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College Guy Guide to Style [Help me???]

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    College Guy Guide to Style [Help me???]

    I've been looking around this place for probably a month or so, and I love everything Dappered. It's been a long-time goal of mine to start dressing better, and I figured that you guys could help me.

    A little about me I guess:

    - I'm 20 and go to college in Illinois. I'm pretty average in terms of height and weight. 5'9", 145lbs.

    - In terms of style, I don't really have much though I've tried to change it. Last year I pretty much wore a hoodie/jeans 5/7 days a week. This year, I've tried to throw in sweaters every once in a while, etc. haha... but I figure it can definitely get better.

    - In terms of a budget, since I'm a college student, it's pretty low, so I'm not really looking to replace my whole wardrobe, but there are times where I'll randomly find myself with a couple hundred dollars extra, not knowing what to do haha

    So yeah, like I said I really want to change up my style and dress better. Also, I don't want it to look like I'm trying too hard to dress nice so ideally it would be classic over trendy... if that makes any sense.

    What I guess I'm looking for now are any and all tips that you guys have. I know a lot of the answers are on dappered, but I'd love to hear any advice specifically for college guys out there.

    Is there anything I should go buy RIGHT NOW?!

    Where are some good places to get good deals?

    What are some things I should definitely have in my wardrobe? [if it makes a difference, I do own 2 suits [grey, black] and multiple shirt/tie combos that I think are great already]

    More specifically, what kinds of things should I be wearing to class on a day-to-day basis?

    Are there any good blogs that college guys can go to for style?

    Sorry for the super long post. Thanks for all the help and let me know if you have any questions for me!


    Hey there, I got to the University of Toronto. Being downtown in the middle of business and fashion districts, people tend to dress fairly well (comparitively to other schools I have visited). That being said, I wouldnt go nearly as far as a suit.

    For the cold months, I have a collection of V neck sweaters, which I wear over a button up. Get a few pairs of chinos in different colours (if youre on a budget, Lands End Canvas has them on sale quite often, I bought 3 pairs at about $13 each with free shipping). Get a couple of pairs of nice jeans (not too distressed). Then its basically a matter of shoes. Go for a mid brown first. If your budget isnt very big, I would hunt for some nice ones on ebay. There are plenty of shoe suggestions to be found on these forums, and the ebay footwear listing thread could help you find what to look for, what not to, and what price you could get it for. Also invest in a nice charcoal peacoat. It has been the best investment in a piece of winter clothing I have made.

    For the warm months, I tend to go with some patterned shorts, polos, button-ups you can leave untucked, and for footwear usually boat shoes.

    These are very basic items which you likely own a lot of, and what you dont own, can be had on the cheap. Its a simple wardrobe, but the emphasis is on FIT, colour matching, and layering in the winter.





        What you "need" is all subjective, but let me see if I can't start you off proper with some essentials.

        1)Undershirts/t-shirts. Whether you're using them as the layer of an outfit, or just need a shirt to throw on so you can run to class in a t-shirt in jeans, head to Target. The Mossimo athletic fit T-shirts average $8-$10 but sales and the occasional clearance can snag you lower prices. They make all sorts of colors in solids, as well as striped, both crew neck and v-neck variety. Not the most "dappered" item out there, but a dark shade of denim and a solid v-neck would serve you better than a graphic T or concert t-shirt.

        2)Converse sneakers, ideally black or grey. You could even go the All Star route and buy a pair of those at Target, though I prefer the originals, which aren't much more expensive if you catch a good Macy's sale. Not only can you wear them casually, but they'll look great with khakis/chinos and a button down.

        3)Express Fitted polos. They just debuted this season, and are perfect for lean guys such as myself and yourself (I'm just under 6 ft. and 160). Right now they're buy one, get one half off, but you can combine that offer with the various coupons Express has on the web (which can also be printed for in store use). Again, polos can either be dressed up or down depending on the day. The 1MX shirts aren't known for longevity, but I've had good experiences with their non-1MX shirts (plaid, chambray, striped, etc.) and again, if you need something that will look good but not be too dressy, check those out as well.

        4)Dress shoes. Ideally you'll want one black pair and one brown pair to start. If you have a TJ Maxx or Marshall's in your area, head there ASAP. Florsheims are a reliable brand that you can get for $40-$50 a pair there. In fact, TJ Maxx/Marshall's should be utilized for a lot of your wardrobe building. If you need some ties, you can get name brands for, on average, $10 or less. For dress shirts, stick to the fitted/custom fit/slim route. Even established brands like Ralph Lauren, in their classic fit, have too boxy of a cut for my liking, and you're skinnier than I am. Shirts like this usually range anywhere from $15-$40 at TJ Maxx and Marshall's.

