Keeping up with the ever-changing fashion world is harder than keeping up with the Kardashians when you’re in college. Between classes, work, internships, and a social life you may not have time to go shopping nearly as much as you’d like to, and you definitely don’t have the funds for it.
Developing a more mature, seasoned style takes time, and doesn’t happen overnight. Your tastes since high school have changed, and you’re faced with new occasions to dress for. Luckily, we eliminated the guesswork, asked the experts and found some easy, classic staples to keep in your wardrobe that will keep you looking trendy and chic during college--and post grad.
A leather jacket can spice up your style a lot more ways than you think. Ashley Temple, the Executive Assistant at Brandon Maxwell, says that the versatility of a leather jacket makes it a must-have staple in a collegiate closet.
Temple says that this jacket will give you that timeless look that will wear well and age well long after college. But don’t be afraid to break out your leather jacket in the summer months as well.
“I think in the fall, you can wear it with a sheer ribbed black turtleneck with high-waisted black jeans and boots,” Temple says. “In the summer, you can wear it draped over the shoulder, with a very ‘Bella Hadid’ dress and strappy heels.”
White Button Down
According to Allie Brandwein, a New York City-based wardrobe and image consultant, there are surprising and chic ways to style a classic white button down that will guarantee a permanent place in your wardrobe.
“It's classic and chic for the preppy girl but also has a modern menswear feel for those whose style leans towards being trendy with a downtown vibe,” Brandwein says. “The androgyny of this piece really sets it apart, and makes it a core wardrobe staple. I’ve worked with clients with many different styles and it is the one piece that I make sure everyone has in their wardrobe.”
Brandwein says the possibilities of a crisp white button down are endless. She suggests styling with jeans and loafers for a more casual look, or pairing the shirt with a skirt. You can also knot the shirt at the waist, and throw on a statement necklace and chunky stack heels for a night out with the girls.
“What I love about this piece is that it immediately gives a young woman a more polished grown up look but can be brought down and made a little more young and fun by the way she chooses to style it. "
A Dependable Dress
With the athleisure trend on the rise, Nicole Otchy, a personal stylist and branding consultant in Boston, says that a classic, go-to dress is the perfect way to balance casual and dressy. She believes that a good dress is every woman’s “secret weapon.”
“The beauty of a dress is that it can be styled in so many different ways and match any occasion you find yourself in,” she says. “ It’s also a great staple to have around when you have a day with a variety of events that don’t share the same sartorial vibe. If you have class in the morning, a presentation in the afternoon, and a date or party later, a dress can take you through all of those events feeling polished and pulled together.”
For class, Otchy says a denim vest, long necklace, and class boots or flats make for a perfect casual look for class, running errands in the city, and even study dates.
A Fitted Blazer
As you begin launching a career and going after internships, it’s important for your closet to have a healthy balance of casual and business casual. Christie Maruka, the founder of Fashion Fix, says that a well-fitted blazer paired with the right accessories is never boring.
“For a college woman, this jacket this can be worn during the day for interviews and special presentations,” Maruka says. “Jackets will instantly pull any look together with their no-fuss perfection. My advice when you shop is to know the difference between good and bad quality. Jackets will last you a very long time if you opt for genuine quality.”
Throw on a blouse and dress pants for a professional look, or a cami, jeans and heels for a night out.
Dark Wash Jeans
Every girl needs at least one “splurge item,” so why not make it something you’re going to wear over and over again? Megan Kristel, the founder and CEO of Kristel Closets, says she spent her college years in high quality, dark wash jeans in a flattering fit.
“Jeans are the universal basic, Kristel tells us. “They can go from class, to internship to a date night easier than any other item in your closet.”
For class, Kristel says to go sporty with a sophisticated sweatshirt and sneakers. Jeans can also be worn to an internship (if the office is casual) with a structured cotton blazer and heels. For a night out, jeans are best paired with a sexy, silky tank and clutch.
Little Black Dress
Trends may come and go, but our experts agree that the signature little black dress isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The best part about a black dress? It can be worn different ways to match different occasions.
Alisa Frederico, the style director at DressingJane.com, says a little black dress is perfect for the college woman who does it all.
“A dress like this is a foundation and can be so easily transformed by adding different accessories, layers and changing out your footwear,” Frederico says.
“Throw on a jean jacket, sneaks and a crossbody for the ultimate ‘cas’ look while running around campus. Dress up with heels, ornate statement jewelry and grab a clutch for date night or drinks. Add a fitted blazer, pumps and a top handle bag for a more conservative, sophisticated function.”
Amy Devan, the owner and creative director of NAVEDA + NAVEDA COUTURE, tells us the little black dress is not just for going out. She suggests finding a black dress that will take you from day to night seamlessly, from occasion to occasion.
“You'll need this dress for loads of occasions during your college years --- from interviews, to dates, to networking events, friends' weddings as you approach post-college years, etc,” Devan says. “It's just a matter of styling it the right way, and this staple dress can be changed from elegant to edgy in minutes.”