The Graduation Edit: 12 Pieces Every New Grad Needs

Consider these the ultimate grad gifts (hint, hint).

Graduation clothes collage

Design by Erika Harwood

For college seniors, the spring before graduation is usually a time of existential crises and cleaning out your closet. Everything has a time and a place. High school graphic tees and university regalia had their moment, but after graduation, things change.

Once you could go to class in a full sweatsuit, but life after college may require a bit of a wardrobe transformation. Your style may shift as you mature and your identity develops further. Your career may call for a certain look.

I’m a soon-to-be college graduate with many friends who have already made this transition. Many of them were overwhelmed with the amount of clothes they parted ways with. For everyone, it was helpful to know some classic items to purchase and invest in.

Of all the changes, there are 12 style essentials for fresh college graduate. These items won't necessarily be for everyone who graduates, but they’re some core pieces you could find yourself needing after graduating college. Below, 12 staples every graduate needs for the next phase of life.

The Work Tote

The work tote is the new everything bag that does what your backpack probably didn’t. It’s strong, can carry a lot, is built to last years, and it’s stylish too. This is the bag that’ll take you from an early morning coffee to the after-work event. Our favorites keep in mind comfort, style, and sustainability.

The Everyday Bag

When the work tote is retired and the laptop is stowed away, your everyday bag gets you through the rest of the day. It’s what you grab while rushing out and know everything you need is already inside. We chose a range of options since everyone needs different things and has a different relationship to theirs. Whether you prefer a small crossbody or medium-sized satchel, look to both classic and emerging brands.

A Neck Scarf

If your style is starting to lean more timeless and elegant, there are few accessories more classic than a silk scarf. They are a perfect and easy way to accent your outfits and show off your personality. Scarves can be brimming with intricate stories and patterns, or you can keep it simple and go monochromatic. Whether you tie yours around your neck or bag handles, it’s a fun opportunity to flaunt your personality.

Trench Coat

Even if it gives you Sherlock Holmes vibes at first glance, the trench coat is a storied garment that’s never going out of style. It’s not just timeless in its typical beige color, but it has a variety of functional features that make it so easy to wear: High adjustability, flaps to deflect rain, and material loose enough to layer up. Some are even waterproof. You simply can’t go wrong.

Wool Coat

Puffer coats may have been trending this past winter, but a wool coat is a classic for the coldest of days. These coats are incredibly warm and usually offer more warmth around your legs too. We’re especially fond of wool coats made with recycled wool.

Dress Shirt

It’s helpful to keep a versatile shirt on deck. In elementary school, wearing a button-up may immediately give a look of dressing very formally, but after college, you can fall in love with just how versatile this essential is. Depending on the fabric of your shirt, it can be a casual daytime look, an evening outfit, or anything in between.

Versatile Blazer

The same way it’s helpful to have a dress shirt around, a versatile blazer also becomes an essential. In college, it’s common to have a blazer that you pull out for special occasions and interviews, but after college, it’s a lot more common to wear them for just about everything: Coffee, dinner, a walk with a friend. Having a well-fitted blazer means you can instantly slip into a power suit, upgrade any outfit, and be ready for whatever the day throws at you. Look to neutral options or more colorful ones, depending on your style.


Once you find the most flattering sunglasses for your face shape, invest in a pair that can become your new go-to. Whether you live in a sunny place or just like the anonymity of keeping your eyes covered, having your own essential pair levels up all your looks. We’re big fans of having more playful sunglasses, but you need a foundation first.

Black Heels

Black heels are versatile from day to night. It might be the perfect time to invest in a pair of well-crafted black heels that will last you for years to come. Think: Patent or soft leather? Higher or lower heel? Once you find the right pair, you'll never go back.


Thank goodness sneakers are in and here to stay. We find there are many days with little time where you need a comfortable and stylish shoe to throw on. Whether you opt for an all-white look or earthy tones, sneakers will always have your back.


Loafers are like sneakers without the laces. Often made with a leather material, these are also much more versatile in terms of wearing casually or more formal occasions. Plus, they don’t have a heel and often have cushioned insoles, making them a comfortable and stylish pick.


A belt is very much not just for function and holding your pants up. A belt is the small thing that can tie an entire outfit together. Because it’s the hidden powerhouse of the outfit, it’s important to keep some classics on deck. Neutral-colored leather belts are classic, but we don’t hesitate to play with logo-intense designer options.

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