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)