Life’s too short to wear boring clothes. ~ Cushine et Ochs
Of course it is! But all those fun dresses, crazy prints, cute jeans, sorority shirts, and loud bags you’ve been sporting in college look a lot different from all those “what should I wear to my interview” Pinterest searches you’ve been doing. How can you transition your wardrobe from college to post-grad life – without going broke or sacrificing your personal style?
Luckily, this task isn’t as daunting as it might seem! Here are 7 steps to elevating your style without breaking the bank, and with your own fabulous personality staying front and center!
1. Know the differences in dress codes – what exactly is “business casual?”
What’s appropriate for a bank – blazer, dress pants, blouse, heels – may be way too formal for grad school. Got a creative job? Your “uniform” is going to be completely different depending on the company. That’s why it’s incredibly important to know the dress code of your job, or of the graduate department you’re in. Some companies have manuals, some you just have to feel out, but what’s important isn’t looking like a clone – it’s fitting your personal style into helpful parameters!
2. Identify your personal style, the colors you love, and what looks best on YOU.
Before starting any shopping, closet purging, or outfit planning, understanding what looks best on you, and what you truly love about your clothes, is a great place to start. If you want some guidelines, check out I Love Your Style: How To Define and Refine Your Personal Style by Amanda Brooks or The Science of Sexy: Dress to Fit Your Unique Figure with the Style System that Works for Every Shape and Size by Bradley Bayou to get started on figuring out your style and body type. Then, and sorry, but this is going to be a huge mess, take every piece of clothing you own and try it on. Do you like it? One pile. Do you LOVE it? Another pile. Is it…meh? Different pile. Then go through the piles and look for trends, colors, shapes – anything that helps you get closer to your authentic style.
3. For every fun piece you purchase, buy a basic or really versatile piece.
So now you have a pretty good idea what you like, and what you don’t – good job! Now let’s go shopping/thrifting/raiding our friends closets! I’m in love with Lilly Pulitzer, with fun prints and patterns, but not everything I own can look like that. Plus, want to wear that Lilly dress to work? Sure! A Lilly dress with a patterned cardigan and shoes with giant bows in a corporate office? Nope. Statement pieces are great – so buy those fun pieces! But make sure to get the “basics.”
4. Speaking of Basics…
Surprise! They’re different for everyone! For some people, a white button down is a basic – for me, it’s a giant target for spills, and not something that would go with anything I wear. Love a good blazer? Buy one in fun AND tame colors! Obsessed with wide-leg pants? Great – get those floral ones but maybe some navy ones too! Basics should be pieces that you can throw on with those statement pieces, that tie outfits together, and that above all, elevate your look.
5. Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize
The right accessories can make or break an outfit. True story – I was once offered a job on the basis of my fabulous watch. Even if you aren’t living in a Twilight Zone episode, the right accessories can tie your look together.
- Are you wearing a solid dress and cardigan? Pair it with a statement necklace.
- Are you wearing a patterned blouse? Pair it with some pearl earrings.
- Do you want to show off an interest, but don’t feel comfortable wearing that dinosaur patterned dress to work yet? Buy some cute dinosaur earrings, or a bracelet with dinosaurs on it.
Accessories are supposed to be fun – you don’t have to give up your identity to be professional!
6. Everything looks better with the right shoes.
This DOES NOT mean you have to wear heels. But gone are the days when throwing on flip flops with every outfit was an acceptable time-saving measure. Shoes are also a cheap way to experiment with colors and styles without too much commitment, something that’s crucial when trying to make the transition from college student to post-grad life.
7. HAVE FUN!
Graduating college is huge, and the life changes that happen after college are fun and exciting and scary. No matter what you do after college, you’re going to want to balance making a great impression, something that style can help with, with figuring out who you are in this big transitional period. Keep doing your research, keep reading those books, keep trying out new things, lovelies, but also have a lot of fun doing it! Fashion is an adventure – be confident, willing to learn, and excited about the journey!