After graduating this past spring, I really thought that I would leave my stress behind. That it would just *poof* and disappear, like something out of Aladdin. It was time to move into the adult chapter of my life where things finally started to come easy (like every movie about 20somethings) right?
With a new chapter of pandemics and canceled job offers come new complications – and one of those smaller details happens to be a lot of spare time to stare at the overflowing bins of clothing I’ve gathered. Because we all have enough to worry about now (yup, 2020), I’m here to help navigate this small part of the journey. Who’s ready to Marie Kondo their wardrobe?
- What about Alma Mater and gameday gear?
First things first, let’s address the obvious college wardrobe: tailgate tees and cat ears. After graduating, it can seem like everything has to be all or nothing; either you keep all of your festive gameday gear to gather dust or you throw it all away.
Don’t feel like you only have two options. Keep what brings you joy and brings you back to your happiest memories. Besides, you can still wear that cropped jersey at an adult tailgate.
Now, remember that safari hat you bought for that one time at Sigma Sigma Something? Yeah, me either, because I haven’t looked at it since that day. If you’ve gathered a sort of costume box from your days on frat row and haven’t even looked in it since that last-minute Halloween party, it’s safe to say that you can donate those to your local thrift store.
- Start people watching, ASAP
With most of us new graduates joining the workforce, the most important lesson to learn right now is your office dress code. While Zoom meetings and working from home have definitely changed the current dynamic, most companies plan to be back in the office as soon as it’s safe.
Use this time as an opportunity to reach out to your coworkers to find out what the office dress code is really like. For example, many offices are “business casual” but there are business casual jeans and then there are business casual slacks. The sooner you find out what kind of office environment you’re joining, the easier it will be to adjust your clothes.
- Don’t ~sweat~ the basics
Remember when people used to say “leggings aren’t pants”? Well, thankfully, that’s no longer the truth. Don’t get rid of the basic pieces that you’ve relied on over the past four years. Black leggings, grey sweatpants and white t-shirts are still awesome pieces worth making room for in your closet, made clear by Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. If you’re trying to live your best Sex and the City days, combine those basics with your favorite statement pieces.
- Invest in multi-use pieces
When you do decide to buy more professional pieces, use your money wisely. I don’t just mean using coupons or signing up for a rewards program. Pieces like a leopard print midi skirt or a tailored black blazer can be worn in multiple ways, both at work and out of work. Combining a black blazer with a white tee and jeans is chic business casual, but can easily be made presentation-ready by swapping the jeans with a midi skirt or paper bag pants. A lime green blazer, on the other hand, is going to be harder to frequently re-wear.
- Your statement doesn’t end in school
One of the scariest parts about being an adult is feeling like you have to change who you are. You have to dress like an adult. You have to talk like an adult. You have to behave like an adult. Remember that being an adult is challenging for everyone, and no one expects a 22-year-old to act like a 45-year-old. So don’t stop buying tassel earrings or graphic tees or chunky sneakers if that’s you. You can make any kind of statement piece fit into your wardrobe if it’s your statement.
While becoming a young professional doesn’t happen overnight, it gets less scary every day. We’re all just trying to figure it out and to navigate this new world. But as cheesy as it is, the most important style tip I have is to just be you. You’re going to make it, whether that’s in a blazer or in jeans.