when you’re one of 10 people waiting to use the one working washing machine in your building. Also, if you haven’t started buying fashion undergarments (read: Victoria’s Secret, Express, DKNY, etc.), start now: You’re going to be seen in them more often than you anticipate.

Suit: You’re in the Big Leagues, now, and employers and recruiters expect nothing less from their prospective new hires. Can’t afford a suit? Guys, slim dress pants, a fitted shirt with a stylish tie and vest to tie it all together can look as sharp as any suit. Girls, a pencil skirt, blouse and moderately conservative heels will command the audience you deserve. In the words of the best-dressed man on television Barney Stinson: “Suit up.”

Resist the temptation

Sperry’s: Everyone has them — guys and girls — which is precisely why you shouldn’t. Believe it or not, but shoes say just as much (if not more, sometimes) about you as your entire outfit does. And if you’re wearing the same shoes as everyone else, what does that say about you? I don’t know either. Make a statement.

High school apparel: Bring ‘em along only if you’d rather donate them in Champaign instead of at home. If you haven’t amassed 15 new tees by the end of first semester (what with Quad Day, barcrawls and Illinois apparel), you did it wrong. Wearing your old high school gear says you aren’t ready to grow up and move on, or it says you don’t care about your appearance. Neither option is going to fly well here, especially when college the biggest and most exciting step in your life up to this point.

Sweat pants and yoga pants: Try as you may, by Week 3 you will think 9 a.m. lectures are devil’s gift to humanity, and you’re going to get lazy with your clothes. Before I continue, I need to say that everyone is entitle to their lazy days, but don’t tempt yourself too much by owing sweat pants and yoga pants in four shades of every color. Put on a pair of jeans. Seriously.

Being too trendy: Fashion is cool, and it says quite a bit about you — but it isn’t everything. But doing your own thing, buying what you like (and not necessarily what everyone else is wearing) will be better for everyone involved.

And there’s nothing better than wearing that unique find and hearing a stranger utter these words: “I love your shirt. Where’d you get it?”

Ryan is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ryanjweber.