Upgrading the typical warm weather College Casual Outfit
Dressing well in college can be tough. Classes and social activities take up a good chunk of time, and if you have a job, well, that’s another commitment entirely. But, a lack of time from all of those things isn’t an excuse to dress poorly — in fact, they’re reasons to upgrade your style. If you’re going back to campus in a few weeks, or you graduated recently, chances are you’ve seen (or will see) guys make some poor, poor clothing choices. Everyone makes mistakes, but those can easily be avoided by switching out common items for some more, well, polished pieces.
In the warm months of the year, it seems for a lot of guys that there’s a go-to outfit repeated over and over, nearly everywhere: gaudy graphic tee or logo tee, baggy cargo shorts, athletic sneakers. It’s an easy, safe bet for most guys to throw on, but if you want to stand out in a positive way, some would say there are better options.
The upgrades are relatively simple, and it’s easy to pick out an outfit that’ll keep you cool in the heat without sacrificing looks. Switch out that graphic tee for a well-fitting polo, preferably something with a bit of color, and boom, instantly more polished. If you’re looking to upgrade your style on a budget, places like Old Navy or Uniqlo have them for ridiculously low prices. The Old Navy Uniform polos are a good buy. Granted, the quality isn’t that of a polo from J. Crew or another higher priced brand, but it does the job just fine in the meantime. Fit is decently trim through the body and sleeves, and they come in a number of colors. No matter the brand, once you find one, it’s a piece that can help you quickly turn things around while you save up for larger style upgrades.
On the shorts front, a pair that hits above the knee while fitting slim seems to be in short supply on a decent number of college guys. Why add all the unnecessary pockets of cargo shorts, even if slim-fitting options exist? For about the price of a particularly wild (or not wild?) bar crawl, Land’s End Comer Chino Shorts (as worn here in these photos), do the trick perfectly, eliminating the pockets and extra fabric while providing another pop of color (especially if you keep the polo neutral).
And on your feet, you want a pair of shoes that’s comfortable enough to make the trek across campus, but clean and simple enough to take you out for a meal afterwards. In the photo, those are Vans sneakers (in the chambray option) from Urban Outfitters. Depending on where you pick yours up, that could be the most expensive part of the outfit (those were something like $60 in-store at the time). But, in a neutral shade, they can be worn sockless and with any color shorts or polo. They can also pull duty with jeans or cuffed chinos, and they avoid the ostentatious logo of some athletic sneakers. All good things, right?
On your wrist, it’s tough to beat a Timex Weekender for casual wear (or maybe a field watch with a neutral strap?). The dial runs small on some larger guys, but for most, it’ll be a nice, understated size at an extremely reasonable price point ($20 – $30). The slip-thru strap option allows you to add even more variety to your outfit, and compared to some ‘fashion’ watches out there nowadays, it’s more versatile and classic-looking.
There you have it. An outfit like this isn’t world-beating by any means; it wouldn’t make any street style shots or end up on the runways, but sometimes, simplicity is better – much better. Heck, wear an outfit like this two or three days a week, switching out the bottom for jeans and desert boots or the like, and there’s a good chance you’ll out dress many of your classmates. Upping your style game in ways like this will catch the attention of your professors as well, and dressing with a more formal bent just makes you feel better, more confident and hopefully, more alert for those 8 a.m. classes. Now, go hit the books.
Beau is a senior editor at The State News, Michigan State’s student newspaper. A #menswear enthusiast, Beau can be found on Twitter @BoKnowsClothes. He aspires to one day own the ‘Bond’ peacoat.