Fall outfits and how to dress for the weather on your college campus

Fall can be the most challenging time of year to dress for the weather. If you live on campus in a centrally located dorm, like I did, realizing you’ve got on the wrong fall outfits isn’t a crisis—you can always go back and change between classes. But for college students who have a long hike to and from the dorm, the quick change isn’t an option.

Check out these college life hacks that will help you get a handle on how to best dress for the ever-shifting weather.

Know your climate

Obviously, fall has different consequences depending on where you live. Here in New England, the weather can have a huge range during the day. I always start the day with more layers than I end it—and then add the layers on again at night. If you’re in Kansas City, Missouri, like Frank Lillig, who wrote “Fall for Life Hacks” on the University of Missouri—Kansas City website on October 14, 2014, fall weather means cooler temperatures and a lot more precipitation. If you’re an out-of-state student, especially in your first year on campus, talk to some locals, upperclassmen, or student life staff about what you can expect for the shift in weather, and then hope you packed appropriately!

If you’ve got any sort of drop in temperature, or variance in weather depending on the day, dressing in layers is a key life hack. But it’s not just a matter of throwing on extra clothing; there’s actually science to it, according to Lillig. “Put on thinner layers first,” he advised. “A t-shirt, then a long sleeved shirt and then a jacket on top will help insulate and keep in body heat.”

Lillig offers the same tips for your dorm room. When you head to bed for the night, cover with sheet, then a light blanket and then a heavier comforter. Just don’t pile on too many layers, unless you want to sweat all night long!

Take care of your clothes

Dennis Green of Business Insider offered “12 fall clothing and style hacks every guy should know” on September 27, 2015. Along with making sure readers know the “sometime, always, never” rule of buttoning jackets (on a three button jacket, sometimes button the top for sake of style, always button the middle, never the bottom; a two button jacket changes to “always [top], never [bottom]”), Green offered some tips on keeping your clothes in good condition so you don’t wear them out.

  • Fold your sweaters. If you hang them in your tiny dorm room closet, not only do they take up too much space, they also stretch out at the shoulders.
  • Wear alternating pairs of shoes. Especially in the case of dress shoes, wearing them day after day can actually damage the shoe: dampness, even from sweat, can stretch them out.
  • Avoid the dryer. On campus, this might not be practical—not many dorms have clothes lines for hang drying. But if you live off campus and can find a place to hang dry your clothing, it will last longer. There’s also a life hack for smaller items: if you can snag a salad spinner at a thrift store, it makes a great clothing spinner for delicates!

Be prepared for foul weather

One of my most useful items of clothing when I lived in Cambridge, MA was a set of foul weather gear. That fall there were a ton of rain storms when I needed to walk to a city bus, and having a lightweight rain coat and pants could be a life saver. If you drive around campus, think about keeping a spare set of clothing—or at least an umbrella—in your car. It’s also handy to keep a blanket and a towel in your trunk, plus a car safety kit such as the one Lorraine Savage described here on CengageBrain in “DIY college tips for survival kits for dorm rooms and car.”

It’s also a good idea to weatherproof your shoes and boots. Another life hack I’ve read is that it’s a good idea to break in a leather coat by wearing it in the rain. Apparently getting it wet helps get rid of the stiffness of a new leather jacket.

What are your favorite fall outfits and clothing tips for changing weather? Tell us in the comments.

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