Friday, July 2, 2010

Building a Post-College Wardrobe

Now that I've graduated from college and I can't get away with wearing $12.80 dresses from Forever 21 every time I go out (although that doesn't mean I'm not going to try), I've been trying to build a core, classic wardrobe that I can accessorize with trendy or seasonal items. But on a broke law school student's budget, it isn't proving to be all that easy. I've been doing a great deal of shopping on Hautelook (which I've now decided I may like better than Gilt, for the record), and I am getting a great deal off regular retail on some great wardrobe essentials. Since I've been around the seasonal wardrobe change once or twice (although admittedly, my winter wardrobe sometimes consists of my summer wardrobe with leggings), I thought I'd throw my two cents in about building the best wardrobe for yourself post-graduation.

1. Buy For Your Body Type & Skin Tone
Fashion trends are always going in and out of style, and some trends aren't meant for everyone. For example, high waisted jeans that were in last season are horribly unflattering on me. No reason to try and force the latest look when the outfit does absolutely nothing for you. Same goes for seasonal colors. I happen to be lucky that my skin tone matches most colors (although I don't look all that great in browns), but if pale yellow is the new "it" shade and you have bright blonde hair and pale skin, it's not your new it shade.

2. Classic Never Goes Out Of Style
While trends do wave in and out of seasons, classic looks don't. Chanel and Michael Kors are two perfect examples of designers who have perfected the classic wardrobe. Almost anything you buy designed by either of them could have been worn 10 years ago and will still be classic 10 years from now. Filling your wardrobe with solid colored staple pieces is the best way to build up. A little black dress and a pair of pumps are two great places to start.

3. Give Patterns a Chance
That being said, don't be boring. Patterns can spice up an otherwise dull, lackluster wardrobe, especially if you can only wear black to the office. Make sure you have a few floral print or tie-dye dresses for spring and summer summer, some dark patterned shirts for the fall nights on the town, and bright scarves for cold winter days.

4. Invest in the Best
New rule of thumb post-college: if you intend on wearing it more than once, pay what it takes (and what you can afford) to make sure it's good quality. Cheap fabrics won't last long, and that is horribly ineffective if you're trying to hang onto a wardrobe for an extended period of time. An $80 dress from Macy's will last longer than the $18 dress from the new trend store du jour and will end up paying for itself when you have to go buy 4 to replace the cheap one that continually rips or breaks on you.

5. Dress Up the Standards
Half the fun in carrying a lot of basic or standard items in your closet is so that when seasonal trends appear that you do enjoy, you can add fun jewelry or bags to an otherwise standard or plain outfit. I had a dress (actually, still have) that has been passed between my roommates and I since freshman year of college and has been worn in 20 different ways: as a shirt, as a dress by itself, with long necklaces, with knee high boots, stilettos, flip flops, and everything in between. The best part? No one else remembers it's the same article of clothing.

6. Wear Confidence with Every Outfit
Ever wonder how celebrities and models (sometimes) pull off the most absurd outfits? It's because they walk out onto the red carpet and own whatever it is their wearing. (Remember Bjork's infamous swan dress from the 2001 Oscars?) So no matter the occasion or ensemble, rock it. It will bring a certain je ne sais quoi to an outfit that no designer can sew into your clothes.

Above all, stay true to who you are. Everyone has some sort of signature look in how they dress, so don't let go of that to follow the latest and greatest craze. Hang onto your stylistic flairs and love the skin you're in.

I'm celebrating the Fourth of July with family and friends in style, as I hope all of you will be. I'll be back on Tuesday; everyone enjoy the long weekend!

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