The Ultimate Guide: What to Wear to Fashion School

Considering attending fashion school but unsure of what to expect or what to wear?

In this article, we cover everything from the curriculum to hands-on experience, as well as the importance of dressing for fashion school.

We provide tips on what to wear, including comfortable and functional clothing, dressing for the creative environment, and reflecting your personal style.

We also share what not to wear, such as inappropriate clothing and overly trendy outfits.

Stay tuned for valuable insights on choosing the perfect outfits for fashion school!

Key Takeaways:

  • Comfort and functionality are key when choosing outfits for fashion school.
  • Reflecting personal style is important, but dress for the creative environment.
  • Do your research, dress for the occasion and weather, and invest in quality basics and appropriate accessories.
  • What to Expect in Fashion School?

    What to expect in fashion school varies based on whether you are learning about the fashion industry, the art of fashion design, or technology’s role in modern fashion, and what roles you want to specialize in. Fundamental to all programs is a heavily practical focus. The exact studies will depend on the specific fashion school and degree you choose, but the following is a broad overview of what you can expect to be studying. Many schools fit a mix of different disciplines into their curriculums.

    Vocational Career: If you are specializing in a certain role within the industry, much of your time will be spent learning about these specific elements. This will include production skills such as sewing, pattern making, and fashion business lessons which include pricing, marketing, and supply chain management.

    Education Skills: Many offerings from universities focus more heavily on the theoretical aspects of the industry and design. This includes art and design history, corporate law and branding, marketing, and visual communication.

    Additionally, schools of fashion are often interdisciplinary, offering students the ability to study in partnership with other schools on campus. For example, Parsons has a partnership with its business school and offers students a dual degree in fashion and business administration.


    The curriculum of the fashion school will affect what to wear to fashion school. As a general rule, refer to the following clothing and personal care advice for the following studies:

    1. Fashion Design: Attire: According to the Fashion School Tutors, you should wear easily washed garments and be prepared for stains if you are in the fashion design industry. While the typical garment that a fashion designer should wear is something being made specifically for the designer. Hair: While typical hair design is unnecessary, short hair is often favored in male designers due to their ease of maintenance and frequent washing. Many male designers grow beards when they are not working for a longer period of time, as the beard provides a ‘plain canvas’ which can be drawn upon to understand the style of a painting. Shoes: Fashion designers are advised to wear closed-toed shoes of leather so their feet are protected while working. Safety gear: You may need protective eye equipment, gloves, and face masks when working with particular kinds of textiles or machinery, according to Entwistle Technical Group.

    Laboratory Fabrication and Dyeing: Fabrication and dyeing laboratory scientists are conducting experiments to explore various color mixtures and procedures to add special design effects to textiles. While conducting the tests, the research approach also enables them to forecast the success of the textiles they wish for. The majority of the garments should be wear-resistant and easily washable. For closed shoes, coveralls and a little head protection would be wise. Technical gloves, facemask, and aprons would also be necessary to help avoid discomfort, burns, inhalation, and splatter.

    Projects and Assignments

    Projects and assignments at fashion school are the core of most courses. Since every class, degree, and school may have different focuses and fashion education requirements, the nature of the work and the dress code likely changes across schools and within them.

    When we reached out to representatives at Parsons School of Design in New York City, interior designer, associate professor, and freshman course director Peter Johnson admitted that it was impossible to make broad generalizations – with the caveat that students everywhere love jeans.

    The emphasis on assignments and projects has students constantly working in labs. Half of their grade at both the undergraduate and master’s level tends to depend on these projects, with a given semester including anywhere from 3 to 10 projects per class. Lab work for projects tends to require students to follow safety and dress code rules. Students at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) suggest presenting a strong glamorous image on grauation day.

    Hands-on Experience

    In some classes, students will be handing materials such as fabrics, needles, threads, buttons, and sequins which could cause injuries. To this end, it is wise to wear as much clothing as necessary to minimize the chance that hands-on activities might result in cuts, punctures, or other injuries. For example, short sleeves and snug-fitting clothing to minimize the chance of a garment getting caught in equipment, proper shoes that cover the whole foot, long hair tied back and away from the face, and limited jewelry or other loose items are common sense when dressing for fashion school. These types of risks are covered during the WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) portion of fashion programs as required by Alberta’s OHS Act to maintain a safe work environment in the classroom.