        5)Jeans and pants. For denim, the darker the better, since you can dress them up or down. Once again, check out Macy's. The Levi's 514's are usually anywhere from $35-$45 on sale, but usually retail for $54. Wait for a sale, if you can. There is a Levi's sub-brand available at Target that sells for $25-$30. For pants, Old Navy quality can be hit or miss, but their slim fit khakis can be a small investment to hold you over. I like the slim fit Tommy Hilfiger chinos at Macy's, and again, depending on the sale, can run you $30-$40 or so.

        I agree with Alan on cargo shorts, as I do like them as well (and really can't stand cargo pants either). I don't like them bulky though, so if you do go that route, make sure to find a slimmer cut. Well fitting button downs or polos worn with big, loose, bulging cargo shorts would look extremely sloppy.

        For a good "base" wardrobe, this is at least my opinion. Obviously opinions will vary, and it also depends on what you can afford.

        2 pairs of dark denim jeans, slim/straight cut

        3 pairs of pants/khakis/chinos. 1 black, 1 gray, 1 beige

        2 pairs of dress shoes. 1 black, 1 brown

        1 pair of sneakers, ideally Converse (something simple, preferably in black, white, gray)

        Black/charcoal/heather gray fitted v-neck and/or crewcut t-shirts. If you do go with white, refrain from wearing them under your dress shirts, as the shades of gray will look better.

        Button downs (casual and dressy). Solids should be white, black, blue (I prefer a sky blue or french blue over the dark navy, but that's me). For colors, go with lavender or a mint green. Checkered/gingham in either blue and white or black and white. For striped, I'd go with a white shirt with black stripes. You'll want neutrals for sure, because you can rotate them with the other pieces of your wardrobe much easier than buying, say, a turquoise or hot pink button down. Depending on your budget, I'd make your base of shirts start at 10. Since you don't need to launder shirts after every wear (unless you smoke, stain the shirt, etc.) you could essentially go 2 weeks without having to worry about laundry.

        2-3 polos. I would go with some combination of white/gray/black for your first 2, and then whatever color you prefer for the third.

        2 pairs of khaki shorts, or slim fitting cargo shorts.

        1-2 merino wool v-neck sweaters. At least one in a neutral color.

        I know the whole neutral color thing is redundant, but you want things that you can make combinations with, to give the effect that your wardrobe is more extensive than it is. I'll be honest, I've been through enough financially in the past 3 years, not to mention I went from a well-defined 175 to a much more leaner 160, which caused me to need to rebuy the majority of my shirts. Combine these factors with rent, bills, and the effects of the economy on everyday life, and sometimes I feel like I'm still living on a "college kid" budget! If you start off slow and wait it out for sales, you could have a whole new wardrobe (at least with what I've mentioned) for between $500-$1000. You can try ebay and thrifting, but some of us are much luckier than others in that department.



          Thanks for the quick replies you guys! Focuspants, I'm definitely going to be waiting on LEC for a good sale now haha.

          Zack, thanks for the great feedback and the specifics in terms of numbers. Luckily I already have a few of the things you mentioned. I think I'm gonna go the "wait it out for sales" route rather than e-bay/thrifting just because I have a lot of things going on this semester.

          Alan, I feel like you had some great tips... but I can't see any of them? I don't get it haha. Let me know if you know how to solve this problem.



            Sorry I deleted my post earlier. I didn't have time to finish it and I didn't want to leave it incomplete. Let me start over...

            From a college student's perspective, you want to dress nice, but not TOO nice. Start by ditching the sweat shirts and athletic shorts.

            In any situation that you get away with a t-shirt, a polo will look sharper and still be appropriate. Choose solid colors and make sure you don't get one that's going to shrink on you. Another option is rugby shirts. They're like long-sleeve polos with white collars and usually have thick, colored horizontal stripes. On days where it's chilly in the morning and warm in the afternoon, you can wear it at full length and then just push up the arms later. Work shirts and sport shirts are another option to add a collar to a casual shirt. Even though they're long sleeve, though, I don't consider them as dressy and neat as polos. But anything that let's you ditch the t-shirts is a win.

