September has chimed in, marking the start of a new academic year. Everyone from freshers to those crying into their dissertations will soon begin the mammoth task of packing their whole lives into suitcases, boxes and bin bags, before heading to campus.
To help streamline the process, we’ve curated the perfect university capsule wardrobe, below, which will see you through everything from messy nights out to lectures to meetings with your professors.
Prioritising quality and value for money over all else, these affordable staples will ensure you don’t blow your entire student loan on new threads, leaving you more money for the things that really matter: alcohol and socialising.
1. The Raincoat
Whether walking to lectures or hitting the shops at the weekend, there’s a high chance you’ll get caught in a rain shower in the coming months.
Having a simple waterproof raincoat to hand at all times, like this classic option from Danish label Rains, will help defy any storm, and it comes complete with handy pockets to keep gadgets dry.
Rains Yellow Short Jacket, available at Topman, priced £75.
Socks may seem like an extremely obvious essential, but a few decent pairs will last longer than hundreds of low quality picks.
H&M offer discounted multi-packs in a range of versatile neutral colours, with this rib-knit four-pack crafted from a cotton-elastane blend for a soft and comfortable feel.
4-Pack Rib Knit Socks, available at H&M, priced £6.99.
Say goodbye to the cartoon or slogan-laden underwear of your teenage years. To ensure you look just as good out of your clothes as you do in them, invest in a few smart pairs in whatever cut you prefer.
This high quality three-pack from Marks & Spencer is crafted from stretch cotton for a snug fit and features the high street retailer’s StayNEW technology to reduce colour loss and bobbling.
M&S Collection Assorted Trunks 3 Pack, available at Marks & Spencer, priced £18.
Once that reading list comes in and you find yourself carting numerous books around, you’re going to need a sturdy backpack to rely on.
Specialist brand Mi Pac excels when it comes to hard-wearing bags with plenty of style. This grey number is perfect to match with any day-to-day look, with more than enough room for extras like a laptop.
Mi-Pac Classic Backpack, available at ASOS, priced £20.
5. Leather Boots
With campus life comes a lot of walking, from lecture halls to the weekly shop and beyond. Therefore, heavy duty footwear is essential.
Opt for leather boots with a hard-wearing rubber sole, robust upper and rope laces, to last you through the winter snow, wet days and long journeys home.
We love the brogue detailing on this pair from ASOS, giving them a smarter feel that allows you to wear them on a night out, too.
Brogue Boots in Brown Leather, available at ASOS, priced £50.
6. Basic Tees
It’s no surprise a good set of basic tees has secured a spot on our list.
Purchase in a range of colours to be set for every occasion.
Supima Short Sleeve T-Shirt, available at Uniqlo, priced £9.90 each.
Uniqlo is also the brand to turn to for high quality, affordable denim that will adapt to any occasion, from lectures to nights out.
Before jumping on jeans trends that will pass (like ripped knees), you should invest in a classic indigo pair. These dark wash selvedge jeans feature a slim-cut leg and are guaranteed to work with everything else in your wardrobe.
Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans, available at Uniqlo, priced £34.90.
8. Casual Oxford Shirt
Unless you’re headed for a Russell Group university, you won’t often find yourself in formalwear. Therefore, invest in a relaxed Oxford shirt that can be smartened up when needed.
Look for versatile shades, such as Gap’s light blue and white options, that will match with almost anything.
Modern Oxford Solid Shirt, available at Gap, priced £34.95 each.
9. Plain Sweatshirt
To really amp up your casual wardrobe, be sure to have a plain sweatshirt in your arsenal. This essential can be worn to the gym, with jeans for lectures, or layered over your Oxford shirt to sharpen up.
Mango’s plain grey round neck option with raglan sleeves is a great all-rounder.
Brushed Cotton Sweatshirt, available at Mango, priced £29.99.
10. Casual Blazer
If you want to add a sophisticated touch to your university wardrobe without going for a full suit, keep a casual blazer waiting in the wings.
Jersey options in navy or grey, such as this one from River Island, offer a softer take on the structured garment, proving worthy whether hitting the town or presenting to the class.
Navy Denim Jersey Blazer, available at River Island, priced £60.
11. White Trainers
A pair of white trainers is essential when it comes to casual dressing, due to their unfussy, classic style.
Adidas’ iconic Samba silhouette – named one our iconic trainer models worth owning – is neat, comfortable and versatile, as well as being great value in a market overflowing with luxury options.
adidas Samba White Gum Black Trainer, available at Offspring, priced £59.99.
12. Smart Joggers
You’re almost guaranteed to experience the full force of a weekend hangover at university, so a pair of comfortable joggers should be near the top of your packing list.
River Island’s simple grey pair have that laid-back loungewear feel, yet the pleated front and slim cut add a slightly smarter edge.
Dark Grey Smart Pintuck Jersey Trouser, available at River Island, priced £32.
13. Bomber Jacket
Tap into collegiate vibes by going with a preppy varsity-style bomber jacket, such as this one from Zara.
Ditch bold baseball branding in favour of pared-back detail and textures, this piece has a sports luxe feel that will lift any outfit.
Throw it on with your plain basics or layer over an Oxford shirt for an equally stylish finish.
Padded Bomber Jacket, available at Zara, priced £49.99.
14. Slim Chinos
When denim or joggers just won’t cut it, turn to a pair of slim-fitting chinos. A smarter alternative to your usual legwear, this beige pair from Mango can be styled with your Oxford shirt and relaxed blazer for a night out, or teamed with your bomber for a casual look.
Either way, you’ll be glad to have an extra pair of trousers to hand when you forget to wash the others.
Pleated Cotton Chinos, available at Mango, priced £45.99.
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