First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on getting into your swanky Master's program! I don't know you or your style personally, so I'm modeling my picks after someone that looks super-cool and put-together without looking like she's trying too hard–which is what you'd want to do– Jean Seberg in Breathless.
Does seeing pictures of Jean's perfect pixie-cut make you want to cut your hair short too? Not that you should do it, but hair is a good path to re-invention. I am now in the process of re-inventing myself with long hair though, so no matter how good those shorn locks look, I WILL NOT DO IT.
Ok, getting that outta the way, let's talk outfits, yes? I'm imagining a wardrobe full of smart separates that all look great with each other without having to take time out in the morning to match things. Because you will probably not have time in the mornings as you are probably pulling all-nighters and just trying not to look totally dead the next day. Not that you do that of course; you do all your work in a timely manner that leaves extra hours in the day for sleeping and partying and um... networking and whatnot.
BDG Breton 3-Stripe Tee $29, Urban Outfitters
Let's start with the basics. Striped shirts! I don't know what it is about a nice striped shirt that makes everyone look super chill and "dressed" even at their most casual. Boatnecks and 3/4 sleeves have less of a t-shirt vibe and more of a "top" vibe so you will look instantly more put together. And yes, I just said a tee is less of a tee and more of a top like it's a real thing. The way fashion people talk sometimes is ridiculous. You can never have too many striped shirts. At least that's what I tell myself all the time.
Chiffon Oversized Button-Up $58, American Apparel
I'm a big proponent of a button-down shirt, and an oversized sheer one can really take you to all your year-round activities. Wear a little tank top and tuck it into your high-waisted trousers for class and then wear just a bra and a skirt or jeans for your nights out. I would stick to the classic shades that go with everything like tan, navy and black.
A.OK Indigo Tight Jeans $98, OAK
If you notice back there, I subtly slipped in the "high waist" factor like it was no big deal. And it isn't. A high-rise style in a dark wash can really look like a nice "pant" and make your thrown-on jeans look really put together. I actually have these jeans and I went up one size so they wouldn't be a "jegging" (ugh, I hate that word), and I'm always amazed at how they can totally transform a look. I also love that they are a bit long on me and I can do a nice cuff when I wear them with flats.
P.S. If you are one of those lucky individuals that can rock a high-waist flared jean then DEFINITELY stick with it. They bring automatic cool/smart points. I don't know how and I don't know why, but they just do.
Sparkle & Fade Maxi Pleated Chiffon Skirt $59, Urban Outfitters
Another option for bottoms is skirts and lately I'm on board with Team The Longer The Better. I've seen many women rocking a maxi pleated skirt around the city lately, and it just always looks so cool! Just throw on your favorite tee and go.
And that's really the meat and potatoes of your grad-life wardrobe. Other things that are indispensable for a cool put-together look are cool cardigans, a blazer that you can throw on over all your casual stuff AND wear to job interviews, opaque tights in a variety of colors (but mostly a few pairs in black), and glorious, glorious shoes. A nice pair of oxfords is obviously essential (and scholarly!), but I'd also add the perfect pair of ballet flats and chunky boots to really bring it all together.
How does this sound? I hope awesome. Good luck on your new life!
Have an event coming up that you can't figure out what to wear? Let me help you. Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll figure it out!