As it’s half-way through the year and a new crop of IES students are soon to be arriving in Dublin, I figured now would be the opportune time to do a write-up of what (feminine – sorry, I really can’t speak for most guys here) clothing items a student might want to have. Some of these things are better purchased in Dublin, however, for the sake of your luggage weight if nothing else, so this is divided into three parts: What to Bring, What to Buy Here, Just Don’t Do It.
As far as being a student at Trinity, I’d say: dress nicely, relatively conservatively, and for cold/windy weather. What this means is, basically, don’t wear sweats or pajamas to class (chances are you’re going to have to walk through town to get to college anyway). You can wear jeans, but pair them with a nice blouse, cardigan, or jumper. Most of the women at college wear dresses or skirts paired with black tights and low heels or boots at least some of the time.
Of course, this is just based off observations I’ve made on what works for me, the people I know, and what I see on a daily basis around town and at college. You do you, obviously, and no one’s going to chuck you out of class for wearing jeans and a hoodie, but these are some guidelines for people who’d like to fit into the general climate. IES also has a master packing list that has more suggestions.
One other thing to take into consideration is that if you don’t have a washing machine in your flat, you’re going to have to go to a Laundromat. And they can be expensive. In Halls I pay €4 (which is a tremendous rip off, even for Ireland) for one wash of clothes. With that in mind, you’re going to want to bring clothes that you can wear in multiple combinations and stretch out as long as possible.
What to Bring:
One or two casual dresses/skirts While it’s fine for women to wear trousers or jeans to college, most wear either dresses or skirts at least some of the time. For college, I’d say the rule is the same as in most high schools: the hem is no more than an inch higher than the tips of your fingers if they’re at your sides (more like half an inch if you’re short, but I’m 5’8″ and that general rule appears to work for me). If skirts and dresses aren’t your thing, no problem. See below…
One or two pairs of dark wash or black jeans Someone once told me that nobody at Trinity wears jeans. That’s definitely not the case, although I will say that they tend to be worn with more…mmm, how’d you say it?… class, than I frequently saw in the States. Regardless of whether or not you like wearing dresses or skirts, sometimes they’re really not practical. It can get very windy here, and I don’t know about you, but I very quickly get tired of feeling paranoid. Dark wash or black jeans paired with a nice blouse or jumper are a good cold/windy day alternative to dresses and skirts. They’re also a lot more comfortable for travelling long distances by bus or train.
One or two nice jumpers To go with jeans or dresses/skirts.
One or two nice blouses/shirts (more like three to five if you don’t think you’ll buy anything here) Ditto above
One outfit for parties Be it a dress or a combination of nice trousers and a top, you’ll want something to wear if you should decide to go to a fancy soc event or to get inside some night clubs, pubs, or restaurants which have strict dress codes. (Side note! “Fancy dress” in Irish and British speak does not mean “dressy” or “nice”, it means “costumes.” So if someone invites you to a fancy dress party, you’d better not go wearing a ball gown unless you’re prepared to claim you’re a Disney Princess of some kind.)
Rainproof coat w/hood It rains here. A lot. And it’s also windy, especially – it seems – in the winter, which means that an umbrella’s just going to get turned inside out or try to tug you into traffic. Also, if everyone on the pavement has an umbrella, someone’s going to lose an eye (Grafton Street is a nightmare when it’s raining). Having a rainproof coat with a hood is indispensable.
One nice coat If you’d rather not wear your plastic raincoat everywhere, bring a nice coat that will go with whichever outfit you have to wear to parties or dressy events.
Pyjamas! I forgot mine, so I speak from experience here. Remember them.
One pair sturdy flats/low heels Athletic sneakers are generally a no-go at Trinity with anything other than workout gear. Tennis shoes might be okay with jeans, but they’ll get wet very quickly. Having flats or low heels (this includes boots) will both go along with any nice clothes you wear to college and not cause you to break your ankle walking across campus. The flagstones that cover the vast majority of the walkways are very uneven and I’ve seen people in high heels trip and fall more times than I can count. As a bonus, airport security is a lot easier if you don’t have to untie your shoes.
Underclothes I feel like this is self-explanatory. Remember to bring enough socks, though. You’d be surprised how quickly you can run through them.
Sunglasses Believe it or not, you will actually need them; especially if you have class in the morning.
Workout clothes Including sneakers, if you think you’re going to go running or use the gym on a regular basis. They’re very expensive here, so bring them with you from home.
