OU Essentials

Ah, a new school year. In addition to 17 trips to Walmart and discovering the joys of a meal plan, many Freshmen have another question lurking in their brains: what does everyone wear to class?!

The days of uniforms and strict dress codes are gone, but that does not mean it’s socially acceptable to wear pajamas to class or an OU t-shirt 4 days out of the week.  Wearing heels and teasing your hair before 9:00 am class is pretty unnecessary, but having a little pride in your appearance is crucial for a) personal expression, b) impressing your new friends, and c) letting your professors know you aren’t a slob.

I’ve compiled a list of the essentials in a wardrobe for an OU student. Not only are these items functional, but they are socially acceptable in all settings and walks of life (notice how Uggs, and hair bows didn’t make the cut). Though these items aren’t exactly haute couture, their practicality outweighs the fact that the people walking across the crosswalk, sitting next to you in class and handing out flyers in the South Oval are probably rocking the same gear.

Shoes Made for Walking

Long walks around the North Oval and frolicking through the Passion Pit will be exponentially less satisfying if your feet are blistered. I hear you ladies, I like to look good, but taking baby steps in high heels just isn’t the most efficient means of travel. Flip flops and gladiator sandals make nice alternatives, but once the cool air kicks in, those babies have got to go. I recommend investing in a stylish yet practical pair of casual shoes that will carry you through all seasons.

The most popular choice among OU students would be a tan pair of Sperry Top Siders. These boat shoes will undoubtedly appear on the feet of at least 30% of any given classroom. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out a navy or army green colored pair. Non-conformists and the uber-trendy will opt for a pair of Vans or Converse, or maybe a pair of old-school high tops.  Girls in Nike shorts will often wear pair of those fancy sneakers that promise to melt away cellulite to class, and another popular option is a conscience-friendly pair of Toms.

Rain Gear

Gone are the glory days of high school, where awnings from building to building were plentiful. When it rains in Norman, it POURS—I’m talking flooding, humidity, and seemingly endless downpour. Investing in an anorak and a good pair of rain boots is one investment you will never regret.

If you’re in a sorority, you’ll most likely receive a handy anorak along with the many other gifts you’ll receive (ah, the joys of being a new member). For the rest of us, there are plenty of stylish options apart from Paddington Bear’s classic yellow ensemble. Target is my favorite place to pick up rainy day goodies. They’re sure to have a wide variety of boots and jackets available at a fair price.


In Soonerland, the sun always shines—unfortunately, that can mean directly in your eyes at 8:00 am after a long night of studying (or other activities we’ll not mention).  The great thing about OU’s culture is that when it comes to sunglasses, the price does not directly correlate with its “cool” factor.  Yes, a pair of Ray Ban wayfarers make a great investment piece, but those neon plastic sunglasses handed out to promote the Cottages, from the kiosk at Sooner Mall, and sold by that IBC company last year all are excellent alternatives.

Wayfarer styled sunglasses have been OU’s top choice the last few years, but a trusty pair of aviators, those huge sunnies worn by wafer-thin celebrities, and anything plastic and colorful have all been seen around campus. Don’t leave home without a pair!

Spirit Gear

Sporting events, rallies, and good ole’ Sooner Spirit calls for a little OU attire in every student’s closet. The great thing about this OU Essential is that it will probably cost you no money to acquire a large collection. Start with the t-shirt, hat, coffee mug, and foam finger your parents bought you when your admissions letter arrived, add the free t-shirt you get during enrollment, plus the swag you pick up during SOW and Howdy Week, and in no time you will have a large variety.

Seen those cute dresses you see girls rocking on game days with their cowboy boots? Pick up a large or extra large t-shirt from well, any retailer in the greater Norman area, and take it to Kim’s Alterations on Main Street. For less than it costs to catch dinner and a movie, you can attend football games in style. Combine this Essential and the aforementioned one and invest in a pair of OU sunglasses.  The football stadium was engineered specifically to blind every individual in the student section as the sun sets, so this is one accessory you won’t want to leave at home.


Inevitably, once a semester everyone experiences a “hell” week—every class you’re in will schedule a midterm, project, or paper all due within the span of 3 or 4 days. In times like these, your appearance is (and should be) the last thing on your mind. However, this is absolutely no excuse for going out in public in a) patterned pajama pants, b) those fleece sweatpants with elastic around the ankles, or c) without brushing your teeth. I certainly do not endorse wearing leggings as pants, but even rocking that look is better than rolling into Dale hall in a pair of fuzzy bunny slippers. No matter how comfortable you might be, there are certain articles of clothing that should never see the light of day. Ever.

Pictured are some great alternatives that are both comfortable and will keep you from looking ridiculous in front of your new friends. Yoga pants can be found at Target, Walmart, or American Eagle for great prices. These cotton pants cling to all the right places while still remaining casual and cozy. Nike shorts are a popular option for the ladies on campus. They come in every color combination, but can be a bit on the pricey side. Look for them in Nike outlet shops for a better bargain.

American Apparel v-necks are spotted all over campus, but you can find more affordable alternatives at Target or Walmart. Shop for these tees in your hometown; Haines V-Necks 3 packs are perpetually out of stock at Norman area superstores.

Have a trusty baseball cap for those days you wake up 5 minutes before your class all the way in Sarkeys, and keep a lightweight cardigan in your backpack at all times. You’re paying good money for your tuition here, and OU likes to remind us of that by keeping classrooms around 62 degrees Fahrenheit.


The heat may be atrocious now, but in a matter of weeks the temperature out in Sooner Nation will drastically change. Oklahoma is home to arctic winds, temperatures well below freezing, and at least one dramatic ice storm a year. Start saving now for a good quality winter coat. Sporty brands like North Face, Colombia, and Patagonia rule the campus, but I personally prefer the look of a nice peacoat or classic trench. This is not an area you’ll want to skimp on—the fluffier the coat, the cozier you’ll be.

Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need while at OU (last I checked, underwear and pants are still necessary pieces) this list should get you through the school year with both function and style.


What items in your closet would you consider essential? Do you own everything on this list? What items would you recommend buying to meet their sartorial needs? Sound off with a comment!

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2 Responses to OU Essentials

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