A pivotal moment will come in every college career. It’s called graduation.
Yes, graduation calls for a lot of anxiety about the upcoming future, but, hopefully, it calls for a great deal of excitement, too! At this point, you may have your first “real” job, and you’re patiently awaiting for your first day. You’ve mapped out exactly how to get there, how long it will take, and what you’re going to pack for lunch. Your next question? What are you going to wear?!
Transitioning from your sweatpants and messy bun to professional work attire is a big change, but don’t worry – Ashland University’s Fashion Merchandising program students are here to help! I’m going to give you steps to follow in order to transform your closet from slouchy college student to a sophisticated, young professional.
Step 1 – Cleaning out the Closet
The first step requires thoroughly going through your closet and tossing anything you don’t wear. Anything you haven’t worn in the past 6 months should get tossed or donated. Also ask questions like: Is it fading or pilling? Does it have holes? Does it fit well?
These are questions you need honest answers to. If it has holes, looks old, doesn’t fit well, is fading or pilling … toss it!
Step 2 – Start Planning Basics
Basics are just that! Basics! These are the staple products of your wardrobe and the pieces you should invest in. These are the pieces that will tie your wardrobe together – you can’t have all patterned clothing, because nothing will go together. Basic pieces you NEED to invest in include:
Black dress pants
Lighter colored dress pants (white, khaki, etc.)
Black pencil skirt
Solid colored blouses
Black dress shoes
Nude (tan) dress shoes
Neutral colored cardigan
Dark washed jeans
When buying or deciding if you have these items already, you must make sure these items fit well and are not fading. These should be items that fit you perfectly and are high quality. Spend some of your hard earned money on these pieces, because you will wear them a lot! I like to frequent the Limited for basics. Their styles are always up-to-date and trendy, but they still carry a variety of classic, basic pieces.
Step 3 – The Sizzle Pieces
Some people only use the basics in their wardrobe, and they can seriously rock this look. Most people, however, want to add a little style and personality to their look. Isn’t it nice to see some flair in a wardrobe? I wear a lot of blacks and neutrals and even I get bored with it. The “sizzle” pieces are what will add personal style to your overall look.
It’s important to note that these pieces should make up about 50% of your wardrobe, but they should also only take up about 25% of your wardrobe budget. These pieces are usually trends or fads, and just because wide leg pants are in right now, doesn’t mean you will be wearing them next season. I like to shop for sizzle pieces at places like Forever 21 and Express – you can get reasonably priced clothing, even if you won’t wear them forever.
Sizzle pieces are eye-catching garments. They are pieces you can’t wear two days in a row because someone will definitely notice! They’re also going to bring out your personality. Big floral prints, bold colors, strong tartans, and crazy jewelry all help to define your character. Sizzle pieces are my favorite part of wardrobe building. One day I may feel very girly, so I’m going to find floral prints, lace, or bows to wear. The next day, I may be feeling tough, so I’m going to wear studs and red tartan. Style-wise, you never know how I will be feel each morning, so all my sizzle pieces have an equal chance of being worn. When shopping, the perfect sizzle pieces will stand out to your personality, and you’re going to know if it has to be in your closet or not! Don’t forget: we are grown professionals now, so watch for issues like skirt length and proper fit.
But remember, you can’t only wear sizzle pieces! You’re should pair them with your basic investment pieces. Also, remember your color palette when shopping sizzle pieces. It’s important to make sure your brightly colored blazer is still the right shade for your season! You can refer to my previous blog post here to make sure you’re heading in the right direction!
Step 4 – Pairing the Basics with the Sizzlers
Step 4 is the fun stuff – outfit planning! Because I’m fashion obsessed, I like to make sure I’m wearing a variety of outfits each day of the week. I like to loosely follow this pattern:
Mellow Monday: Keep it comfy, you’ve got a big week ahead! Here, I chose basic black pants, and a striped, loose-fit tee. Can you tell which pieces are the sizzlers?
Textile Tuesday: This day is great for a play on different fabrics. Here, I chose jacquard floral fabric pants (these pants are a sizzle piece), and paired it with a basic cream peplum top.
Wacky Wednesday: On this day, I like to do a crazy pattern or fun shoes. Keep your co-workers guessing! Here I paired some crazy chartreuse pants and a striped tank with a basic cardigan and black booties.
Throwback Thursday: I’m very inspired by period pieces, so I’ve dedicated Thursdays to using a small vintage inspiration. This outfit has a nod to the 70s with the bold print. Pair a crazy print dress with neutral shoes.
Casual Friday: Hello! It’s Friday! Here we have quality, dark jeans with a neutral top and some crazy snakeskin shoes!
Choose your pairings carefully, but have fun! Keep your wardrobe professional, but don’t forget to be yourself.
Mariah Marshall is a senior at Ashland University, studying marketing and fashion merchandising. She is looking forward to pursuing a career in the fashion industry after graduation in May 2014.