You’ve lived at home under mom and dad’s roof. You made it through dorm life with its raucous parties, and eventually you graduated to an apartment with a girlfriend or two for the Master’s program. Hooray! You made it. Some fine institution said on paper that you are smart, you have ambition and determination—that you’re an adult now. It is time to have a place of your own.
Every girl has things that they cannot live without. Here are some of mine.
1. Good, classy furniture.
OK, IKEA gets a bad rap. They sell inexpensive, practical home furnishings that can turn a dump into a middle-class residence. And…IKEA sells plates, coffee mugs, glasses, houseplants, and so many other things that make a house a home.
At a minimum you should own:
A queen-size bed with a classy comforter and plush pillows. Nobody wants to see your old twin-size bed from home with its childish sheets.
An actual, honest-to-goodness sofa. Cloth, leather, faux leather—doesn’t matter. Please not a futon if possible. A pullout sofa is perfect for guests.
A dinner table that seats at least four, but preferably six. Dinner parties on the couch and coffee table don’t cut it after grad school.
A nightstand. This one means a lot. Besides being a place to put your phone at night, a nightstand also hides your trashy novel and lots of unmentionables when the perfect guy comes over.
2. Proper kitchen equipment.
You should have a set of matching plates, small plates, bowls, glasses, forks, knives, and spoons. Have a large bowl for salads, pots, pans, a toaster, a coffee maker, a collection of coffee mugs, a wine cork, a bottle opener, cooking/chef knives, and hopefully a few wine glasses. You really can’t drink wine in plastic or Dixie cups anymore.
3. An ironing board.
That might have been a shocker, but it will cost a ton of your hard-earned cash to take every single business item you own to a dry cleaner. I hate doing laundry and I really hate to iron clothes, but you want to look your best and money starts to spread thin when you are paying every bill yourself.
4. Business clothes.
Every job is different, so for the sake of this article we’ll assume you have an entry-level to mid-level job in corporate America. You should own a few pairs of business slacks in dark conservative colors. This is especially true for dark winter days when a dress or skirt keeps your knees shaking. About half a dozen mid-length skirts in a variety of colors. Simple is best, so you can mix and match with a variety of blouses. If you wonder what type of dress is appropriate for wearing at the office rather than at a picnic, simply Google an establishment that you would like to work for. If the 30-year-old press secretary at the State Department dresses a certain way you can bet it is going to work for you. You’ll want mostly classy flat shoes. A mid-length heel has a lot of appeal until you’ve worn it for eight to ten hours a day. Option items should include simple earrings, a classy leather watch, a necklace that doesn’t distract and opaque leggings or stockings for cold morning or mornings when shaving isn’t an option. As a matter of opinion I completely believe that leggings are pants, are acceptable in most occasions if worn nicely. I would certainly do a little research to see if your company considers them appropriate work attire.
OK the fun one:
5. Going-out clothes.
I would wear leggings, flip-flops, and my favorite old T-shirt and sport a bun everyday if I could, but I would appear drecky and not the amazing person I aspire to be. Still, I believe that we should all own a few pairs of dark jeans, khakis, nice shorts that don’t reveal everything, a few solid tank tops, nice fitted T-shirts, summer dresses (because summer dresses are amazing), cozy thick sweaters, and as many shoes as you can REASONABLY afford. I say this one either because I love shoes or because there really are shoes for every occasion. Gardening, the beach, the club, the romantic dinner, the run, the gym, the office, the date, the hike, the party, the wedding…you get the idea. If you live in a place that snows or rains a lot, you should invest in a good coat that you can wear to work and a big umbrella. The little ones work three times before they break in your purse or when it’s windy.
6. A tumbler.
Because coffee spills easily from a paper cup when you’re running to the bus, subway, or metro. I recommend a Starbucks tumbler because you could drop it from outer space and the coffee won’t spill or leak and it will probably still be hot when it you open it up.
7. A plan.
Everyone should have a basic idea where they want to go and how to achieve it. You do not have to be rigid with yourself, but benchmarks and mid- and long-term goals help you see the whole picture.
Your later twenties and thirties don’t have to be a time where you become boring and conventional while wishing you were back in college. You have arrived! You are young and modern, yet classy and timeless. You want the world to know that you’re fun but have a good head on your shoulders. These are my ideas—what are yours? Comments welcome.