Q&A: How to Build a Post-College Wardrobe

November 2nd, 2007

Q:  I’m a 25-year-old girl living in San Francisco, but my style is mired in my college years.  I dress pretty conservatively, lots of jeans and stuff from J Crew. I’m also very short and curvy and the styles these days (loose belted stuff) just make me look awful and stocky.   Any ideas on how to spice up my wardrobe?

 Max & Cleo Cap Sleeve Jersey DressBy Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A:  25 is the perfect time to expand your wardrobe from the collegiate look to an urban chic look.  And fortunately for you, this fall has rid fashion of shapeless dresses and brought back more tailored styles.

Tops: Choose blouses and shirts with a v-neck to elongate your neck.  You have good instincts to pass over the loose, flowy tops–tailored, fitted styles will flatter your curvy figure.

Pants: To create the illusion of more height, try on a pinstriped wide-leg pant. These subtle vertical lines help to create the illusion of height. For maximum figure flattery, let the line of the pant drop straight down from your hip.  Do not go wider as you do not want to create additional volume.  And on the subject of pants, you can update your denim wardrobe inexpensively at the Gap, where they have a great curvy fit trouser jean.

Dresses:  When selecting dresses, choose fluid materials without too much volume.  Bonus points for choosing richly dark colors, such as aubergine (perfect for Fall).

Accessories: Pair dresses with an open-toed heel to lengthen your leg line.  Heels–or, if you dare–the new ankle-length bootie, are great with the wide leg trouser as well.

Jewelry: Add sparkle and shine to your face with pretty earrings and necklaces.  Dangle earrings, in particular, visually elongate the shape of the face.

Pictured:  Max & Cleo Cap Sleeve Jersey Dress | $88 at Nordstrom.

Have a great tip about how to build a post-collegiate wardrobe?

Share it with us in the comments!

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Entry Filed under: Q&A, Women's

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Celeritas  |  November 2nd, 2007 at 3:16 am

    Buy the following: a great suit, formal trousers, 5+ button up shirts, sheer sleeveless ruffled blouse, a great fitted wool coat, a lacy shirt, a pretty satin ruffled skirt and a little black dress.

    Mix and match all the pieces with accessories to work it both on the job and after hours.

  • 2. Trisha  |  November 2nd, 2007 at 3:53 am

    Nice roundup, Celeritas!

  • 3. John  |  November 2nd, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    For the guys: if I am an employer or a girl (the two types of people this kind of stuff will matter to), your clothes shouldn’t make me think you’re still going for your Bachelor’s degree. That t-shirt that spells ‘BEER" in Greek letters? Go ahead and wear it while you watch the Patriots game on your sofa, but don’t wear it out of the house.

    If you’re in business (or really in any situation where the clothes you wear must be of a certain sophistication), there are certain staples of your wardrobe that you should get if you don’t have them already. They are:

    Suits (start off with gray charcoal, then get a navy, navy pinstripe, charcoal pinstripe and a khaki. Once you have these 5 basics, go ahead and get more interesting types, such as black, seersuckers, heavier wool, etc.), blazers (navy and charcoal or gray), buttondowns (white, blue, stripes), loafers, oxford lace-ups, a few sweaters, polos, and leather belts.

    If you live in the northeast or somewhere cold, get some scarves, gloves, snow boots, and a couple heavier coats.

    If you wear sneakers, live by this rule (as written by Glenn O’Brien of GQ): If kids would line up for it or if Turtle (from Entourage) would buy it, skip it.

    Weekend wear is more relaxed and casual, but still, not sloppy. T-shirts that fit and are appropriate for someone your age (i.e. NOT anything from Tshirthell.com) are fine, as are jeans, khakis, etc.

    And remember - like Trix, bagginess is for kids.

  • 4. Jennifer  |  November 3rd, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Oh, great advice! This is so relevant to my life, where I’m working part-time in SF and still in college.

  • 5. Trisha  |  November 3rd, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Awesome, glad to help Jennifer!

  • 6. Becky  |  November 8th, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I’m also 25, and I’ve been facing the same predicament. I’m extremely petite and I find that tailoring everything is the key to a tidy, professional and more adult look. I’ve also been investing in this season’s jewel-tone blouses and nice fitted blazers that can be worn to work with a pencil skirt, or thrown over some dark denim jeans for class. When I feel that I’m looking old, I like to add more playful accessories.

  • 7. Trisha  |  November 9th, 2007 at 12:52 am

    Indeed, tailoring is the key to an adult look. And I love your idea of adding playful accessories to dress your age. Thanks for sharing, Becky!

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