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THE FASHION MONGER: Back to School Pt. 2 — College 101

Former Fashion Club President at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute Odilia Mendez, models back-to-school fashion. (Spenser R. Hasak)



Higher learning is a luxury. Especially if you are away from home, living dormitory life and sharing your living space with roommates, spending time in vast lecture halls and managing a loaded class schedule. Whether you attend a small college or large university, the experience is priceless.   

I remember the day my mother and a family friend dropped me off at college. After we unloaded my essentials, I walked Mother to the vehicle to say goodbye. As they drove away, I realized that I was all alone, terrified to embark on this new chapter of my life. As soon as I got back to my dorm room, it was time to add decor to my tiny space. I cried when I saw the tiny twin-size bed. I fell out of that bed so many times; it took some adjusting.   

Packing for the dorm lifestyle is much more than the basic essentials — school supplies and backpack. Tip: Chat with your new roommate(s) to see what they are bringing into the tiny space.  


Personalize your space to feel like home, while turning it into a multifunctional cool space. The bed is the largest piece of furniture and focal point in your room. By arranging throw pillows alongside the wall, you can transform the bed to look like a daybed. If you are going for glam decor, dress your bedding up with posh throw pillows, a set of colorful sheets, duvet cover and bed skirt. If you really want to splurge, a tufted cushion headboard will create a luxe vibe.  

Add a glam accent to complement the look with a faux Mongolian pouf for extra seating and/or faux Mongolian area rug. To cover the bare wall and to create a selfie backdrop, hang an oversized rose-colored sequined tapestry. Want to bring sophistication to the room? Add curtains to the space for a cozy feel.  

Style the nightstand with an artificial plant, lamp, and unique equipment for your portable devices. A laptop stand will be perfect too.  

To stay organized at the desk, keep the workspace neat with stylish bins, desk accessories, combo bulletin board/bookcase shelf. To make it pop, add a neon table lamp.  

Storage space is a challenge. Try to use every bit of the small space — under-the-bed storage bins, ottoman, a hanging fold-up shoe holder for  beauty essentials (blow dryer, curling iron). To keep closet space organized and neat, add a closet rod extension for extra hanging. Keep the multipurpose laundry basket in the closet.  

To survive the late nights, you’ll need kitchen appliances — microwave, mini fridge, Keurig mini machine, and iron. Check with the school before you invest; some of these appliances may already be in the room. You will like such basics as dishware, containers, utensils, rice cooker, mirror. The must-haves essentials for the communal bathroom — flip-flops, towels, robe, shower caddy.           


Creating a cool man’s living space for the dorm room requires more than just a duffel bag full of clothes. Start with the focal point in the room, the bed. Put a shelf as the head of the bed. Bedding with stripes, shapes or plaids with minimal throw pillows will set the ambiance. Grand wall décor would complement the space — neon light, oversized college/sport logo tapestry.  

To accentuate the space: area rug for cozy feel, bean bag, butterfly/moon chair is great for gaming time. A night stand can be equipped with smart devices and a table lamp. Keep the desk workspace organized — baskets/bins, chalkboard, laptop, Bluetooth speakers and classic lava lamp. To add more space on the desk, bookcase shelves are great.

Finding storage in a small space is tough. At the foot of the bed, place the traditional trunk for storage. Directly on the side of the closet — hang a hat rack. In the closet, put a laundry hamper and closet organizer.  Under-the-bed storage bins are great.

To personalize the entertainment space, hang a mini basketball hoop behind the door. Want to really live it up? Set up a TV for video gaming while lounging in a butterfly/moon chair. Don’t forget you are there to study, but, once in a while take a break.

Men in dorms need the same must-have appliances; check the paragraph above.

Menervia Akers, The Fashion Monger, is a self-taught artistic designer born and raised in Lynn. She developed a flair for fashion at a young age. She started a fashion club for Lynn Vocational Technical Institute students and served as club adviser. The Fashion Monger, known for her whimsical style, has been creating her distinctive designs underground for years. Now she wants to help you discover your own style. In 2008, the self-taught milliner/designer started her avant garde brand MENERVIA … dare u to be u. Now, 10 years later, she is embarking on a new career as a columnist. Her biweekly column will offer strong opinions, tips, advice and insights from industry professionals.

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