Post-Grad Prep: Diversifying your Closet for School and Work

University can make up 4 to 6 years of a student’s life. This time is highlighted by late nights, adventures with friends, junk food binges, exam seasons and sweatpants. Just like you, your wardrobe undergoes a lot of change as a student. How you dressed in first year will most likely be completely different than how you dress at graduation. Depending on your style, university wardrobes technically consist of a mix of comfy-chic, going out gear, and casual weekend styles. For me personally, my university wardrobe consists of a lot of military jackets, crop tops and ripped jeans. These pieces are cute and can be worn across the board during your university career, but their applicability, unlike your university memories, are not eternal. When you transition towards co-op and careers, crop tops and ripped jeans end up not being as useful in your wardrobe. Now don’t go burning your favourite t-shirt dresses and high waisted shorts, but with graduation looming, it’s time to start thinking about building a wardrobe that can transition from your day job to nights out and days in. Your shopping trips don’t have to become a bore of trousers and power suits, but when picking up pieces it’s important to have versatility. There are some pieces that can help in the transition from university life to working woman.

Casual Blazer
Shoulder pads and matching pants need not apply, yet. Until you land your first full-time corporate job (if that’s where you're headed). The kind of blazers for your transitioning closet is a cloth blazer with the ability to roll up the sleeves. These blazers come in all colours and can be worn in so many ways for both school and work. Pair a coral blazer with a cream blouse and skinny trousers and you’re a business lady. On the other more casual hand, pair it with a band tee and a pair of ripped jeans and you’re ready for a day out.

Tip: Wearing a bright coloured blazer to an interview (within reason) is a good way to grab the attention of the interviewer.

Printed Trousers
Don’t be afraid to wear bold prints on your legs! From black and white mosaics to navy and red florals, printed trousers are surprisingly versatile. They add visual interest and they have the ability to spice up any basic outfits. In all seasons, these pants are perfect for both the university lifestyle and work. For work they can be paired with any blouse, blazer or cardigan combo to be office appropriate; and casually they can be paired with a white t-shirt or tank top. Wearing printed, bold pants can be intimidating. To properly pair these pants, it’s important to make sure one colour from the print is represented in the top or accessories. This tip is applicable to pairing patterns with patterns as well!

Chambray tops
It’s a denim jacket meets a blouse. Chambray tops have been around since the 1940s and they continue to be closet classics. Not only can they be worn as more formal button downs, either under a blazer or cardigan, but they have many different uses casually. Tucked in to high waisted shorts, paired with denim (yes, Canadian tuxedos can be okay) or paired with flowy skater skirts, these shirts are a simple addition that can add a touch of sophistication or a touch of carefree ease.

Pencil Skirts
With Rachel Zane as inspiration, pencil skirts are the perfect piece for the office world and out in the university jungle. I have a new love for rocking the pencil skirt with a matching crop top out at the club. Not only does it confuse people (Is she wearing a dress?) but they are also super flattering on all figures. Casually, paired with a distressed t-shirt or a chambray top these skirts give out a polished vibe. For your 9 to 5, pair pencil skirts with any blouse, turtle neck or shirt. The variety of these skirts is amazing. Choose a neutral colour and don’t be afraid to buy more than one.

Dark denim
Denim in the office is becoming more and more acceptable, I have even heard of places saying you have to wear jeans for a more casual work environment (although be sure to wait a couple weeks before breaking the jeans out to make sure it's okay at your office). Even when denim is okay at the office, it isn’t inclusive of all denim; avoid the rips and the light faded jeans. Dark, straight leg denim, or even almost skinny jeans are the jeans for this transitional period. They can be worn everyday with anything you currently own and they can be worn with blazers and sweaters in the office.

Tip: When washing dark jeans for the first time make sure you wash them alone or in the bath tub first as they will leak dye. This dye can and will (personal experience) dye everything in the washer with it.

And I don’t mean hoodies. Knit sweaters of all variety are a perfect purchase for both school and work. They can be super comfortable and dressed up or down. Layered over collared shirts or worn alone, any sweater in any colour minus any rips or cut-outs is perfect for the office. These same sweaters can be worn with leggings, jeans or skirts to class. In the coldest of classrooms or offices sweater make sure you are cute, comfy and warm all day.

Your makeup routine doesn’t have to change much when transitioning to the office. Lipsticks add a touch of colour to any outfit or makeup look on any day. In the office, depending on where you work, its best to not go to bold with the lips. As much as I love a strong berry lip, working in the government these don’t go too well. When transitioning your lipstick to the 9 to 5, it's best to stick with lipsticks that are more subtle but still there. Light pinks, mauve, nudes or your lips but better are the best shades for the office. These shades can also be paired with a bold eye and strong contouring for nights out.

Not all offices, transitions or styles are the same, but there are certain foundation pieces that can be helpful in creating a closet suitable for university, work or weekends. Shopping and dressing doesn’t have to become boring when you become an adult. You can still buy the cute pieces, but they just have to be paired in different, creative ways. When buying pieces, with going out and summer clothes as the exception, you just have to consider buying pieces that can be worn in both situations.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5