    Importance of Dressing for Fashion School

    The Importance of Dressing for Fashion School is to show off one’s aesthetic sensibilities, promoting creativity and design excellence among peers and teachers. To show off one’s technical studies with well-draped and presented garments. To be incredible mannequins, promoting the brand and reputation of the school. Succeeding in getting a start in a competitive field through the valuable connections formed at a time when you are at your peak of physical attractiveness and are forming life habits.

    Fashion schools often have stiff, competitive admissions standards with limited enrollment, which means candidates will be vigorously examined for how they physically embody the brand. Skills in styling, choosing color schemes, silhouettes, draping fabrics, and accessorizing will be addressed with real-world rehearsal opportunities. Literally being a walking billboard for your school in the sense of spreading the message and ethos of the brand throughout the community.

    What to Wear to Fashion School?

    Wear what makes you feel confident and expresses your personal design sensibility at fashion school. You should of course always be clean and well-groomed. Business casual or smart casual are generally good guidelines to adhere to regardless of the school’s dress codes, as most schools will lean in the direction of this type of attire and it is what most teachers consider most acceptable for students. Additionally, it is necessary to be prepared with the proper attire and footwear to engage in design, textile and sewing projects in a course.

    Patterned tight and knit fabrics, as well as easy to remove kick-off shoes, jewelry, or belts as necessary, will allow you to move freely while practicing. Remember that fashion school is a great place to create personal connections and make a first impression in the highly competitive world of fashion. Your personal brand is not set in stone as a student, but making the right effort to introduce yourself in a positive manner is always beneficial.

    Comfortable and Functional Clothing

    You should wear whatever is comfortable and functional for both sitting in a classroom for 6+ hours and moving around to work on special projects. This could mean that you need a completely different wardrobe during the fall semester than you had during the spring semester. It will depend on the specific project that you are working on and what makes you feel good to be productive, while at the same time not being a distraction for others.

    Dressing for the Creative Environment

    Students at fashion school are expected to possess a unique sense of style. They are encouraged to express this individuality both personally and through their designs. Fashion students often wear suits with blouses and ties, dresses, unique shoes, scarves, and gloves that complete the outfit.

    Frida Giannini, a fashion director at Gucci, states that dressing for work does not mean that your extraordinary personality is hidden. Wearing a nice dress is lovely because it shows personality but its style should not overpower the room, it should be the base, she explains.

    Reflecting Personal Style

    According to Madison Frederick, a parsons fashion student, what you wear on the first day of college is crucial because it is the day that sets the tone for every other day. According to a survey on what college students wear conducted by the Council for Textile Recycling, polos, button-down shirts, and jeans are the most basic, most popular, and versatile choices on college campuses.

    Tips for Choosing Outfits for Fashion School

    When choosing an outfit for fashion school, consider the following tips. Think of the outfit as a uniform as multiple outfits will be needed. To save money and simplify the process, choose a core neutral color such as black, white, gray, or navy to maximize mix and match combinations across all seasons and present enough different appearances. This lets people know who you are and makes it easy for students to talk about both being individuals and having a fashion look.

    You should be comfortable and feel awesome in what you are wearing otherwise there isn’t any use to fashion. Incorporate items into the outfit that reflect one’s individuality whether that be color, pattern, texture or silhouette. Fit well and accentuate what is attractive. Layers are very important and they can create a lightweight-to-heavy look. The criteria are the same for accessories like shoes, scarves, jewelry, or handbags. Stick with a few key pieces that are practical, well made and represent one’s personal style.

    Research the Dress Code

    Research fashion school dress codes published by the administration. The dress code will often vary by location. Parsons, for example, has its main campus in New York City where there are no requirements. A pair of clean sneakers or boots, a skirt, and a fashionable top are appropriate for any meeting or class. On the other hand, its Paris campus requires business casual.

    Dress for the Occasion

    Dressing for the occasion means considering the setting you are in as well as the educational opportunity you are working to achieve. When dressing up, connect your clothing with the Yves Saint Laurent quote that reads fashions fade, style is eternal. This means you should express your personal style while still being respectful and dress clothes up or down based on the situation.

    When choosing clothes for fashion school, consider a casual dress, a blazer, flats, or sneakers for the type of wear. During summer months in the classroom, an airy dress like this one from online retailer Zara is a suitable option. If you want to keep your dress a bit more formal, add in a short blazer, one that hits the natural waist, like this option from Tom Ford.

