Transitioning Your Wardrobe—Undergrad to Working Gal

One year ago today. I can’t believe I graduated from college one year ago today. Since then A LOT has changed, but my biggest concern back then was how my wardrobe was going to change from going-to-class outfits to interview-ready get-ups that would land me a job. My bit of advice to this year’s graduating class:

Invest in 5 Multi-Use Basics

5 basics to invest in postgrad

 

1. Perfect-fitting white blouse
Opt for one in silk or cotton. Elie Tahari, BOSS by Hugo Boss, even Banana Republic and J.Crew have good options. Have a larger bust, and struggle with gaping? Try The Shirt — this brand was featured on Oprah and I got to meet the founder + try on a blouse or two while interning in DC. It has a patented hidden button placket that ensures no gaping (check it out here).

2. Ankle grazing black skinny pants
These transition well from work to weekend, and you can pair them with a blazer for a more tailored/fashion forward suit at the office. You can never go wrong with black ankle grazing tapered pants.

3. Black shift dress
This one is amazing for interviews and for on-the-job. Can be paired with flats or pumps, jazzed up with a cardigan (embellishment optional), or can be worn out after work with the proper accessory additions. The one I scored was high neck, sleeveless and hit just below the knee, but there are so many varieties, pick one that suits you! Above I chose one with a crew neck and short sleeves or a mock-neck one with a slightly more fitted shape.

4. 1-Button Blazer
The perfect topper for those black pants (item 2) or can be worn over a simple tee to jazz up jeans. The purpose of a 1-button is for it to cinch in at your waist (smallest part), but if you have a fuller figure or not as defined waist as an hourglass shape, I would recommend trying a two-button variety as this will graze your curves more and not compete with a fuller bust. Want more personality than just plain black? Seek out blazers with fun linings—you’ll still look professional, but it will have a bit more personality that only you will get joy out of 🙂

5. Classic, non-trendy tote
I can’t even tell you how much use you will get out of an understated tote. Knowing your wardrobe, choose a color that will pair easily for many outfits. I nabbed two totes before graduation: one minimalist all-white tote with no metallic hardware and one all black tote with minimal silver hardware—one for S/S and one for F/W. There is no need to drop bills on this item; both of mine were purchased at discount retailers! I scored my Spring/Summer all-white tote at TJ Maxx for under $200 and I scored my black croc Furla at Nordstrom Rack for under $300. Chic, minimalist, and timeless. Choosing a non-trendy tote will allow this investment to last through your 20s.


Though those above mentioned additions to your wardrobe will serve you well, it will be peace of mind to do a closet audit—especially if you’ll be downsizing into a shoebox-size apartment in NYC like I did. Buh-bye walk in closet! What I’ve listed below were things that I deemed as “never wearing again past undergrad” and was happy to give away/sell/donate. Everybody’s tastes are different—audit your closet and see what you can part with 🙂

Subtracted: boho mini dresses, excessively boho blouses, Minnetonka fringe boots (Halloween stash), anything I thought “I’ll wear this if I ever ______”, excessive amount of jeans and any pairs that were too trend oriented (colored denim, paint splattered, ultra ripped, etc.), 2/3 of my t-shirt drawer (namely graphic tees), shoes that I knew wouldn’t withstand a typical NYC night (aka walking 5+ city blocks), sheer blouses, anything that was very trend focused

Added: tops that could transition from day-to-night, more practical shoes (lower heels, flats that are cute and breezy), multi-use dresses, starting to save up for designer pieces (more European thinking)

Show Me Your Tights

Quite a few of my girlfriends have girly-er taste than me…surprise surprise. That being said, they enjoy wearing skirts with cute tights in the cooler months. Their challenge? Staying warm while showing off the cute designs on the tights. In an attempt to help a few girlfriends keep staying cute while out and about town, check my advice to keep those shivers at bay:

1. Layer nude or black tights under patterned ones & wear socks (if wearing with booties/boots), NOTE: nude will obviously work under any tights, but be more strategic with black. For extra warmth, spring for the kind of thicker nude tights worn by figure skaters (yes, I used to figure skate as a child lol it was a glorious realization to have as an adult, years later).

