College Compass: Fashion advice for student life

College Compass is a bi-weekly blog that aims to help students navigate the highs and lows of college life.

More stories from Sarah Stager


TPN File Photo

Thriftsburgh is a student-operated thrift store located in the O’Hara Student Center.

Fall is prime time for fashion — finally, you can go outside without sweating through your jeans or wear that cozy sweater you got way back in June when fall seemed like a distant and beautiful mirage. But fall is also prime time for stress, especially as we enter the second half of the semester. It’s not always easy to look put together when you’re lugging heavy bags beneath both eyes and have a million and one assignments to complete before the end of the day. Not to worry — I’ve compiled this list of fashion tips, specifically tailored for student life, so that you can roll up to your 8 a.m. looking like you didn’t just roll out of bed.

Widen your horizons

When you want to look stylish while still feeling comfy, wide-legged pants are your best friends. They cinch in your waist, but flare out from there, giving you plenty of freedom so you can make full use of your legs when you hike up the seemingly endless hill to Chevron. Denim wide-legged pants are a classic choice, but going for a different material can make these pants into an instant statement. I have a faux-velvet pair — because let’s be real, none of us can afford the real thing — and even though they appear super dressy, they basically feel the same as sweatpants. You can balance out the flare with a more fitted top, or you can embrace the flowy look with a larger top tucked in at the waist.

Embrace your inner turtle

For those times when you feel like retracting back into your shell to avoid all the assignments that your professors are constantly flinging at you, just throw on a turtleneck. It’ll instantly make you look and feel like an adult, and perhaps even grant you the strength to finally crank out that 10-page essay due tomorrow. Plus, most turtlenecks are soft and warm, perfect for braving the brisk fall weather — you’ll never have to worry about your neck getting cold! I recommend wearing your favorite turtleneck with high-waisted mom jeans to complete the motherly aesthetic.


If you ever just want to throw on an outfit without thinking too hard about it, you can use the twist-and-tuck method to add a little interest to even the most basic T-shirt and jeans look. Simply take the bottom corner of your T-shirt, twist it around your hand once or twice, then tuck the twisted bit into your pants, leaving the rest loose. You may have to fiddle around with it a bit to get the appropriate amount of slouch, but once you get it right, this method can create flattering lines that really accentuate your waistline.

Just add jewelry

Even the most casual outfit can be elevated to elegance with just the addition of a simple necklace or pair of earrings. Even though jewelry takes about two seconds to throw on, it really gives off the impression that you have your life together even when that’s far from the truth. Unlike clothing, you also don’t have to change it up every day. I’ve been wearing the same necklace 24/7 since the beginning of the semester, even though it’s sometimes hidden beneath a turtleneck, and that makes it just one less thing to think about. You could do the same with almost any other piece of jewelry, though you may be tempting fate if you leave particularly dangly earrings in for too long.

Thrift it up

The broke college student is a stereotype for a reason, but lack of dough isn’t a problem at thrift stores. Yes, the store may smell a little musty, yes, the changing room floors may be mysteriously sticky and yes, you may have to sift through rows upon rows of soccer mom T-shirts. But it will all be worth it when you happen upon a beautifully fitting pair of jeans — for only $4.99! Thrifting is cheap, fun and environmentally friendly — what’s not to love? Though there are plenty of thrift shops lined up along East Carson Street in the South Side — including the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange and Three Rivers Vintage, if you’re feeling especially posh — we also have our own homegrown thrift shop at Pitt. The University of Thriftsburgh, located in the O’Hara Student Center, is run by students, and all the clothing is donated by students. I would highly recommend checking it out if you don’t want to devote an entire day to thrifting. Keep in mind you can pay for your purchases with credit you gain from donating clothing.

Find your own style

These tips are just from my very limited perspective as a young lady who tends to favor more formal looks, and your sense of style might be totally different from mine. You can pick and choose what tips of mine you’d actually like to follow, if any, but also don’t be afraid to express your own individual preferences. The whole point of fashion is to have fun wearing clothing that make you feel good.