            While cargo PANTS are out-dated, cargo SHORTS are pretty great. A pair in khaki that end the knees will get you through 95% of what you'll do on campus. If you opt out of the cargo shorts, plain ol' khaki shorts are an equally good choice.

            Jeans are a no-brainer, but there are good jeans and bad jeans. They don't have to be expensive, but they shouldn't be baggy and they should be dark with no fading or rips.

            For non-jean pants, khaki-colored chinos are the place to start. And if you ended there, you'd be just fine.

            For shoes, there are a few options: canvas sneakers, boat shoes, and (IMO) leather flip-flops. Converse canvas sneakers are affordable and nice in versatile colors like cream, grey, or navy. Boat shoes are snappy and classic brands like Sperry Top Sider don't have to cost an arm and a leg. In college, I got the most use out of my leather flip-flops. Back then, the cheapest were from American Eagle, and it's still the cheapest at $20-25 per pair. (Not everyone will agree with me on the flip-flops, but I love mine. Just avoid the cheesy plastic/foam ones.)

            Once you have all the casual bases covered...

            Sounds like you've got suits, shirts, and ties so i won't spend any time there.

            A navy blazer can step the khakis up a notch, but if you're in college, you may not have many occasions to use it. You could easily look stuffy if nobody else around you is similarly dressed. If you're a frat guy or go to a private school, though, you may find more occassions. It'll tie your button-down shirts and your khaki chinos together. DON'T WEAR IT WITHOUT A COLLARED SHIRT! You'll look like a d-bag and you'll eventually stain the inside of the blazer's collar with your bare neck.

            What kind of shoes are you using with the suits? If they have an overly-square toe, you'll want to retire them as soon as you can. It's a fad that's ship has sailed. If they're not square, though, they're probably already fine enough to get you by. If you can wait until you NEED good shoes, that's a great time to hit up the parents. They're less likely to get you something you WANT, but they're more likely to get you something you NEED. ;-) Interviews are a great example.



              Here are the lands end chinos, but i have bigger athletic legs, based on your weight you may want to go with slimfit. The straight fits fit me great but if you dont have larger thighs I would go with slim fit.


              Theyre on sale for $16.97 right now.



                The beauty of college is that you can dress like you're on vacation every single day. When i was in school, that was khakis, an un-tucked, rolled sleeve, buttoned shirt (or polo), and leather flip flops... If everything is fitted and clean, it'll still look a heck of a lot nicer than the tennis shoes, athletic shorts, and hoodies all the other guys are wearing.



                  In today's digital age, wristwatches are less common. People just use their phones. However, a leather-banded wristwatch is functional, visually interesting, and can add a little something to an outfit. They don't have to be expensive, either.

                  This Timex Weekender gets a lot of play on Dappered:


                  I personally prefer this cream-colored face, though:


                  This one has a braided strap which is inherently casual, but it has a clean face. You can't wear it with a suit, but should go with just about anything else:


                  If you already own watch, there's no need to get another one. Just make sure you're using the one you've got.



                    I just had a thought. You should check out the "WIWT" thread and check out the stuff BenR wears. It's casual and clean - a very good look for young people. Of course, everything he's worn recently is winter gear.



                      @TennisKid - I agree with what others have said. The sales at Land's End Canvas is a great choice for clothes and a favorite of mine, especially being on a budget like yourself. For dress shirts, look for slim or trim fit dress shirts. They look 100 times better than regular fit dress shirts for someone slim like yourself. Marshall's is a great place for undershirts, underwear, dress shirts and ties.



                        College and budget.

                        Go to Target. They sell flat front shorts for 15 bucks. They sell polos for 15 bucks and some are 12 bucks. They are great basic clothes for summer. And are cheap. Try on different sizes. There is where you should begin withe summer months ahead.



                          @Tat: They had some plaid shorts at Target that I almost picked up for myself. Very tempting.



                            For belts, have a plain leather belt for each color of leather shoes you've got (which I expect you already have). Beyond that, colorful canvas belts or braided leather belts can round out the collection for casual situations. I found a reversible brown/black braided leather belt for $12 at Marshalls last week. Still looking for canvas belts under $15, though.



                              So I pretty much just read through all of WIWT and there are some great looks on there for sure!

                              Looks like my next purchases will be something along the lines of:

                              - Chinos

                              - Watch

                              - polos

                              - shirts/sweaters

                              I already have some great recommendations, but I would appreciate any more =]