2. Knee socks are your best friends. This will work much prettier with the solid tights (don’t try this with the patterned ones, especially if you’re looking to show off the pattern!). Buy “over-the-knee” socks for optimal warmth & simply layer. Since “over the knee” is pretty popular with higher-cut boots, they now are easy to find in an array of colors! Pick out a few shades that will coordinate well with the solid colored tights. Or if you’re not into the color-blocked look, try n find as similar colors to the tights as possible. This trick even works well with the faux-suspender look on sheer tights, like the pale ones above to the right.

3. Another even WARMER way than knee socks: leg warmers. American Apparel has some amazingly warm ones that are a chunky waffle-knit in an array of colors–the ones I’m thinking of are the “longer length” ones (b/c yes, they also have the dinky ones that only come to mid-calf). The longer length lets you play with it a bit more, especially if you want them to show at the tops of knee-high boots or cover your heel a bit for an ’80s vibe.

I hope this helps a bit ladies!! Rock em loud, rock em proud.

None of these photos are from me—found via 1, 2, 3

European v. American: Differently managed wardrobes

You might be thinking, “Wait, people manage their wardrobes?” Well, yes, yes they do. You do too, you just don’t realize it. You may not think your spending habits reflect your country of origin, but it speaks more about your consumption patterns than you think. The two mindsets are quite different:

the European way vs. the American way      |     Quality vs. Quantity

It’s said that Europeans have the consumption habits of buying a few select high-ticket pieces per year to incorporate into their basic wardrobe, whereas Americans tend to buy numerous low-ticket items multiple times a year to have a plentiful wardrobe. Americans are known to adorn themselves with name brands, linking the concept to status-symbols; Europeans clothe themselves in well-designed pieces knowing the brands simply from the designs, no logos needed. Americans are very focused on self-expression and tapping into trends while Europeans are said to value the quality of a garment and the longevity that it can have in their wardrobe’s lifetime.

It’s sometimes horrifying better, to view it like this:

1 blouse ($300)     +     1 coat ($700)     +     1 pair of heels ($200+)      =      $1200+
European shopping mindset

3 t-shirts ($12 each), 2 pairs of jeans ($30 each), 2 flip flops ($5 each), 1 hoodie ($40)= $146
American

A few questions for you to ponder:

∞  Which do you think you follow: the European or American mindset?
∞  How do you view your closet? I.e. Curator or hoarder?
∞  What type of shopper are you? I.e. planner, impulsive, etc.?

 

How-to: Downsize Your Wardrobe

Since graduating college 34 days ago, I’ve already managed to go through a minor identity crisis. I found myself blankly staring at my closet the other day, utterly uninspired. It dawned on me that the clothes I’ve had for the past four years of my life seem almost like a time capsule of undergrad. It’s as if those clothes tell a story, but I’m already starting the next book in the series. Since an outfit is your unspoken first impression, I’ve not been feeling quite like “me” in the clothes I own. That sentiment, mixed with the new-found free time of being unemployed I’ve had the time to think. And rethink. And overthink. And…decide to downsize.

In this age of over-consumption, I have we all have too much stuff. I don’t know about you ladies and gents, but I for one am appalled by the amount of stuff I have: cosmetics, hair products, shoes, purses, costume jewelry, and CLOTHES. There’s no better way to force yourself to realize your “wealth” of goods than having to go through a move…into a smaller residence. After I packed up everything from my 850 sq ft 1 bedroom apartment in D.C. I had two hefty bags of donations for the Salvation Army—and this was after I sold many garments to girlfriends.

More recently I signed a lease to a 500 sq ft studio apartment here in NYC with significantly less closet space. What perfect time to weed out more unnecessary items, or anything I haven’t reached for in a while? Since this tends to be the time of year that many people relocate or maybe are just in need of a late “Spring Cleaning”, I thought this might be a good time to do a post for downsizing your wardrobe

1. Sort through and make three piles: Necessities, Consignment, Donations

Necessities: items you reach for multiple times a week for either work or lounge/leisure. Think blouses, blazers/jackets, suits, skirts, pants, work-pumps, totes/satchels, sandals, jeans, t-shirts, etc.