    A casual every day look for men may include a clean white shirt, dress pants and comfortable trainers, like these Vans black slip-ons. If the setting is more formal, add a jacket and waistcoat, like this casual olive blazer and black waistcoat from Tom Ford.

    Consider the Weather

    As a fashion student going to school and home throughout the day, it is important to be prepared for varying weather conditions. Make sure your outfits are seasonally appropriate and include accessories such as hats, gloves, scarves and umbrellas even when they are not part of the primary outfit. In the northern hemisphere, the school year generally begins in the late summer and peaks in the winter making layering a good consideration. Paying attention to the local forecast prior to the school year will help you build versatile outfits. Here are the weather considerations highlighted on August 24th, 2021 from various countries throughout the northern hemisphere:

    1. Toronto, Canada: High of 24°C and Low of 14°C. Cloudy with some sun.
    2. Rome, Italy: High of 25°C and Low of 15°C with little sun. Considered solid warmth and rain season
    3. San Francisco, USA: High of 22°C and Low of 15°C. Some sun and solid cool, summer fog weather.
    4. Seoul, South Korea: High of 28°C and Low of 21°C. Cloudy warm rainy.
    5. Vladivostok, Russia: High of 23°C and Low of 15°C. Solidly sunny summer.

    For countries and students in the southern hemisphere, the school year generally peaks in the summer. Local weather forecasts will still dictate how you adjust your dressing requirements. In countries where seasons are more subdued, maintaining a versatile and layered wardrobe will help summon weather-related surprises.

    Invest in Quality Basics

    Instead of high-fashion staples, fashion majors should invest in elevated basics, as they can be reused countless times without ever becoming dated. Graduates like those mentored by the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Toyin Ajayi, who dress impeccably without breaking the bank ($200 designer sweatpants are an example), show the limitless potential of foundational wardrobe elements in keeping the student looking fresh throughout their degree. These quality basics are likely to cost more than mass-market versions but fashion discounts and careful shopping will keep the prices down.

    Accessorize Wisely

    Understand accessorizing is a tool another factor to consider when choosing what to wear to fashion school. Knowing what accessories to mix and match is both an art and a science. Students looking for a classy look will find belts, earrings, bracelets, hats, or shawls invaluable. Others may choose to accessorize using classic items such as stripes and military-style adornments, while some may wish to utilize buttons and snaps.

    What Not to Wear to Fashion School?

    Here are things you should not wear to fashion school:

    1. Shoes without sawdust/torchon soles: This list would not be complete without shoes. High-heel standard rubber, polyurethane, or plastic soles make noise. This is bad according to The College Adviser for NY Post Susan Cain, who says to avoid clashing with the professors’ speaking or outside guest presenters when walking late into the classroom.
    2. Plastic soles perfect for loud walking: Unless you know that a quiet shoe sole will impact you in some negative way, there is not much else that is hurtful about inappropriate shoe soles. Do not wear them please.
    3. Mother-of-the-bride outfit: It is fine to wear layered and low contrast mom clothing styles (do buzzwords count?) when you are older than 50 according to Wardrobe Dysautonomy Expert Lisa Brown. This is because the layered look helps to hide the bloating menopause can cause. But do not go full mother of the bride.
    4. Romantic flouncy pieces: This one applies to younger generations. If you are under 50 years old, donning outfits that are too flouncy will give the wrong impression before you even begin your presentation. Professor Jeannie Oakes from the University of California, Los Angeles, who has served more than two decades as a researcher, research director, and university professor in the School of Education commented for a whole other subject that unfortunately, first impressions do make a difference.
    5. Military attire: On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoid clothing that looks like a military uniform. This decorations-free attire no longer looks feminine no longer looks feminine according to Japanese image consultant Anne Muto.
    6. Subcultural clothing: Like military uniforms, it is best to leave any goth, lolita, and comparable alternative fashion styles at home.

    Inappropriate Clothing

    Inappropriate clothing includes Yoga pants and sweatpants according to Lynn Boorady, the interim dean of Buffalo State’s College of Liberal Arts. Open-toed shoes and flip-flops are also strictly forbidden at most fashion schools, which is why these universities often mandate certain footwear in their dress code. Almost all colleges across the US will not accept men in dresses or crop tops and women stripped to the waist.

    Overly Trendy Outfits

    Trendy outfits are not recommended as part of fashion students’ daily wear because they have been styled to mimic what they see on the market from global brands. Too many overly trendy items can become cliché and uninspired, which are cardinal sins in fashion. Instead of looking like one big commercial for H&M or Zara, these creators of fashion should aim to create something slightly out of sync with what the market is saying is trending.

