To Pack or Not to Pack? The Struggles of College Dorm Living as a Fashionista


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For many of us, the excitement of college lies just around the corner…as in, less than two weeks around the corner (yay!). But before the rush of trying new things, meeting new people, and exploring a topic of interest, the first test of college is the stress and difficulty of packing. That’s right. There’s no secret that dorms are small, with even smaller closet space. So you have to find some way to decide which of your beloved clothing items you can take and which will suffer the lonely fate of being left behind. Oh, what is a fashionista to do?!

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My roommate texted me the other day after a long conversation about our shared shopping and shoe addictions, and she said something to the effect of: “Please tell me you’re going to do a blog post about deciding what clothes to take to college!” As it so happened, in the very moment I heard the playful bing of that text arriving I was writing a list of what clothes to leave at home when it came time to pack. In fact, I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom, surrounded by piles of clothing and tangled belts and mismatched shoes—it was closet clean-out day! Or at least, day one of closet clean-out…You know how it is.

While I very much appreciated the suggestion (I’m always looking for your ideas for blog posts—get in touch with me!) I didn’t think I could write a post on something I knew nothing about…After all, I am also struggling with the same dilemma of what to pack. Nonetheless, I wanted to share a few tidbits that I’ve been noodling on to assist in this difficult decision (it’s oh-so dramatic). Here are a few things to consider:

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  • How do you wash and dry it? I haven’t lived it yet, but I assume doing laundry in college will be a pain. If you have to choose between something that’s easily washed and one that requires washing by itself in the delicate cycle (thus, paying for a whole separate load and waiting an extra 40 minutes), consider leaving that piece at home. Thankfully for me, almost all of my clothes require washing on the delicate cycle, so I don’t need to worry too much about the hassle of an extra load. But don’t forget about drying either—will the clothes you take withstand a dryer, or will they require a drying rack? And where might you keep this drying rack in the small, dark cave that is your dorm room?
  • Requires ironing or dry cleaning? Leave it at home. This one is kind of a no-brainer for me, as I purposely [almost] never purchase items that require either of these special treatments. Ironing entails a lot of time (not to mention space) and dry cleaning gets expensive. College students have neither time nor money, so just make it easy on yourself.
  • Can you use the piece to create at least three outfits? Or better yet, when was the last time you wore it? When it comes to clothing, I like to hoard. If I can think of even one look to create with a particular piece, I’ll still keep it in the back of my closet, awaiting that perfect occasion before sending it back to hibernation for another year. However, this way of life is not conducive to a college student’s closet. The key is versatility; you want each piece that’s taking up valuable space in your tiny wardrobe to hold purpose and to yield multiple outfits. This doesn’t mean you have to stop hoarding though. Remember, now you have twice the closet space—your dorm for your everyday clothing essentials and your closet at home, where you can keep all those unique, difficult-to-style hoarder pieces. Then when you come home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break, it feels like you have a whole new wardrobe waiting for you. How exciting!
  • Can another piece replace this one in an outfit? I get it, I love having options—who doesn’t? But sometimes one item will do in the place of three. Do you really need all three of those white blouses? What about the plethora of striped t-shirts in your drawer? If space is tight, it’s probably best to just take one piece from each “category” and leave the rest for your at-home wardrobe. This also goes for fancy dresses. If you’re like me, you worry about getting invited to a formal dance or fancy dinner while away at college and not having anything to wear. But one nice dress will do, you don’t need your entire collection of high school homecoming and prom dresses shoved into your dorm closet.
  • Can you switch seasonal items out when you come home for school breaks? I’ve tried in the past to organize my closet seasonally and store off-season pieces in bins under my bed. This method has never worked for me, mostly because I love mixing and matching different items and ignoring the strict definition of when certain articles should be worn. But that doesn’t mean it can’t work for you. You can take your summer items with you to college now, along with some of your favorite pants and a few sweaters/layers. Then for fall or Thanksgiving break, you can swap out the summer looks for the rest of your fall and winter wardrobe. It certainly makes a lot of sense and can create much-needed space in your closet.

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I love cleaning out my closet (as weird as that may sound—it is a chore, after all), and the challenge of my future dorm packing makes it that much more interesting. While I still haven’t discovered the perfect formula for what to pack and what to leave at home, these tips have helped me make some decisions and narrow down my selection—I hope they will help you too! If you have any ideas, tips, suggestions, or questions, feel free to leave me a comment at the bottom of this post. I always respond and would love to help you!

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I’m looking forward to keeping you updated on my dorm adventures and to hear about your own college clothing struggles. Enjoy your Monday!


Miles of smiles,



P.S. As part of my blog reboot, I wanted to try writing like a fashion article, with sophisticated language and a more editorial voice. What did you think of today’s post? While I love the challenge of writing differently and more elegantly, I do miss the conversational tone of my old blog posts—this seems a bit stiff and impersonal in comparison. I would love your thoughts on the matter as I continue to experiment in the future! Thanks. 🙂


Striped Dress: Old Navy, $20 // White Heeled Sandals: DSW, $50 // Pink Belt // Pink Polka Dot Kate Spade Purse: was a gift




6 comments on “To Pack or Not to Pack? The Struggles of College Dorm Living as a Fashionista”

  1. Hey Grace! I’m a camper from sibling camp… and I just wanted to say that I love this outfit it looks soooo adorable!!

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