9 Items That Should Be in Every Woman’s Closet After Graduation

Make sure you have these nine wardrobe essentials if you're a female college grad.

You’ve walked across the graduation stage and now, it’s time for your first few steps into the adult world. With a brand-new chapter unfolding before you, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Feeling confident as you make professional strides is vital for any college grad. Looking the part is a key element in building that self-esteem. 

If years of studying and dorm room hangouts filled your wardrobe with sweats and yoga pants, it’s time for an overhaul! But don’t worry, you won’t need to take out another loan for this sartorial endeavor. The majority of high-quality, classic items can actually be found second-hand or at affordable sustainable brands.

Ready to shop? Remember these key items, and you’ll be ready for the “real world” in no time.


Arguably the most “grown-up” item you could own, blazers keep you looking polished and professional. The great thing about the blazer is that it can be worn both formally and casually. A blazer pairs perfectly with office slacks and pencil skirts while also matching seamlessly with a pair of blue jeans for a more laid-back look. Most importantly, high-quality blazers are very common at thrift stores, so stock up on a few in a variety of colors, fabrics, and prints. P.S., keep an eye out for vintage designer labels.

Crisp button-ups

The button-up shirt offers all the comfort of your favorite tee but helps you to look more put-together. The great thing about the button-up is its styling versatility: You can roll up the sleeves, tuck it in, or pop the collar. You can also pair it with the rest of your office wear or simply with some shorts on the weekend. This is another fantastic item to stock up on at a thrift store. Make sure you snag a classic white one, but don’t be afraid to try stripes and bold colors.

Classic jeans

It’s time to 86 those overly distressed jeans from Forever21! Investing in a pair of flattering, classic jeans will give you greater outfit versatility every week. Avoid styles with rips or dramatic whiskering and stick to clean washes. Levi’s and Everlane are known for their high quality jeans and traditional washes. The goal is to invest in a jean that you can easily dress up with heels and a blazer for Friday night cocktails. 

Comfortable heels

Painful heels are a thing of the past! There’s no need to suffer for beauty. Opt for heels with these comfy traits: two-inch heels (or less); block heel; round toe box; wedge heel. Everlane has mastered versatile, comfortable heels so you can wear cute shoes from day to night. Stick to neutral colors like black or nude so you can wear them with anything.

All-occasions dress

Invest in a go-to dress that you can wear everywhere. Whether you’re going to the office, church, fancy dinner, or a date, you need a flattering dress that you can count on. Avoid trendy styles and choose a classic fit like a pencil dress in a neutral color like black. That way, the dress will serve as a canvas for however you want to style it. Before purchasing anything at retail price, be sure to check out Poshmark and ThredUp for the item you want in your size.

Versatile pencil skirt

Like the pencil dress, the pencil skirt is versatile but will especially come in handy when you’re going to interviews or to work. Make sure you get it in a comfortable fit and fabric that doesn’t restrict your movement too much. The best part? You can wear it with both flats and heels as well as any top. The pencil skirt is another great item you will most likely find at a thrift store, so don’t forget the skirt section.

Sleek slacks

When the weather is cold or you’re simply tired of skirts and dresses, try slacks. A pair of navy, black, cream, or olive slacks will match any top or work shoes you pair with them. Peruse the thrift store for a pair before hitting up J.Crew, Banana Republic, or GAP. 

Trench coat 

A puffer jacket or windbreaker on top of your new classy ensembles? No way! Keep the polished appeal going by investing in the tried-and-true trench coat. Its tailored style will perfectly complement your professional outfits while also making your casual weekend outfits more upscale. Luckily, tons of high-quality trench coats can be found at secondhand shops for under $10.

Professional work bag

Time to throw out that Jansport backpack you’ve been lugging around since freshman year! Upgrade your work bag to something minimal, sleek, and sturdy. A leather tote bag is great for stowing away your laptop, wallet, a book, or anything else you commute with.

Think of the items above as the foundation of your wardrobe. As time goes on and the seasons change, you’ll find yourself adding more items that match and complement what you already own. Want to go deeper? For a complete wardrobe makeover, check out this 30 day challenge

Well, college grad, it’s time to take on the adult world! These items will have you feeling confident in any situation life throws at you. Now, let’s throw on a smart blazer and crush some job interviews.

Click to download this free 30-day wardrobe makeover challenge.

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