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Do Colleges Have Dress Codes? What To Wear To Class, Interviews & Parties!

It may surprise international students who are used to formal dress codes that students at US universities and colleges dress very casually.

The type of clothing you wear at a college depends on whether you are attending an interview, in a classroom, or at a college event.

Check out this post for more information on college dress codes.

Do Colleges Have Dress Codes?

Most public schools and colleges have the school dress code policy in their student handbook. While clothing restrictions exist, they are not typically enforced, with the exception of the requirement to wear appropriate attire for safety reasons, as well as ensuring that private body parts are not exposed.

College students are free to dress casually, and however they wish, but it is expected that they will not wear inappropriate outfits with offensive words or pictures. So, while you may not have been able to wear tank tops and ripped jeans in high school, these clothing items are acceptable at most public universities in America.

Some colleges, particularly those that are conservative or religious, may enforce more strict dress codes on their students.

There are also some classes that require the wearing of overalls and safety shoes, as well as avoiding loose clothing for safety reasons.

Do Colleges Have Dress codes

Do Colleges Have Uniforms?

With the exception of official military academies and some specialized institutions like medical, culinary, and veterinary schools, most public colleges do not require uniforms.

What To Wear On The First Day Of College?

On the first day of college, please keep it simple and comfortable. Take into consideration the weather and season. If it is cold outside, dress warmly and stylishly for the weather. Not sure about the weather; dress up in layers that you can remove as the day gets warmer. Make sure to prioritize comfort when selecting an outfit.

As you will walk a lot on the first day of school, from registering, finding classes, and getting familiar with the campus, you will need comfortable shoes.

First day of college outfit idea for girls:

First day of college outfit
Image Source: Pinterest

First day of college outfit idea for boys:

First day of college outfit idea for boys
Image Source: Pinterest

Another essential accessory to remember is your bag or backpack for books and a laptop. Make sure to have water to rehydrate after all the walking. Most importantly, make certain comfort is your priority when selecting an outfit.

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What To Wear To College Classes?

Although there is no uniform requirement in most colleges, it is important to dress appropriately when attending college classes. An easy go-to option is a casual t-shirt and jeans; throw on a sweatshirt or jacket if it’s chilly.

Although you can wear pajamas, flip-flops, and baseball caps on campus, it doesn’t mean you should dress down in the classroom.

According to Dr. Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD, Executive Director, Northern California at Newport Institute, you might be less productive when wearing pajamas to class. Whether it’s a conscious choice because it’s comfier, or you subconsciously associate your pajamas with bedtime or relaxation time, what many might deem insignificant can lead to dwindling motivation, productivity, and academic performance. By wearing relaxed clothes, your brain might feel sluggish too.

How to dress for college classes: Cute Casual Outfit Ideas

Cute casual outfit ideas
Image Source: Pinterest

Casual comfy outfit ideas

Casual comfy outfit ideas
Image Source: Pinterest

You don’t need to change your style; most likely, you can wear the student attire you wore during your senior year. You can spruce them by adding jewelry or trying a different hairstyle.

As time passes, you will be able to get an idea of the average college outfit ideas from the other students. You can never go wrong with denim, t-shirts, and comfortable shoes. You don’t need to go overboard to be presentable and put together.

Can You Wear Crop Tops In College?

While it is generally not considered appropriate in a professional environment, it is possible to wear crop tops on college campuses.

Spaghetti-strap tops, midriff shirts, tube tops, and tank tops are acceptable at pretty much any public university in America. If you’re comfortable that the straps on the undergarments worn are visible, then you can do so without fear of discipline.

Do you think dress codes are causing more harm than good? Watch the video below to find out:

What To Wear To A College Visit

When going to a college visit, make sure you dress comfortably; there’s bound to be a lot of walking.

Dress according to the weather. If it’s cold, ensure you are warm; if it’s raining, carry an umbrella.

Wear layers so that you can remove pieces of clothing if the day gets warm; the last thing you want is to be sweating and perspiring heavily during the visit.

