Dear out-of-town students: time for a reality check. Rochester winters are cold, snowy, and infinite. According to USA Today, the average yearly snowfall for Rochester is 92", with the mean February temperature hovering at 23 degrees Fahrenheit. It's the 12th snowiest city in the lower 48 states, and it might seem warm now, it might seem like maybe winter won't come this year --- but it will. And when it does every ounce of fabric in your closet will be called upon to fight the Artic gusts blowing through the campus of your school. The first snowfall is hardly the time to prepare. Get your threads now before the homework piling up on your desk starts to resemble the thick snowdrifts growing outside your door.
Let's start simple. Bring a thick winter coat to school with you this year. No matter how much you think you don't need it. No matter how bulky and ugly it is. You will use it. Around town, department stores are the cheap and dirty place to pick up a coat. EasternMountain Sports, Dick's (both at Marketplace Mall) and similar sports stores will carry name-brand ski jackets at name-brand prices. But who says winter fashion has to stop with bulky, marshmallow-shaped coats?
Stock the closet with clothes that are easy to layer. A thermal shirt fits well underneath an oxford or a hoodie to insulate against the malicious wind chill, and thermal socks are good at preventing frost bite on cross-campus hikes. Department stores, again, will have these; look in the "lumberjack" section. If you're too cool for boots, prepare for some soggy and salty shoes. Try an equal mixture of vinegar and water to clean them off.
Household cleaning remedies aside, with Rochester's 200 million-plus square feet of indoor mall space, starting a fashion craze is within your grasp.
With hundreds of incoming freshmen, one or two signature outfits can set someone on the path to collegiate superstardom. It's a good idea to take a day and go through the racks at the Volunteers of America or the nearest thrift store in search of your vêtementd'etre. Consider postponing the excursion until the mid-semester lull, since success depends on the meticulous perusal of huge garment racks --- not exactly an in-and-out visit (see Directory).
If wading through lots of junk isn't your idea of a good time, try one of Rochester's vintage clothing stores. Ricky's Place (274 N. Goodman St., 442-0042) contains some killer pieces from the '50s, '60s and a touch of the '70s, while Godiva's (653 South Ave., 244-3370) is the place for some fab concert t-shirts from bygone eras. Pick up something to accent your already impeccable taste, or blow your whole Stafford loan on some stylin' threads. If small, big-city-style fashion boutiques are your thing, the two potential areas to scour are Park Avenue toward the city and Monroe Avenue in Pittsford.
Accessorizing, especially during winter months, can award you some easy fashion points. Scarves, wool hats, and mittens are a great way to look snazzy when the temperature drops, and a good weekend adventure might be to charter a car and travel to Canada for a truly inspired selection of toques and mufflers.
Outside of that, comfort is golden. Jeans and a t-shirt will be the bread and butter of your next four years. With jeans a variety of styles work, so find your brand. For ladies, capris are especially good for warmer days, and an alternative, more wallet friendly, option is to cuff the pant legs of jeans you already own. Or, even better, find a friend with similar taste and proportions, and share. Have a go at constructing a non-hierarchical fashion swap scheme with the hygiene active students on your floor.
Most importantly, don't be afraid to stand out. Come fall there will be one accessory, be it ridiculously gaudy or brutally dull, that every student on every campus will own. It might be furry leather boots, it might be a fleecy Northface pullover, it might even be as simple as an unbreakable Nalgene bottle. Resist temptation. Knowing what not to wear is just as important. (Well, maybe you can make an exception for the furry boots.)