Five Outfits Every 20-Something Needs in Her Closet

Ladies, your twenties are all about finding out who you are and making tons of decisions. Among those, trying to come up with outfits every day, sometimes multiple times a day, risking that moment of dread that happens as you peruse your belongings: All your dresses are too casual or too fancy. It’s too cold for bare legs, but still too warm for tights. Your jeans are a decade old, and nothing matches!

If this sounds anything like your inner thought process, listen up, because these five staples are a great starting point for every 20-something’s closet.

An interview outfit

I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot of time in my early 20s interviewing for jobs. There’s nothing more exciting than getting that call—but then it hits, that punch to your gut when you realize you have nothing to wear. Eliminate that panic by having a go-to interview outfit. This way, you can focus all your attention on mentally prepping for your interview (and updating your portfolio), instead of wasting effort on scrambling to put together an outfit.

But, not every job is going to require the same kind of outfit, so make sure you know what your industry dress code is. I once got the advice that you should be dressing for the job you want, not the job you’ll get. For example, I go to work every day wearing jeans, but my designated interview outfit is a dress, boots, and a blazer.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to show off your personality with your accessories (purse, shoes, jewelry), but do keep your interview outfit on the conservative side. Too-short hemlines and cleavage-baring necklines aren’t professional: there’s a place for them, but not at an interview!

For a more in-depth look, check out “Hirin’ Attire: Job Interview Wardrobe Tips.”

An LBD and FMPs

My two favorite acronyms: Little Black Dress and Fuck Me Pumps. Don’t roll your eyes. Just accept it for what it is. Every woman should have them.

No matter your style, a little black dress is an important wardrobe item. It can be used for practically any event – dates, nights out on the town with the girls, dinner parties, weddings, etc. The dress can reflect your personality: there’s no “right” LBD, just the right one for you.

FMPs are equally important. These are the shoes that make your legs look amazing, and you feel like a super model in them. These are the shoes that your date sees and immediately thinks about defiling you… with the shoes on. Even if you think heels aren’t necessarily for you, give them another try. Heels come in all kinds of heights and styles, and I’m sure you can find a great pair that gives you that extra boost.

Pro Tip: Invest in a pair of Dr. Scholl’s cushioned insoles for your FMPs. They will change your thoughts about heels and discomfort forever.

Jeans that show off your assets

I’m sure you already have jeans in your closet, but everyone should have a great pair that can make any outfit.

Keep the following in mind:

First, they should be dark wash. Light wash jeans were all the rage in the 80s; medium wash in the 90s; but, dark wash jeans are here to stay. They’re the most flattering: they’re slimming and stream-lining, and they can be paired with any top in all the lands. Dress them up with a silky top for night, or wear a tank top, and flip flops for a warm day.

Second, they should be tailored. Make sure you get jeans that fit. No matter what your body type is, there is a pair of jeans out there for you, waiting for you to find them. When you try them on, make sure you use a 360° mirror to check out what you look like from every angle. If they’re long, pay a few extra dollars and get them hemmed. It really does make a difference.

Last, they should be nice. Use your own discretion as to what that means, but I have converted even my most frugal friends to the ways of designer jeans, because they fit better and last longer. Designer jeans are made from better material, so they won’t wear out in a few months like non-brand ones.

Pro Tip: If you’re not willing to shell out big bucks (or you simply can’t afford it), places like Loehmann’s or Nordstrom Rack frequently have great brands on sale. Or, go try on an expensive pair in the store to find the size/style for you, then buy them cheaper online at Bluefly, Overstock, or eBay. Used clothing stores like Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet are also good places to try if you don’t mind doing a little hunting.

A matching set of sexy bra and underwear

As a 20-something, it’s highly likely you are either dating or in a relationship. And there may come a point where you’ll take your clothes off in front of someone else. When the time comes, don’t be wearing old, threadbare, or mismatched underwear. It’s important to have a sexy set that makes you feel confident—something that you’d want to show someone else.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be crazy risqué. No need for a red, lacy, see-through set: just have something that makes you feel sexy and self-assured. I actually feel more attractive when I wear matching underwear, so I’ve invested in several matching sets for a daily basis. But, I still have a different “fancier” set for special occasions.

A cozy pair of sweats

In stark contrast to fancy undergarments, it’s equally important to have a cozy pair of sweats to wear around the house. Your twenties can be hectic, and sometimes, my favorite activity is just staying in all day and catching up on TV. The best thing for those days is a pair of comfy sweats.

I have a friend who was in such dire need of them (and so ready to get out of her jeans), she stopped in the middle of a road trip to get a pair from Target. She now changes into them as soon as she gets home from work each day.  Your sweats should be the most comfortable thing you can imagine putting on after a long day at the office. Or the perfect thing to wear while reading on the couch, drinking tea, and snuggling with your dogs (you just got an insider look at my Saturdays).

Because, really, your 20s are all about finding what makes you comfortable and learning how to balance that with how you present yourself to the outside world. And, while learning how to be your best self, it’s important to look the part.

Photo by Charlotte Lewis

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  1. So true about jeans! I don’t know if Levi’s counts as designer, but I got 4 pairs of $60 at a blowout sale at their Outlet for $20-30 each. They fit so much better and, even though they’re thinner material, they don’t wear out in 3 months like the cheap $12 jeans I kept buying from Kohl’s!

    • I totally agree about Levi’s—especially for the fit. The jeans I would get at Gap were super thin and all the ones I’ve gotten at Levi’s haven’t worn out quickly and fit amazing because they have different “curve IDs” which is crucial for my small waist and big hips.

  2. You are so right about the designer jeans bit. Four years ago, my cousin talked me into spending almost $400 on two pairs of jeans (And I’m a grad student! AAAAH!!!) because I was mad that my $40-$100 pairs kept stretching out or falling apart. I was stunned that people actually pay that much for pants, and I was sure I would return them, but I still have both pairs, they still look great, and I haven’t bought any other jeans since— not “any other brand” or “any other kind”; any other JEANS, period. So when you factor in foregone expenditures on cheap, short-lived jeans, I’m pretty sure the designer ones paid for themselves.

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