Postgrad life, who is she? Whether you want to admit it or not, graduation is nearing, and the real world will hit you on the way out. It may be a forced habit influenced by the college lifestyle to roll out of bed at 8 a.m. in your baggy sweatpants, but that just won’t cut it when it comes time for the corporate world. So why don’t we talk about the wardrobe switch you have to make as you transition post-grad? Because I hate to break it to you, your dirty Air Force Ones, your Shein crop tops, and your Lululemon leggings are not suitable for the office space.
Some may already have a dress code set for the workplace, but others may be a deer in the headlights when dressing for your first real job. No worries because it is far simpler than what meets the eye. But, it does take tweaking and swapping clothes, shoes, and accessories from head to toe. Be prepared for the post-grad life and the 9 to 5 workdays ahead of time by upgrading your wardrobe with these 10 essentials.
01. A Blazer
Don’t fight the feminine urge to buy every blazer in every color, shade, and pattern after you land your first big girl job. Embrace it because a blazer is a versatile wardrobe essential that you can wear day to night from work to happy hour with coworkers. But, if you were to only pick one, lean towards an oversized blazer ($35) in either black, navy, or plaid — they’re timeless but seem to always be in trend simultaneously, so you will never have to lose that hip side.
You may already own a little black dress, but is it appropriate enough that the office dress code police would approve? Probably not. You’ll need to ditch your cutout, bodycon, mini dress and swap for a more suitable LBD ($45) like a shirt dress, a shift dress, or a long-sleeved midi dress. It may appear boring to you, but disclosure: work can’t always a fashion show, and your coworkers are not looking for you to beat them on what to wear five days a week.
03. Sleek Slacks
Business casual is expected as proper office attire, and business casual means trousers, slacks, and dress pants. Unless you are working from home, you will have to tuck away your lounge pants and put on a pair of structured, sleek slacks. But luckily, the wide-leg trouser ($40) is trending, maybe because we adore pajama sets and loungewear, and it’s the happy medium. A slouchy trouser gives an effortless and relaxed fit paired perfectly with your basics. I shop for dress pants at the Loft because they are budget-friendly and will last you decades.
04. Leather Sneakers
This may be difficult to accept, but it’s time to lay the Air Force Ones that you lived in for your entire college career to rest. Upgrade your grungy sneakers for a more durable, classic pair like leather sneakers ($100). You won’t entirely leave behind the white sneaker trend, but you will look more put together walking into the office if not caught in a beat-up, casual sneaker. The sneakers that I currently have in my shopping bag are a pair of Vejas!
05. A Tote Bag
Swap your North Face backpack for a tote bag. Hallelujah! I don’t know about you, but my back can’t take another four decades of hauling books. Luckily, tote bags ($58) are the essential, durable, and strong bag to replace the backpack. Something about a good tote screams adulthood, whether it’s long-lasting life or its catch-all handiness. Just as you prepare for your transit to and from work, your tote bag can be your lifeline carrying everything from your wallet, shades, laptop, daily planner, headphones, water bottle, etc. I recently purchased a tote bag myself from Madewell ($198).
06. A Trench Coat
A trench is the only coat you will need to survive post-grad life. It is the transitioning coat for all types of weather, fall or spring, rain or sunshine. Trenches are the perfect jacket to layer over a staple work fit like a neutral turtleneck, wide-leg trousers, and loafers. You will not regret this purchase because trench coats ($248) always have and always will be a staple for your wardrobe, making it a worthy investment.
07. Classic Jeans
Your first job out of college may have a casual office dress code, but either way, it is time to update your jeans. Swap your distressed denim jeans that look like a lawnmower just ran over them for a pair of crisp, straight jeans ($79). They’re versatile for all seasons and go well with any choice of shoes: sneakers, heels, loafers, or boots.
08. Conversational Blouse
A blouse is one type of top to succeed in the post-grad wardrobe transition. Shockingly enough, your choice of a blouse ($18) can be a conversational piece as you meet new coworkers and make connections. So, seek out a blouse that is eccentric enough to show off your style but not too busy or distracting.
09. Comfortable Heels
Yes, you read it right, heels. It’s a far stretch from your house slippers, but it is time to step into the real world. Heels ($89) embody a confident mentality that inspires you to take that energy into the workforce. Not all heels are intimidating, watch for the height and pick a pair that is more comfortable and supportive to your feet, like kitten heels or block heels. Walking around your apartment before hitting the streets in your heels is a helpful tip.
10. Functional Watch
Something about a watch ($185) makes you look professional, so why not make it an everyday accessory for your post-grad life. You will always be on time, and there will never be an excuse to be late. Go the timeless route with a chic gold watch or be a tech guru and wear an Apple watch with a chic strap ($128).
Think of the post-grad wardrobe transition as a refresh button, a chance to truly discover your style and go all in. I suggest slowly dabbling into purchasing a post-grad wardrobe so you can invest in forever pieces, but it may be time to part with some of those college staples ASAP. College is behind you, and so is the trendy, short life span going out tops.