Senior Staff Writer James Perry has devised the perfect way to pick an outfit in the morning. Their tip? Match the buildings you’ll be stopping in.

We’re two weeks into the semester already, which means that midterms are a few classes away and that you’ve probably already worn all of your good outfits to class. Odds are you haven’t worn pants to class in a year and a half (no judgment here) and the inspiration to wear something nice to class has fizzled out over the past few weeks. I’ve found, however, that putting more effort into wearing something that I’m confident in helps me to pay attention in a lecture and boosts my morale for the dreaded discussion section. While it’s definitely not necessary to wear a tux to class (you could if you wanted to, though), a little extra effort can go a long way to be the best-dressed in your class.

But Sarah, you might ask, How can I dress well for class without overthinking it? My answer, dear friends, is simple: match the vibes of the buildings you have class in. If you’re going to Milbank in the morning, International Affairs in the afternoon, then studying in Avery for the evening, you can channel the classic aesthetics of Milbank and Avery by dressing like a dark academia Tumblr blog threw up on you and draw in some modern influences from International Affairs by updating your silhouette.

Still not sure how it’s done? Don’t sweat it. I’ve compiled a few ~moodboards~ to guide your outfits in a new direction. Let’s begin!

Butler Library

We can start easy by taking a look at what you could wear for a study session in Butler between classes. It doesn’t take much to lean into the obvious. Channel your inner dark academia aesthetic blog and grab a plaid blazer and your comfiest pair of slacks. If you happen to have some book earrings lying around you can put those on too (it is a library, after all)!


You may be thinking that an outfit inspired by Pupin would look the same as every other building on Columbia’s campus. You would be wrong! For Pupin we’ll lean into a more atomic look with some shiny pants and funky futuristic sunglasses. The history of this building is just too juicy to ignore: research for the Manhattan Project was started here and, according to one of my professors, the Columbia football team had helped with it (?!). In any case, it’s only appropriate for an outfit inspired by Pupin to veer more into the modern than every other neoclassical brick building on campus.


For Law we’ll take a more classy approach. Instead of going more streamlined and brutalist (sorry, brutalism, but I could not make myself compose a brutalist outfit) I’ve picked out an outfit to match the building’s color palette! Let’s convince people that you’re really a law student by wearing a nice cream button-up and a greenish-grayish overcoat and pants to match the sculpture on the front of the building. Dare I suggest a briefcase…?


This kind of outfit could honestly go for any of the neoclassical buildings on Columbia’s campus, but let’s go for something inspired specifically by Hamilton Hall. Here we haven’t sacrificed style for comfort: with a nice sweater and a silk midi skirt, you’ll be well-prepared for sitting a while in those wood chairs in the lecture halls. At the same time, you’ll match with the nice wood paneling and the roof with a green color palette!


If you’ve got a class in the Northwest Corner building, you can embrace the modern aspect by going for a streetwear-inspired look and matching the building’s color palette! Who said you can’t wear sweatpants to class? Here’s just a sweatshirt and sweatpants brought up a level by a cool denim patchwork jacket and some nice shoes.


Let’s keep up with the theme of elevated comfort while we step over to the other side of Broadway! If you have a class in Milstein you can match the airy, modern feel with touches of white and a warm color palette; here I’ve toned down a funky yellow jumpsuit with a brown denim jacket that matches the nice bits of wood in Milstein!


Finally, to conclude our tour of campus, we have an outfit inspired by Milbank. Milbank is, in my opinion, the quintessential Barnard building; if you’ve got a lecture or a seminar here, you should definitely channel your inner Barnard student, regardless of what college you go to! I’ve stuck with a more dark academia-inspired outfit but paired it with distinctly Barnard accessories: a tote bag, Doc Martens, and a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In this outfit you’d definitely be the envy of all of your Barnard classmates.

We’ve reached the end of our tour of campus, and I hope that now you have some inspiration for putting together some quality fits for your upcoming classes! Go forth and venture into your classes with the perfect outfits!

images via bwogger