Monday, October 6, 2014

10 Wardrobe Staples for Any Grad Student

I know this isn’t my typical kind of post, but I also know I’ve had struggles finding that balance between “I’m still in college” and “I’m a professional now” workplace look, and figured there had to be other people out there with the same problem. I’m fortunate enough that my lab has a rather casual dress code, as I’m sure most do, but I also don’t want to get in the habit of wearing a t-shirt and jeans to the office everyday. Because that’s obviously not how the real world works, and it’s good to at least look like you know what you’re doing when you bump into a freshman, or worse, are their lab instructor.

Big thanks to Pinterest for the help in putting together outfit ideas. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Now if I could just figure out how to magically transform all of these outfits into my closet, free of charge…

1. Cardigans - They can take any casual look and bring it up a notch. Not to mention they make for a stylish way to keep warm in those freezing cold classrooms and labs. You can pair them with dress pants for a nicer look, or go with jeans for an everyday outfit. They look great with a plain tee or a button down, and everything in between.

Credit: Surely Sonsy
2. A Nice, Fitted Pair of Jeans - If you still have jeans filled with holes and bedazzled hearts, throw them out now. There's no place in academia, or any workplace for that matter, for your old high school jeans. Go buy yourself a couple of nice, fitted jeans that make you feel (and look) awesome. A good pair of jeans can take an outfit from "Hey, I'm a freshman" to "Hi, I'm your new teacher".

3. Dresses - A dress can totally be part of a casual outfit, if you pair it with the right accessories. Like a cardigan! Just make sure if it's a shorter dress to pair it with a good pair of tights or leggings. It's more professional, and you might have to anyway if you're working in a lab (long pants/dresses/skirts are a must for safety).

Credit: Swing the Day Away
4. Maxi Skirts - Maxi skirts are another great way to break out of a t-shirt and jeans rut. You'll feel dressed up, but still be completely comfortable for a long day of classes and work. And they come in so many fun patterns and colors that you just can't get from a pair of pants.

5. Scarves - A scarf is a perfect complement to an outfit that might otherwise look "too plain". They add a fun pop of color or pattern, are just plain adorable, and bonus: they keep you warm!

Credit: Mrs. D's Corner

6. Large Bags - This should really be number 1, because a grad student's best friend is her school bag. The bigger the better. Mine can fit my computer, a few notebooks, my extra large planner, an umbrella, my wallet, and a pencil case, plus has pockets for a water bottle, my phone, and other random crap I throw in there. Sure, it may be heavy, but it's both stylish and functional. Backpacks are fine as well, just stick to plain colors. Picture yourself at a convention where you are presenting your research to hundreds of people in your field. Would your current bag look professional enough to earn you bonus points with your peers, and maybe even a future post-doc opportunity? If you're still using your high school backpack with stickers and glitter, the answer is NO.

Credit: The Northeast Girl
7. Layered Tops - This kind of goes along with cardigans. If you must wear a t-shirt (totally understandable on laundry day), then pair it with a denim jacket, cardigan, or even another top. Find some way to take that simple tee up a notch and distinguish you from the freshman in your classroom. Bonus points if you come up with an outfit even cuter than the one you were planning on wearing had that other top not been in the wash.

Credit: The Day Book Blog
8. Fun Jewelry - It can totally make or break an outfit. Feeling like your current outfit is "blah"? Add some gold bangles, a cute necklace, or if you're really brave, some giant, funkadelic earrings. Ta-Da! Not blah any more! Just make sure whatever you wear won't interfere with your work, and preferably isn't of great personal value to you. Because no one wants to call their grandmother to tell her her antique locket ended up in a beaker of acid...

Credit: What Would A Nerd Wear
9. Comfortable Shoes - Bonus if they're both cute and comfortable. Like these Dr. Scholl's Flats:

10. Mix and Match - Here's the fun part! Once you have the staples, you can mix and match them to create unique outfits, without going out and spending a fortune on new clothes (which everyone knows grad students don't have). This girl took 10 pieces of clothing (plus shoes and accessories), and made 14 unique outfits. Notice her staple clothing pieces? Exactly.

Credit: Putting Me Together

Well, I hope this helped you as much as it has me. I've been on both ends of the spectrum: dressing too professionally for a messy lab job, and dressing down so much I looked like just another freshman. There is a middle ground, and you will find it!

Anything you might add to my list? I can always use some new outfit ideas!

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