What to Buy Here:
Optional: dresses, skirts, blouses, jumpers, trousers/jeans, boots/flats In addition to the ones you’ve already brought with you, because Dublin has a wealth of fashion options and you may find your tastes change once you become exposed to them. In addition to high street stores like H&M, Oasis, Forever21, and New Look, and thrift shops like Oxfam or St. Vincents, Ireland has a department store chain called Penneys (my personal downfall) which boasts a fantastic in-house fashion line called Atmosphere, which is both inexpensive and extensive. If you even think that you might end up buying clothes in Ireland, leave some room in your suitcase. You can always donate what you don’t want to St. Vincents or Oxfam when you leave.
Black tights Regardless of whether or not you’ll want to wear dresses or skirts, black tights are a must. If you will be wearing dresses/skirts you’ll need them to wear underneath. I have never seen anyone wearing skin coloured tights here; I’ve barely seen anyone without tights (except for people going clubbing). Everyone wears black. If you won’t be wearing dresses/skirts you can still use the tights as an extra layer to wear under your jeans or trousers. I’m not kidding when I say it can get very windy and cold here; having tights on can help insulate some more against the bite. You can get these really cheap at Penneys or Dunnes.
Umbrella They’re a pain to go through airport security with, so don’t bother. You can get them for €5 at Dunnes.
Gloves, scarf, hat Again, they’re cheap, and if you don’t have them already in the States because you come from somewhere warm, don’t bother trying to hunt them down there. You can get full matching sets at Penneys or Dunnes for under €10.
Boots And I don’t necessarily mean rain boots. Honestly, I don’t really think you need them. It does rain here, but the water is rarely so settled that you’d ever be tromping through puddles on a regular basis. If you get here and feel you want them, you can get them at Penneys for cheap. Or you can do what I did and buy a pair of nice combat boots, or boots with a thick heel, which both keep your feet out of low-lying water and hold up against a lot of walking or even hiking. I got mine at Penneys for €20 in September and I’ve worn them pretty much every day since.
Accessories Not to be the spokesperson for Penneys or anything, but they do have a ton of accessories of all shapes and sizes for very cheap and since bracelets and necklaces can be heavy or a royal pain to pack, if you want them, get them here.
Lint roller Not technically a piece of clothing, but indispensable nevertheless. You can get them pretty much anywhere that sells clothes for under €5.
Just Don’t Do It:
High heels I touched on this a bit earlier, but I’m going to say it again: don’t do it. They’ll take up a lot of room in your luggage and then you’ll get here and realise that wearing them is just asking to be sent to the hospital. You can just as easily wear nice flats or low heels or boots to college or clubs and not risk snapping your ankle. If you’re physically attached to yours and must bring them or else, all I can say is that if you wear them at college you’d better be prepared to walk slowly and look down the whole time.
Really fad-y clothing If it’s something that you can be reasonably sure you’re going to be embarrassed to wear within a month and a half, don’t bring it with you. It might be fashionable now, but it’s taking up space in your suitcase and if you stop wearing it half-way through your time here it’s just another extraneous thing.
Anything that works out to more than 1 with this formula: # of items in suitcase/# of times specific item will be worn This goes with the above. Don’t bring anything you’re not going to wear a lot. You have to pack pretty light, so bringing things worn very rarely is not an efficient use of your space. This also goes for buying clothes in Dublin: cost of item/number of times worn – you set what you think is reasonable, but on a student budget I wouldn’t buy anything which came out to more than €1.50 with that formula.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hannah Vose is a University of Rochester junior, majoring in English with an interest in literary translation studies. When not burying her nose in whichever book has most recently been plucked from atop the dangerously tall pile on her desk, she can be found obsessively learning new languages, squinting through her (very stylish, thank you!) bifocals at someone else's writing in her job as a Writing Fellow, drinking stupid amounts of tea, squinting through her bifocals at her own writing in her job as a scathing self-critic, or dreaming of living somewhere which gets even less sun than Rochester. Born in England but having lived most of her life in Endicott, New York, she has traveled back to the Land of Her People twice and visited Dublin once on the way over. She considered applying to Trinity College as an international student, but was deterred by tuition costs (yikes!) so she's absolutely 100% thrilled to be living in Dublin and taking classes at Trinity for an entire year (and only about 34% of that is because she might get to take a class on Patrick McCabe -- will it happen? Stay tuned!)</span></p>