And just like that, it’s already time for school to commence again! Well, not for me, but for all the kiddos and college students out there. I’m finding it a little hard to believe that I have been done with graduate school for exactly a year and two months NOW. While I miss the idea and routine of school, I don’t actually miss “school.”  Well, I do miss shopping for new highlighters, colorful index cards and of course new clothes for class. I’m not sure if you gals and guys know this or not, but I’ve kinda attended graduate school twice. I attended New York University and studied Performing Arts Administration and landed my dream internship at New York City Ballet. While I loved the City and everything it has to offer, in my year there, I realized that Peforming Arts Administration was not what I wanted to do longterm. Thanks to the continual integration of fashion + dance at the ballet (and a $60,000 per year tuition bill and some push from Jason), I knew that fashion was what I really wanted to do longterm. Without making this post 5 million years long, I ended up studying Luxury and Fashion Management at Savannah College of Art and Design.

While I most definitely lost $60k from that one year at NYU (currently paying for that now…student freaking loans), I learned soooooooo much about myself.  One of the things I really value from my experience at NYU was learning how to make my wardrobe work for me as a graduate student. I lived in a tiny sunroom turned bedroom with no closet space in Astoria, NY and was expected to dress like a mod prof (modern professional) on the daily, as I was in gradute school. Oh, and did I mention, I didn’t have a whole lot of extra money! I mean…my groceries cost me like $125 per week, but that’s another story for another day!  Needless to say, I learned some wardrobe hacks or tips if you will on how to be perfectly stylish as a graduate student who is often running to and fro.

I. The No Denim Situation: While working at New York City Ballet, one of the dress code standards included NO DENIM. Mod prof or not, everyone loves their denim. In fact, as a graduate student it is often much easier to find affordable denim than dress pants. However, in my quest to make things work, I learned that BLACK DENIM (or really any colored denim) is a perfect way to kinda dance around the “no denim situation.”  What is most important about this look hack is how you style the denim! You want to dress it up as much as possible so the look isn’t highly casual. One great way of doing that is pairing your black denim with a sophisticated top or a top that has some detail happening, so the focus stays up! Additionally, adding a statement piece of jewelry will also help with keeping the attention up, rather than down! This type of look is pretty for days when you have class + your internship on the same day…you want to be decently causal, since you will be in the same outfit for nearly 12 to 15 hours but still look professional!

If you are looking to create a look like this, you should most definitely check out both J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch. Abercrombie & Fitch is killing it in the denim department these days. And of course J. Crew is known for this classically sophisticated variety of tops. Oh, did I mention accessories?! J.Crew has some killer statement jewelry pieces, like the oval drop earrings above.

II. The Adult Bookbag: Thank goodness backpacks are in style, but there are points in a graduate student’s career when you feel like you need an adult bookbag. And by adult bookbag, I mean a bag that looks highly sophisticated, holds a ton and matches a variety of outfits. Call me crazy but a killer bag (handbag, tote, suitcase, etc.) literally makes me feel like I can take on the world. lol. No but really, I feel very strongly that a bag is an accessory that completes your look, especially for us gals. Finding a bag that is stylish, as well as multifunctional, is the ultimate score for a graduate student!

When searching for a young professional bag, you really want to find something that is durable and will be long lasting. One brand that I would highly suggest you consider is Fossil. Their goods are 100% leather and can be personalized! What I love most about this tote pictured above is that it is rubberized leather, which means it will be super long lasting and not so fragile!

III. Summer Dress to Office Dress: Maybe it’s just me, but I have always had a slew of summer dresses. Additionally, I’ve never been one to purchase more “traditional” office dresses. With that in mind, I was always looking for ways to take my summer purchases and convert them into office wear…after all…you just can’t wear a spaghetti strap dress into the office or class…it’s just not right. LOL. One of my style hacks to converting a summer dress to an office dress is to layer it with an ultra feminine cardigan (the cut of the cardigan depends on the dress style). For this particular summer dress from Abercrombie & Fitch, I layered her with the Jackie Sweater from J. Crew. To jazz up the look, I added a few personal accessories that I felt worked and of course I layered on the adult bookbag. One of the things I love most about summer dress to office dress looks is that you can wear the exact same dress on the weekend casually and then you can also style for other seasons by simply layering even more. This dress could totally be styled for late fall by adding the linen lace up sweater from Look 1 and a pair of tights and off the knee boots! Just an idea.

As you find yourself shopping for class and your internships, approach your graduate school style practically! What is going to give you the most versatility? Let that be your guide. And don’t be afraid to mix and match! I promise it won’t fail you. Now go forth and conquer this back to school shopping at Polaris Fashion Place, of course! Lots of great store options to help you tackle some of the graduate school style hacks in this very post!

P.S. And enjoy these last few moments of summer! It will be December before you have a true break again : )

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This post is kindly brought to you by Polaris Fashion Place. All thoughts and opinions remain my own. 


  1. I had no idea you were a SCAD student, Candace! I almost attended undergrad there for interior design until I changed my major a few months before I was supposed to move there.

    I’m not a grad student, but I love these outfits and tips for running between classes and an internship. The blocked heels you’ve styled with the dress are very practical, yet on trend (P.S. Can block heels please stay in style forever?!). Regardless of what season you’re in, whether you’re a student or a young professional, I think the key to building a perfect wardrobe on a budget is ALL about versatility!

    Thanks for the helpful tips!

    XO, Emily
    Epicurean Emily

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