How to Choose Which Clothes to Bring to College
Assume you are about to make a pizza. You open the refrigerator and pull out what you think you’ll need: pizza dough, a pound of pepperoni, a large bowl of mushrooms, and 8 cups of cheese.
As you take it all in, you realize that none of these ingredients will fit on your 7-inch crust. So you must now make some difficult decisions: What will you use? What will you forego? And how will you arrange your ingredients, so they don’t fall off and make a gooey mess in the oven?
Packing clothes for college, like fitting many ingredients onto a tiny pizza crust, necessitates some difficult decisions. In both cases, some fundamental principles apply that will assist you in making sound decisions.
Whether you share a room or have your room in college, your space will likely be smaller than you are accustomed to. Not only that, but this small space must serve as a bedroom, a study area, a living room, and a storage closet.
Living in these small spaces can impact your body, mind, and spirit, leaving you confined, restless, and unfocused. In addition, when your small room is crammed with too much clothing, your physical movement is restricted, and you may feel stymied in your efforts to achieve your personal goals. However, you can transform your college room into a comfortable place to sleep, study, and hang out with some planning and know-how.
The amount of clothing you bring into your small room, where you put it, and how you store it can create a sense of space or confinement. Follow these two steps to feel more relaxed and at ease in your college room:
• Step 1: Only bring what you need, use, enjoy, and will fit.
• Step 2: Make sure everything has a home.
Step 1: Only bring what you need, use, love, and will fit.
Determine the Size of Your Storage Area
Learn about the storage and floor space available before moving in to ensure you bring clothing that fits your new room. Get a floor plan, seek advice from upper-level students, and take an online virtual tour of rooms or apartments in your building.
Take note of how many storage pieces each student has, and measure or estimate the closet, bureau, shelves, and desk dimensions. For example, how many and how large are the drawers in each?
If you don’t know how much storage space you’ll need, take whatever will fit into a small bureau and narrow closet. After all, if you discover you have enough space, you can always bring in more items later.
Decide What Clothes to Bring
Ask five questions about each item as you plan what to bring:
• Do I enjoy it?
• Will I require it?
• Will I make use of it?
• Does it reflect who I am or want to be in the future?
• Is it going to fit?
If you can’t answer “yes” to the last question and at least one of the others, leave the clothes home.
Next, separate what you know you’ll wear from what you think about wearing.
Put the clothing you’re unsure about in a box in your home bedroom and ask your parents to send it to you if you need it later.
There are several ways to ensure you bring a diverse wardrobe to your new room. First, make decisions based on the need and frequency of laundry; for example: Bring less of one item if you want or need more of another.
The goal is for everything to have a place. However, when your storage space is total, energy becomes trapped. The point in your brain then becomes trapped, causing confusion and slowing your thought processes.
Many students bring almost every piece of clothing they own, not just their socks. They buy large plastic storage bins to hold them all, often crammed under a bed or stacked against the wall. Excess clothing takes up valuable space, and the synthetic containers emit toxins known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which affect respiration. The more plastic you have in your building, the worse the problem becomes for everyone!
So, what is a viable alternative?
Limit the clothing you bring to avoid taking up valuable storage space. Check that your attire is appropriate for the weather, planned activities, and the college culture.
Then follow the 100% Clothing Rule: only bring clothing you are sure you will wear. Here’s a bonus: wearing clothes you like makes you more likely to be yourself! Again, if you’re not sure if you need something, leave it in a convenient place at home and have it shipped if you do. Having more pizza than you can eat or more stuff than you can store is pointless!
If you need more space, use containers made of fabric, cardboard, or another natural material.
Another reason to bring a small-size wardrobe to college is that you and your clothing style may change once you arrive, meet new people, and have new experiences.
Set aside some money for clothing to purchase items representing your college’s culture. For example, Jack Rogers sandals are famous footwear at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, while students at the University of Vermont wear Patagonia or Northface down vests!
Step 2: Create a Home for Everything
Natural storage containers and ottomans are ideal for storing small items.
When many small objects are scattered throughout your room, there is no place for the eye to rest, making it difficult to relax and focus. Make sure you have a place for everything to avoid this.
Bring baskets or natural storage containers (made of cardboard, rubber, or bamboo) to store small items like belts and scarves. Before purchasing the containers, measure your room’s shelves and horizontal surfaces and consider what you’ll hold.
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