The Style File: College Couture 101

USF student Addysen Trumper shows off her closet full of trendy goods while explaining how to stay stylish this school year.  Picture by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn
USF student Addysen Trumper shows off her closet full of trendy goods while explaining how to stay stylish this school year. Picture by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

I would like to start this year’s “Style File” with my hat off to all of you. Yes, I may reveal a little ‘hat hair’ but as I sat in Harney Plaza the first week of school, fierce style came alive before my eyes.  USF is a school of diversity and after noticing your back-to-school fashion choices, I conclude that we are also a college of individuals.

I encourage you to walk out the door for class in four-inch heels while working the awesome faux fur around your neck,  or don your vintage jeans with converse, or even a sweatshirt and comfy sweat pants, whatever makes you feel your best and most confident.  There is no style uniform at USF, so feel free to explore any trend that comes your way.  Let your college couture be about who you are inside, and sport what feels right.

Going to college has a major fashion perk for all of us fashionistas.  We get two New Years: The first day of school and day one of 2010.  On both occasions we have a major and reasonable excuse to revamp our look.  However, the problem is that most of us do not have the closet space to spread out and evaluate our outfit selections to make the most of every fabulous garment that we have.

I have had a lot of practice cramming my extensive wardrobe into a tiny space. After living in the dorms for two years, my clothes were begging for breathing room.  After finding an apartment that was right for me, I sharply realized that I didn’t even have a closet, as I am living in the converted living room.  Not to fret, though, my fashionable people, creative wardrobes mean creative minds.  I would like to offer you a few suggestions on how to make the most of your space, whether you are kicking it in a cramped dorm or nesting in a confined apartment.  Just follow these steps and in no time all your fashion garb will have a chance to make this year’s college debut.  So pick a rainy day with aProject Runway” marathon, hunker down and give your back to school look an organizational kick.

Step One:  Edit Basics

There are two good major parts to every wardrobe: your basics that you wear at least four times a month and your flair that make your basics look, well, not basic. Everyone’s basics are different. For me, I have two pairs of jeans (one straight, one boot cut), four different colored solid shirts, two very simple, yet different, black dresses, a leather jacket, a blazer, and my signature “Addysen necklace.”  These items are a very important part of my style even though they do not define my individuality.

Believe me; you do not need seven pairs of jeans, four black shirts and three khaki skirts. If you edit your essentials, you will have more room to hang up your personality pieces that define your look. Take a step back and decide what your basics are, then keep one of each color. That is all you need.  Stick to what fits your body well, this is important because if your fundamentals don’t fit right, the whole outfit looks askew.

Step Two: Rotate

I have a secret to share. I come back to school after a relaxing Christmas break vacation at my home in Colorado with a whole ‘new’ looking wardrobe. I cheat. I simply rotate. Half of the year, I keep a large part of my flair pieces in my closet at home.  This way I have loads more room in my school closet and I also feel like I had a major shopping spree twice a year, but without the budget drain.

Take advantage of the free storage space that mom and dad guard. For example, I have a few very full tutu skirts that fulfill my ballerina wannabe dreams. I always keep one at home and one at school (two tutus seems to take up a lot of space). When I reacquaint myself with tutu #2, it represents a change of season, and a different fantasy ballet routine.

Step Three: Be Smart Step

Organization is key when it comes to the tiny opening in the wall that the dorms identify as a closet. However, as soon as you get a system going, it will feel like you are unlocking a closed-off world every time you slide the door open. Start by putting all the same types of clothing together. Then organize them so that all of the short clothes descend into the long clothes left to right (or right to left, whichever you prefer). Underneath the short clothes you can put all of your shoes or a box full of scarves and hats. This system will allow you to see all your clothes in categories so you will not be rummaging through your closet 15 minutes before class trying to find that great blue top.

The type of hanger that you use can make a big difference as well. The thinner the hanger, the more room you will have. Also try hangers that can fit more than one piece of clothing. For instance, all of my pants are hanging on a device that holds six pairs vertically. It takes up the space that two typical pant hangers would. Another trick to try is filling your empty suitcase with extra pieces that are seasonal or your shoes and slide it back under your bed.  Don’t be afraid to change things around according to what is not working.  It can also be a very therapeutic process. My clothes and I have shared some fun times with me buried neck-deep in them trying to figure out where to put my belts.

Step Four: Decorate

Like I mentioned earlier, the space that I am living in now does not include a closet. When I first moved in, I was sure that it was fashion suicide until I realized that there is nothing better to decorate with than my clothes. Now every morning I wake up to two racks of clothes hanging peacefully next to my bed. Like people, clothes don’t always belong in the closet.

Clothes can also be a great conversation piece. If you have a marvelous vintage swing coat with a mink trim, display it! Let it hang on your bed post or a coat rack near your door. Hats are also a great display piece. They can be the perfect accessory to an outfit and to your bookshelf. Be creative with your clothing display. As long as your garments aren’t lying on the floor, there is no reason that you can’t build your own exhibit of your mobile personality pieces.

I always dream of the day when I will move into a place that has Carrie’s closet that Big built for her. But ‘til that day, I will rock with what I have.  If you have any closet organizational needs and would like a helping hand, or have any style questions in general, let me know!  Email me at and we can arrange a style session. In the mean time I hope to see fabulous, daring, inspiring and most of all, individual fashion statements around campus! Style on, Dons!


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