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How to Transition Your Wardrobe from College to Career


As your four years at college come to a close, many changes are just around the corner. While saying goodbye to your favorite dining hall and finding a job are obvious, have you ever thought about how your style will change once you graduate? Collegiettes don’t dress like high schoolers, so why would a post-grad dress like she’s headed to a lecture or frat row? Luckily, giving your style a makeover is easier than you’d think. Whether you mix and match our tips or just make one tweak to your ensemble, check out our top ways to mature your look.

Look 1: Jeans and a T-Shirt

Every now and then, most collegiettes resort to sporting a simple tee and a pair of jeans. After all, this dynamic duo is comfortable, easy and you won’t be in jeopardy of committing a fashion faux pas. Unfortunately, this look doesn’t scream, “I’m a fabulous post-grad.” But before you begin to panic, there are so many ways to tweak this basic outfit.

Spice up this no-frills ensemble with some accessories. “Throw on some gold bangles and your favorite pair of espadrilles,” says fashion stylist Shanna Nicole. This set of bangles ($4) is effortlessly cool and will show onlookers that you put some thought into this casual ensemble.  Not only are these espadrille wedges sure to mature your ensemble, but they’re also perfect for the summer.

If you’re not a fan of jewelry and heels, stylist Kara Kaufman says updating this outfit is as easy as swapping your tee for a more innovative alternative. “Make sure the shirt you are wearing has more structure or detailing,” says Kaufman. “For example, a tee in a yummy cotton with faux leather sleeves is updated and sophisticated.” This high-octane shirt ($37) gets rid of the “I’m running to my lecture” vibe.

For an on-the-pulse outfit, simply throw on a blazer. “It’s always a winner,” gushes Kaufman. Juxtaposing this professional piece with an otherwise casual outfit is sure to create an edgy look. We are loving this blazer from H&M ($47) because it’s sleek and versatile. Not to mention a blazer is the ultimate way to keep warm and will quickly become a staple all year round.

While you may think that graduating college means you have to trade in your trusty denim for a pair of office-friendly trousers, many twenty-somethings sport jeans after hours (or even to work if their jobs call for casual attire). However, you may need to rethink your denim’s wash. “Start wearing solid wash jeans as opposed to denim with whiskering,” suggests Kaufman. “They are more sophisticated.” These dark wash jeans ($16) from H&M will instantly make your outfit more “grown up,” plus the dark wash will look great day or night.


Look 2: Internship Attire

At last, all your hard work has finally paid off. Gone are the days of menial intern tasks— you’ve officially snagged your first job in the “real world.”  Since you’re no longer an intern, why should you dress like one?

Though wearing a blouse to the office is a no-brainer, a silk button-up gives this classic piece a fashion-forward twist. “A silk blouse is always fashionable for the work place,” Nicole concludes.  The basic silhouette is perfect for an office environment while the luxe fabric spices up your ensemble. For sleek pick, opt for Front Row Shop’s silk blouse ($75). From tailored trousers to a fitted skirt this pick will complete any work-appropriate ensemble.

This just in: pencil skirts aren’t just for your second grade teacher and the cast of Mad Men. In fact, they are perfect for a post-grad. “I would suggest a killer pencil skirt,” Kaufman says. In addition to having a modest hemline, the stylist explains that pencil skirts can be paired with a slew of different tops. Leave it to Dorothy Perkins to provide a pencil skirt ($21) that’s both affordable and stylish. Not to mention the dark teal is the perfect way to add some color to a work-friendly outfit.

It’s no secret that ballet flats are a staple for stylish girls, both inside and outside of the office. However, you may be surprised to hear that the shape of your ballet flat could make or break your outfit. “As far as ballet flats [go], try to find an ‘almond’ shaped toe,” advises Kaufman. “If the toe is too short and round, it looks juvenile and shortens your foot.” The slightly pointed toe on these flats ($40) from Zara make a huge difference!


Look 3: Going Out

Though you’re going to miss frat row and your favorite bar on campus, life after college offers a bevy of different nightlife options. Instead of sporting what you would wear to a frat party, allow us to show you what you should wear to a night on the town.

Most collegiettes love sporting a sexy mini dress when they go out; however, the “leave nothing to the imagination” dress doesn’t cut it… especially once you’re a post-collegiette. For a sultry and sophisticated outfit, highlight one body part. “If you are showing a lot of leg with a short dress, make sure the neckline isn’t too low cut,” Kaufman says. “And vice versa.” Not only is this W118 by Walter Baker Dianne dress super elegant, the subtle peplum and snakeskin jacquard will make you stand out.

Just because you’re painting the town red doesn’t mean you have to wear a dress; however, pairing a plain shirt with heels won’t make the sartorial cut. “If you’re not in a dress mood, skinny jeans and a silk flowy tank top or button down look amazing for a night out,” Kaufman says. According to this style expert, fabrics such as silk and leather will instantly mature your ensemble. Unleash your wild side with this printed tank ($48). If you’re looking for a top that goes from work to post-work cocktails, try Uniqlo’s silk blouse ($50).

A fun-filled night calls for layers of accessories, right? Not necessarily. While adding a statement necklace, glitzy earrings, a cocktail ring and a wrist full of bracelets does sound tempting, it’s not always a good idea. “Go easy on the accessories,” warns Kaufman. “Too many accessories can make you look younger than you are.” In order to give your outfit some pizzazz, while keeping it age-appropriate, Kaufman suggests sporting a statement necklace or an out-of-this-world pair of earrings. This statement necklace ($27) will give your ensemble a necessary pop of color while these BCBG chandelier earrings ($68)are the ultimate finishing touch for a feminine outfit. It seems like Coco Chanel was right when she said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

Though dressing like a collegiette is now second nature, it’s important to sport your updated ensembles with confidence. Regardless of which tweaks you make to your “career” wardrobe, embracing the switch is the best (and most effective) way to show everyone that you’re a mature post-grad.


Kelsey is a senior at Boston University, studying Magazine Journalism  in the College of Communication. As a magazine junkie and fashion fanatic, she loves being a part of the Her Campus team! At BU, Kelsey is president of Ed2010 at Boston University.  She has interned for Time Out New York, Lucky, Anthropologie, and Marie Claire. Kelsey also has a fashion blog, The Trendologist, where she covers the latest trends, fashion shows, and red carpet reports. When she isn't busy, Kelsey loves hanging out with her friends and family, shopping, reading style blogs, going for a nice jog, listening to music, creating baked goods in the kitchen, watching movies, and eating tons of frozen yogurt and sushi! After graduation, Kelsey hopes to work as an editor for a fashion magazine. Follow Kelsey on Twitter and Instagram at @kmulvs and don't  forget to check out her "Catwalk to Campus" blog posts!
As the Senior Designer, Kelsey is responsible for the conceptualization and design of solutions that support and strengthen Her Campus on all levels. While managing junior designers, Kelsey manages and oversees the creative needs of Her Campus’s 260+ chapters nationwide and abroad. Passionate about campaign ideation and finding innovative design solutions for brands, Kelsey works closely with the client services team to develop integrated marketing and native advertising campaigns for Her Campus clients such as Macy’s, UGG, Merck, Amtrak, Intel, TRESemmé and more. A 2012 college graduate, Kelsey passionately pursued English Literature, Creative Writing and Studio Art at Skidmore College. Born in and native to Massachusetts, Kelsey supplements creative jewelry design and metal smithing with a passion for fitness and Boston Bruins hockey. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_thornFollow her on Instagram: @kelsey_thorn