Back to School Essentials

Before anything I would like to shout out Branden Fernandez who suggested I make this post. 

Identifying back to school essentials comes with a certain level of difficulty because the necessities differ from high school to college, and depend on your school’s location. But being that this suggestion comes from a college student that is the group I will focus on. 

In my three years of college thus far I have learned that the clothing essentials for the majority of schools include but are not limited to the following:

Beater Sneakers

Interview Wear



Rain Gear

These five things cover almost every situation you will find yourself in while at college. Although you will be wearing your normal wardrobe mostly, it is still imperative to have these for an out of the ordinary day. Most of these essentials are already in your closet, but if not, you will want to ensure that they are.

Beater Sneakers:

Beater sneakers are primarily used when going out or experiencing nightlife. The best beaters are inexpensive shoes. Choose between either white or black because these colors will go with any outfit combination, creating a level of simplicity. I cannot stress this enough: Do not spend a lot of money on shoes that will get ruined and no one will see. It is not worth it. 

“Do not spend a lot of money…”

The most reliable beaters are Converse Chuck Taylor’s and Vans Old Skool’s. These sneakers have been around for decades and become popular across all age groups due to their classic design, comfort and affordability. While I normally attach used listings, I would advise you purchase this back to school essential new. Retail for Chuck Taylor’s is only $50. High tops are $55. Vans Old Skool’s can be found on Amazon for under $50.

With either of these I can assure you will find more ease in creating cohesive outfits, look great, and not have to worry about ruining a good pair of sneakers.

Interview Wear:

Interview wear consists of all items that comprise a full suit. This includes a blazer with matching dress pants, a black or brown belt with matching color dress shoes, and a white button-down shirt and tie. With interviews, career fairs, presentations, and other events, it is important to have a full suit ready. For the necessities of interview wear you can refer to my last post “A Guide to Affordable Workwear” below.


At every party you will find someone wearing a jersey. Due to their popularity amongst college kids, typically used to stand out and show some personality, find the jersey that would accomplish this for you. There are hundreds of jerseys for all different teams, and sports. Try to avoid merely getting one that is super popular. It is always flattering getting compliments on your jersey when it stands out from everyone else’s.

Authentic jerseys can be quite expensive, therefore you are better off buying a knock-off. It will save you a ton of money, and even allow you to purchase 4 or 5 for the price of a single authentic one. I promise no one will notice the difference, or even care, because most people will be wearing a fake too. See below for one of my favorite knockoffs and notice how much cheaper it is than real one.


Having a quality hoodie and pair of sweatpants is important for everyday use. When you have a long day of class, work, practice and other extracurriculars it is important to stay comfortable. Comfort and durability are the most important qualities to look for within these articles. Because they are meant to be worn for the lengthy strenuous days where you just want to be cozy, quick dining hall trips, lounging etc… you want to make sure they can withstand it all. 

“Comfort and durability are the most important qualities to look for…

Before buying either of these I would go and look in your closet first. That high school track hoodie and matching sweatpants work well if they are still in fair condition. Do not spend money to buy these clothes if you already have them. However, if you cannot salvage anything you already have, then some good sweatpants and hoodies can be found at major athletic wear stores such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armor etc. I would suggest trying to find their hoodies and sweats too at places like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Macy’s, Modell’s or Factory Stores/Outlets that are known to have discounted name brands for significantly cheaper than retail. Normally I would attach a listing below, but I highly suggest doing a deep closet search before thinking about making any online purchases. Also from my experience, in store sales tend to be far more favorable for these than online ones. So instead of searching the internet, see if you can find success in one of the places I suggested first.

Rain Gear:

Lastly, because it rains everywhere, a raincoat is one article of clothing that can actually be considered a back to school necessity. There are a few types: pocket ponchos, heavy duties and collapsibles. Pocket ponchos are super thin plastic that reduce to pocket size and can be carried with ease. The perk of a poncho: it can fit over your entire outfit including your backpack; the downfall: they are super flimsy and susceptible to easy tearing. Heavy duty rain jackets can withstand any amount of rain that you might encounter, which make them awesome if your school frequents inclement weather. The downfall of these is they are far less portable. Collapsible raincoats are sturdy and can withstand heavy rain, while being portable since they reduce to a pouch small enough to fit in a book bag. These are the ideal medium. I have used all three and found the collapsible to by far be the best option. Each of these raincoat types can be found at many retailers. However, I would not suggest looking for a specific brand. Doing so might end in you purchasing one that is not quite the right combination of sturdy and portable. 

“Collapsible raincoats…are the ideal medium”

Unfortunately, I lost my collapsible raincoat last year ☹. It was a no name brand that I found at Macy’s on clearance for about $15. It folded into a shell a little smaller than a water bottle and could be carried on the side of my book bag. While this works best for me, one of the other two options might be better suited for you. Below I have attached a listing for each type of raincoat that I found online. 


Heavy Duty:


I hope you enjoyed this post or found it informative. Don’t forget to follow me to see what I post about next!


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