Maybe you’ve never seen snow before and will be spending the next four years at a college in the Northeast. Perhaps you expect sub-zero temperatures in December, but are headed to a college in California or Georgia. Before you head off to your new second home, make sure you pack some key items to help you adjust to your new climate.
Headed to: Northeast and Midwest
Meet winter—a beast with which you will become intimately acquainted. To the uninitiated, it can be intimidating, especially since there’s so much new gear to buy.
In the Northeast, winter sets in gradually. It may be sweltering when you move in (many buildings don’t have air conditioning, so pack accordingly!), but by October, the weather cools off considerably. Be prepared to bundle up to walk to class every morning for several months during the dead of winter. To counter the elements outside, buildings may be very warm, so be sure to layer.
The same applies to the Midwest, with some unpredictability thrown in. The region is known for its occasionally erratic weather, so be sure to check the weather and pack for a variety of climate possibilities.
Pieces you’ll need:
A winter coat: Wool is a stylish option, but a sportier North Face may provide more warmth and keep you dry. Check out a ski shop or an outdoors retailer like REI for a range of options.
Snow boots: Cold, wet feet are no fun. Slogging through slush is more tolerable with a pair of sturdy boots. While snow boots will keep you warm, a pair of rain boots with thick socks is a great alternative. Brands like Sorel are known for their snow boots, but if you’re looking for more stylish options, try Hunter’s Wellies or even Target for classic and cute options.
Gloves and hat: Keep your extremities insulated. Look for fabric that will block the wind. Again, outdoors stores are great places to find performance gear.
Scarves: Functional and stylish, these are a great way to add variety to your winter gear. Stock up in different colors, patterns and textures. Stores like Marshalls carry many affordable options.
Tights and leggings: Great for extending the life of your warm weather wardrobe with layering. For super-cold days, they can also do double duty as an extra layer if you wear them under your pants. Target carries affordable options while American Apparel is great for trendier fabrics like velvet.
Headed to: South and West
Welcome to paradise, at least compared to the more wintry regions. During the school year, you may be lucky enough to experience relatively temperate weather.
In the South, be prepared for oppressive heat and humidity at the beginning and end of the school year. The upside of this deal is that you get mild winters—cold, but with a smaller chance of snow.
Out west, the proximity to water helps moderate the temperature. Nights may be cool, but you won’t have to worry about blizzards. Particularly in the southern parts of the region, beware of heat and humidity.
Pieces you’ll need:
Mid-weight jacket: No need for puffy ski jackets or performance outerwear here, but you’ll still want to stay warm. Choose from a wide assortment of stylish options. Uniqlo and Gap are just a few stores that carry lightweight blazers and trench coats.
Cardigans or light hoodies: For those days when the weather can’t decide, throw on a light layer or stash it in your bag just in case. You can find a variety of styles available at stores like Gap and J. Crew.
Layering shirts: Thin, long-sleeved thermals under a T-shirt are great for adding extra warmth. You can find performance versions at outdoors retailers like REI or Sports Authority, but any long-sleeved shirt will do the job.
Tights and leggings: Perfect for squeezing more use out of warm weather clothes on cooler days. American Apparel is the best place to find a variety of colorful, durable options.
Last modified: April 4, 2010