Consignment: “nicer” items you haven’t worn in over 2-3 months. If you haven’t reached for it since you came home with it, then you aren’t going to. NOTE: If the tags are still on, consider selling on eBay. If still within return policy, RETURN IT—there’s no sense in losing money over something you won’t enjoy using. Think: Theory, Rebecca Minkoff, Tory Burch, all the way to Alexander Wang, Balmain, and Dior, but for near-pristine designer duds, consider eBay before consigning for more money back on your investment 😉

Donations: items you haven’t thought to wear in over 6 months. These may be a bit more worn than some, less “nice” items (i.e. jeans, tees, flats, purses, sweatshirts, coats, dresses, etc). Think items from AE, Old Navy, Gap, Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal…items you never paid over $80 for.

2. Anything you’re iffy on, put aside to go back to in a little bit.

* Ask yourself: – have you worn it in the past 1-2 months? Do you find yourself thinking about outfits around that garment? If not, it may be time to pass that garment on to someone else who will wear it. My philosophy: there is no use in holding on to something that takes up space if someone else will get more use out of it than you ever did.

3. Consignment + Donations

If you want to sell your stuff, check out: Second Time Around, local consignment shops

If you want to donate your stuff, check out: SAtruck.com to schedule a pick-up, Goodwill, Big Sister/Big Brother pickup, Savers

**Why didn’t wasn’t “Clothing Swap” listed? The aim of downsizing is to get rid of things that you do not want nor need. A swap will leave you with the same number of items even if you got rid of the ones you wanted to; it will still add to the clutter. Do not acquire if your wardrobe does not require.

Just remember: the less attached you are to objects the freer you’ll be.

Photo via

Shopping Tip #6: Never Pay Full Price

Growing up in suburbia and attending college in D.C. offered slews of stores out of my price range. In high school I had the advantage of working a part-time job at TJ Maxx to support my closet. Now, while in college, my schedule has been filled with internships instead of a paying job. This has allowed me to acquire a new skill set: finding deals when girlfriends thought it couldn’t be done. Going to school in our nation’s capital is fun, but boy is it expensive! Add to that my expensive particular taste in clothing and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Over the years I’ve picked up a few habits that have helped me be able to still buy the clothes I love at the price-points I’ve fallen in love with. I’m always floored when I talk to women and they say they payed full price for an item; many a time I find the same designer at a discounted store for a fraction of the price they said. To ensure that you never pay full price, here are a few tidbits to consider:

1. Get that frequent shopper card

Unfortunately, not all cards are created equal. Some are credit/debit cards while others are actual frequent-shopper cards. To feed my particular shopping habits I have a Sephora Beauty Insider card, a Nordstrom Rack debit card, and a Loehmann’s Gold Rewards card. You’d think that after working in the TJX Corporation for 3 years I’d have a TJ Maxx credit card, but I don’t. My mom does. One other I’d offer for consideration: a Macy’s credit card. Agreed, credit cards can get crazy out of control (notice how I don’t have any listed?) but Macy’s in particular is very beneficial as it offers discounts exclusively to card members (again, my mom has one, ha!). For more information on each card click on their names above.

2. Shop at high-end discount stores

May sound like an oxymoron, but they’re chock full of gold!! I always prefer to do this in-person, but if you absolutely insist on doing this online, you’ll want to check out these sites:

3. See it in-store, find it on Ebay or Amazon

Though it may have been an issue in the past, both Ebay and Amazon have amped up their authentication processes to ensure that knock offs are no longer on their sites. I have found designer denim in department stores and checked on Ebay to find the exact same pair in my size for $20-60 cheaper (plus in a wash I like better!).

4. Use Online Tricks of the Trade

The online tools from this article will help you master finding steals online if you don’t have the time or patience to go from store to store. Not everyone enjoys shopping in-person; it’s a sport that can easily instill disappointment, tiredness, and wishing you’d just stayed home. For those men and women, online shopping is your best bet.

 

Always remember:

Shop smart, shop confidently 🙂

Photo via