The thing I miss most about graduate school is the dress code: Not only could I get away with wearing anything, but having worked for six years prior to entering my Ph.D. program I took full advantage of that fact. Colored tights, ridiculous dresses, hats, and outrageous outfits that would only be appropriate on a college campus or a bus bench were de rigueur.
When it came time for me to go back to work I wanted to assemble a wardrobe on a budget. That meant starting by shopping my own closet and building a thrift store fabulous collection of basics, and my previous post provided exhaustive detail and some great links on how to do that. But I think the concept of shopping your own closet really deserves more attention.
Most former graduate students have clothes that we don't think of as work clothes. Now some of it is just what we could afford as students, and should be happily sent off to a second life at Buffalo Exchange or the local Salvation Army. But some of it can be subtly mixed with classic career wear pieces to create a look I affectionately refer to as Business Casual Hippy. Worn alone the pieces may be a fireable offense, but layered under a cardigan with a black suit skirt, or paired with a nice blazer they may be a nice compliment to what would otherwise be some very dull business casual. It may not be possible in the most formal of workplaces, but in small quantities you can still totally rock skulls and tie dye.