A college visit outfit idea

A college visit outfit idea
Image Source: Pinterest

Whatever you wear should make you feel confident around new people. Go for sneakers or another type of comfortable shoe.

To finish up your outfit, style your hair or get a haircut; if you use makeup, remember to keep it minimal.

What To Wear To A College Interview

When attending a college interview, it is essential to avoid dressing too casually. Avoid jeans, sneakers, or t-shirts that are too graphic. Try and put together a smart, classy outfit; for the guys, wear khaki trousers, a button-down collared shirt, and smart shoes; you don’t need to wear a tie or a full suit.

A college interview outfit idea

College interview outfit girls
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest

A lovely smart top or blouse for women paired with pants or a skirt will work for a lady. If you have an appropriate casual dress, you can also wear it. You can contact your school administrator about ideal outfit options if you need more clarification about your options.

What To Wear To A College Graduation

When deciding what to wear to a college graduation, consider the color of the graduation robe. You will want to wear something that will not contrast too much with the robe but something you can still wear even after graduation.

College graduation outfit idea

Graduation dress ideas
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Graduation outfit idea for guys
Image Source: Pinterest

A business casual outfit with comfortable shoes is a great choice. You could wear a dress with comfortable heels or wedges because of all the standing and walking. A pair of trousers and a dressy top or blouse with easy-to-walk-in heels can also work.

For the guys, flat front chinos, dress pants with a button-down shirt paired with dark-colored shoes. Comfort is critical, especially if you’ll be sitting outside in the sun. If the event is indoors, you can wear a suit.

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What To Wear To A College Party

A college party is where you go to let loose, have fun and spend time with your friends, and you can wear what you want unless it’s a themed party with a specific dress code. At a party, you wear what you like and feel comfortable and confident.

If you decide to join a fraternity or sorority, you will likely need a few nice outfits to wear to formal events such as date parties. Considering that these are formal events, you should look sophisticated and classy.

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If you are daring and adventurous, you can try a style other than what you always wear. You can get inspiration and outfit ideas online and even experiment with varying makeup techniques and hairstyles.

College party outfit idea

College party outfit idea
Image Source: Pinterest

If you prefer to keep it casual, wear jeans, leggings, and t-shirts or a cute top, and wear a simple dress to a college event like a party.

What To Wear To A College Football Game

When going to a college football game, dress up casually and comfortably. Depending on the college’s location, warm clothing like sweaters, scarves, and jackets may be necessary. If you have a varsity jacket to wear, that’s even better.

College football game outfit idea

College football game outfit idea
Image Source: Pinterest

Shoes can make or break an outfit, and because there will be a lot of standing and cheering, make sure you wear comfortable shoes; if it’s muddy, go with boots. Jeans and t-shirts are okay, you can try incorporating your college colors, and if you want to switch up, you can wear other casual clothes that you would go out in.

What To Wear To A College Basketball Game

You can wear what you usually wear daily when attending a college basketball game. If you support a particular team, wear their colors or add something with their name or logo. If you have a college jersey, you can wear it as well.

It’s always nice to show your support for your school or favorite team; a college basketball game is the perfect place to do so. You can wear your team’s colors in many ways without going all out. Consider wearing a baseball cap with the school name, logo, or mascot. Or try wearing a t-shirt with the school’s name or in the team’s colors.

You can also pick up an item of clothing from the college store, like a hoodie or jacket with the school logo. Remember to accessorize too! A pair of sneakers, a baseball hat, and some sunglasses can all be fun additions to any outfit.

A basketball game is not where you wear formal wear; keep it simple and comfortable. Avoid wearing heels or suits and instead opt for casual clothing like jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers.


While most private schools and private colleges have uniform policies that include a grooming policy, most public colleges only have serious dress code enforcement if they violate safety requirements or expose private body parts.

Although dress codes may stipulate acceptable types of attire, they cannot differ based on students’ gender, race, religion, or other protected characteristics, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, citing civil rights law and the equal protection guarantee.

Remember that while you may dress as casually as you wish, dress codes at college are designed to provide a better learning environment.