    Revealing Clothing

    Your faculty or on-campus advisor will be able to provide you with the school’s recommended dress code guidelines if any are necessary. This information can also be found on your school’s website. In general, fashionable, comfortable, and appropriate attire is what should be worn. Revealing clothing is to be avoided at most social institutions, so this means skirts and shorts that are too short, plunging necklines, and short-sleeved to sleeveless tops should be minimized. Some revealing designed clothing may be acceptable, but avoid wearing it as a complete ensemble.

    Often revealing outfit examples are criticized, specifically when they are designed by brands that are commonly referred to as having minimal aesthetics such as Aritzia or Urban Outfitters. Revealing clothing can be an impediment at fashion schools. At Marist College‘s Fashion School for instance there is so much studio time that while it is not prohibited they advise against do to the idea of everyone at the school being in ‘designer mode’. When your peers are your colleagues rather than just students it suggests a different etiquette that is more professional. This professional environment is encouraged at Fashion Institute of Technology which advises that “strong contrasts [in the student dress code] between students attire which conveys a serious vs. a social/distraction feel can be observed in common experience and research.

    Beginners at Fashion Retail Academy or Parsons School of Design may not realize how important clear and comfortable communication of creative ideas is during excess studio time before their first project is checked.

    Uncomfortable Shoes

    Do not wear uncomfortable shoes to fashion school. Though many areas have a dress code that may prescribe professional attire such as a full suit or business casual to be worn to classes, these dress codes never insist on high heels or any type of uncomfortable footwear, for good reason.

    For many if not most jobs in the fashion industry, professionals are required to spend a considerable amount of time on their feet, whether working a show or store or even completing long days in their own studio. For the sake of the legs and back, it is important to build up to wearing heels, and rather wear court shoe styles that have more support.

    Refinery29 cited pulmonologist Dr. Megan Gluhanich in 2001 as saying that ‘If you always wear shoes that are too tight fitting, you increase your risk of corns. Wearing shoes that press your toes together could also set you up for long-term problems, such as bunions, foot deformities, and chronic foot pain.’ Plus her prognosis, she also states that ‘Some research suggests that high heels could be why three out of four women have foot pain later in life.’

    Even if you dress professionally for the fashion college, there are comfortable dress shoes that can still demonstrate a solid fashion sense and personal style, so there is no reason to fall back on wearing uncomfortable shoes.


    Here’s what to wear to fashion school in conclusion. Wear clothes appropriate to the environment of the fashion school you choose. Studies range from casual to quite formal depending on the institution.

    Patterns, classic pieces, and composition in clothing choice can add some fashion flair to help convey enthusiasm about fashion school. Here are some general dressing tips for attending fashion school as recommended by universities, students, and industry professionals. Dress the way you want to be addressed. Look up the dress code. Stick to the dress code but chance it up sometimes. Add on extra articles of clothing to see if it changes the office energy. Dry run your clothing choices. Find a mentor. Color the coordinates. Fashion is a big concern at fashion school, but make sure your outfit is golocalist brand compliant. If you go to school in a city or a cold climate, the kind of school outfit to put together should consider winter concerns and when you are enjoying your free time.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What to Wear to Fashion School?

    Fashion school is a place where you can express your creativity through your personal style. Here are some tips on what to wear to fashion school.

    What are some essential fashion pieces for fashion school?

    Some essential fashion pieces for fashion school include a good pair of jeans, a blazer, a little black dress, and statement accessories.

    How should I choose my fashion school outfits?

    Choose outfits that reflect your personal style and make you feel confident. Fashion school is a place where you can experiment and be yourself, so don’t be afraid to take risks with your outfits.

    Are there any fashion rules I should follow in fashion school?

    Fashion is all about breaking rules, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Make sure your outfit is appropriate for the occasion, and always wear comfortable shoes since you will be walking around a lot.

    Can I wear the same outfit more than once in fashion school?

    Of course! Fashion school can be expensive, and it’s not necessary to have a new outfit every day. Mix and match your clothing to create new looks, and don’t be afraid to repeat your favorite pieces.

    What should I avoid wearing to fashion school?

    It’s best to avoid overly revealing or offensive clothing. Also, steer clear of wearing head-to-toe designer labels, as it may come off as trying too hard. Fashion school is about being creative, so don’t be afraid to mix high-end pieces with more affordable items.

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