Time to ditch the college uniform.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t play dumb. The yoga pants? Tee shirts? Even…UGG boots? They seemed like the perfect go-to ensemble in our undergrad years but if you’re graduating (or have been out of school for years like me) it’s time to bring the wardrobe into adulthood.
Even if you love shopping, building a wardrobe can be scary. First off, it’s time consuming–and I am just way too busy living it up and trying to find a job to put thought into creating an adult, professional wardrobe. I’ll worry about that when I get an interview or something.
On top of that, it’s overwhelming as all heck. So many trends, fits, colors. It hurts my head to think about it. Do I need that hi-lo skirt? Or those sunglasses everyone is wearing? What colors look good on me? Ah, I give up.
And here’s the real kick in the you-know-what: where the hell am I supposed to get the cash for a new wardrobe? I already sold my soul to pay for college, and I’m saving the rest of my parts for future financial emergencies.
But wait! (Cue infomercial music). What if all I needed to get by were 10 basic pieces? And what if with these pieces I could dress myself for an interview, lunch with a friend, and a hot date?
I could probably pull it off in a day, two tops, and without spending enough money to really set me back. I think I’m ready– are you?
A professional must-have that can pump up any outfit, this is my top staple pick. Wear it to an interview, with jeans, or over a cocktail dress for endless chic adult looks. Eventually you’ll want to collect them in every color, but start with black for the most versatility.
2. Pencil skirt
Another interview to cocktail-ready piece, the pencil skirt is as dynamic as it is classic. I like gray for a classic and easily match-able color, and yes you can most definitely wear it to an interview with your black blazer or to cocktails with some of your other staple pieces.
An essential professional piece, the basic blouse can also be dressed-down with jeans for a put-together daytime look. The safe choice is to go with a simple white, but I like a pop of color to mix things up a bit (teal is my favorite!).
4. Comfortable dress shoes
You don’t have to wear heels ( I can still hardly make it from my door to the car without ripping them off) but you can easily put a stylish best foot forward with the right dress shoe. I wear basic black flats to everything from lunch to work to happy hour–and you can easily find them for under $20!
5. Dressy coat
Because there’s nothing worse than having to wear a sweatshirt over a cocktail dress. Ever hit the coat rack on your way out and realize you just don’t have anything that looks right over your outfit? Did you go with nothing, and freeze your bum off all night, cursing yourself? A basic trench goes with EVERYTHING, and beige is a neutral color, so no worries about matching if you worry about that kind of stuff.
Great for the weekend or even work when paired with the right coordinates, a simple cozy sweater is a must-have on Boston’s many chilly afternoons. I adore a horizontal stripe despite what they say about its not-so-flattering effect. If you’re worried about looking wide, opt for a skinny stripe to minimize the effect or go for a solid neutral.
Good-fitting slacks keep you looking chic even on a casual Saturday morning, and with the right accessories and your trusty blazer you can wear them to work, too. Some easily-paired colors are beige, navy, and gray.
8. Dark jeans
Do yourself a favor and throw away those tattered, ripped things—or at least save them strictly for the beach…or Halloween? Growing up is hard, I know, but you’ll get way more versatility (and respect) with a pair of grown-up dark jeans.
9. Casual shoes
The right sneaker will do just fine, but I’m obsessed with riding boots. (Hey, I live in New England, so I wear these just about every day). Choose something simple that will work with a lot of outfits to get the most out of your purchase, and make sure they’re comfy!
10. Little black dress
This is your secret weapon, and it’s my second favorite because of its sheer versatility. I know, you may have one of these hanging in your closet collecting dust–but if you’re doing what you should, you’ll be using it plenty for networking events, parties, cocktails, and other events. Remember: this is meant to be a versatile piece, so make sure it’s an appropriate length (no more than 2 inches above the knee).
Simple. Now you’re ready for that inevitable interview, lunch with the girls, and even a swanky networking event.
Here are some ensembles to get you started:
What’s the most versatile item in your wardrobe?
Amanda Cripps is a writer and marketing professional taking one day at a time in the NH Seacoast. You can follow her on Twitter @amandacripps