(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Ben Jarzombek, Mount Carmel

For students who wear school uniforms, morning routines tend to pick up a very familiar pattern with very familiar clothes. While the argument over whether school uniforms should exist has been the subject of many an ACT writing section prompt, the fact is that many students will walk across the stage at graduation having worn the same outfit day-in-and-day-out for four years (or more). For some, this transition means having to actually create a wardrobe of clothes to wear every day. Whether you’re starting from scratch or just looking to refresh your closet, here’s a handy guide to ditching your school uniform for good.

The Basics

Assuming you already have a basic wardrobe, you may have these covered. The basics of your wardrobe are the most versatile pieces of clothing you own. If you don’t have these, definitely think about picking them up.


Depending on who you ask, the basics of a guy’s wardrobe can vary widely. However, the building blocks of a respectable 2016 wardrobe have something for everyone:  slim dark jeans, colored chinos or tailored sweats on bottom, and slimmer (not skin-tight) tees, sweaters, hoodies and collared shirts on top. Footwear is tough, but stick with some minimalist sneakers (read: clean and refined), chukka boots and dress shoes to start.


After some research (I am, admittedly, not a girl), wardrobe essentials for girls vary even more than guys. However, there are some mainstays. Simple tees, a white collared shirt and sweaters are great starts for tops. On the bottom, skinny jeans and leggings ranked high, with skirts and trendier items (flared soft pants and boyfriend jeans) also being popular. Your footwear should cover the bases for most situations: sneakers, flats, heels and boots tend to work for almost any outfit you need.

Step up your game

Once you’ve mastered the basics and feel good about your choices, there’s still some more work to be done. Sometimes a sweater and jeans just won’t cut it, so read on to make sure you can dress for any occasion.


Formalwear for guys can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Khakis and slacks are great additions for elevating any outfit, as are sweaters and a simple collared shirt. However, two formalwear mainstays are the navy blazer and a simple suit. The navy blazer can be thrown over a tee and jeans or dressed up with a shirt, tie and dress pants or khakis. Your suit should be navy or gray, two-buttoned and slim. If you’re new to formalwear, read online about how to fit a suit. You’ll thank yourself later.


Just like guys, girls have many options for dressing up that don’t include putting on a dress. Though, the little black dress is a staple piece that shouldn’t be ignored. If you aren’t looking to wear a dress, there are still plenty of great pieces that elevate your look. Skirts, blouses and collared shirts are always great options, but trendier pieces like bodysuits and rompers make great additions, whether formal or casual.

To splurge or not to splurge

When it comes to building a wardrobe, some things will tend to take precedent over others. Buying a more expensive piece over its cheaper alternative may not be the best route for every purchase, but it can be worth it for pieces you know you’ll love. Whether for jackets, jewelry, shoes, watches, bags or suits, spending a lot on something for your wardrobe all depends on how much you’ll wear it and how much you like it. It may not be a great idea to shell out several hundred dollars for a really trendy piece, but if you save up for something that you can see yourself with for a long time, the investment might just be worth it.

At the end of the day, this article is full of suggestions. The most important thing to remember when building a wardrobe is filling it with clothes that you want to wear. Besides, why buy something you wouldn’t want to put on? Haven’t you been doing that already?

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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