Packing for college is kind of like trying to pretend your whole life can suddenly be compressed and folded snugly into a faded suitcase. It's the time when you finally realize that you'll probably never wear your seventh-grade skort again, and that the high school sweatshirt that's always blended in will suddenly distinguish you in a sea of students wearing Dartmouth green. Packing is when you have to decide what exactly is going to transfer well into a new school with a whole new dress code. So let's get down to business what do we really wear at Dartmouth?
The first layer of your suitcase should consist entirely of athletic clothes. You'll notice the second you walk on campus that everyone seems to be training for a pentathlon. You'll see 25 people running during your walk from the library to the Green, and finding a treadmill with a TV at the gym is a vicious battle. So the first step to dressing Dartmouth is to slap on some running shorts. Even if you don't go to the gym (and trust me, I never go to the gym) the look is half the battle.
Dig up that flannel that was in style two years ago. It's always in at Dartmouth. When we're not running marathons, students are chopping down trees or hiking the highest peaks of New Hampshire. And you can't hike if you're not cozy and flannelled accordingly.
If you want to blend in with everyone and their mother, there are a couple of staples. Hunter boots are everywhere regardless of whether rain is in the forecast. J. Crew shorts are more common than backpacks. And it is a freshman rite of passage to have your black North Face jacket stolen at a frat. Just make sure you don't blitz out to campus about it the next day.
Fellas, the Dartmouth man often looks like a Kentucky Derby fan who got lost in the woods. Pastel shorts, button-downs and Sperry shoes work no matter what the occasion, and, of course, can be mixed in every other day with your athletic shorts and tattered flannel.
Then there are frackets and frat shoes. Jackets go like hot cakes when you visit frats, and yours will almost definitely get stolen by someone who has "Omg the exact same one, did you get it at WalMart?!" So it's best to wear a cheap, distinctive looking coat that has no sentimental value. Frat shoes are how you shield your feet from the mysterious substance that coats the floors of every fraternity basement you visit. Some old Converse-styled shoes tend to do the trick.
And then there's flair. If there's one type of clothing that best summarizes what it means to arrive at this crazy place, it's flair. Any wacky, silly, ridiculous and mind-numbingly unattractive piece of clothing you own is perfect. Pack up your mom's prom dress with the shoulder pads, six feather boas, your sombrero and hey, maybe even that skort from the seventh grade. The stranger you look, the better.
Once your suitcase is packed, it's time to take out the things that you should never, under any circumstances, bring to Dartmouth. There are certain clothing items that you'll never see in the streets of Hanover and are best left to savor during trips home.
Ladies, don't bring a purse. Bringing a purse is the exact same thing as losing a purse. It will definitely get accidentally stolen after it's been thoroughly trampled on. Put your ID and phone in your pocket, and that's all you'll need.
Next, throw away your heels. Even if the princess of Asturias decides to come during Orientation to throw an inaugural ball, you won't see a single student in high-heeled shoes. The ground is too muddy, the frats are too dirty and it's too much effort to traipse through the snowy winters with eight-inch pumps. Which brings me to my next point...
Don't put in too much effort. At Dartmouth, it's best not to try too hard when it comes to the way you dress. There's no need to spend hours getting ready to go out, and no need to put on layers of makeup and jewelry. One of the greatest things about Dartmouth is that so few people care what you choose to wear. So don't wear anything you don't love, and don't try so hard to wear what you think others expect you to. I don't own Hunters, a North Face or a single J. Crew item.
Once you've ordered a neon yellow fracket off of Amazon, take a deep breath. Dartmouth is amazing because, frankly, no one really cares what you wear. But seriously, no heels.