In 2018, it’s expected that nearly 2 million college graduates will enter the job market, and employers will hire fewer of those grads than last year. That means new graduates have more competition both during the interview process and as they’re trying to impress in the first weeks and months of their employment.

The way you dress in your interview and as you start your job can make a huge difference in whether you get hired and in how seriously your employer and peers take you once you’re on the job.

Young adulthood can be a difficult phase. You don’t want to dress in a stuffy suit, but the whimsical dresses and drawstring pants you went to class in are just too casual. Instead of stocking up on corporate wear that feels uncomfortable and does a number on your confidence, follow this guide to nailing your first professional wardrobe. (It’s not as difficult to pull off as you think–and it won’t break the bank!)

Dressing professionally
First, it’s important to keep it super simple. The simpler your wardrobe is, the easier it will be to mix and match pieces and make the most of each one. Here are some of the essentials you need in your closet:

  • A tailored black suit or dress (if you go for the dress, you’ll also want a pair of nice black trousers)
  • Several blouses in various colors that go with your black trousers. Choose silk, printed and solid colors, both long and short sleeved.
  • A professional-looking bag.
  • A lighter-colored skirt suit in two pieces so you can mix and match.
  • A professional, knee-length dress or two
  • Woven button-down shirts in white and in printed styles. These are fun to wear with the sleeves rolled up and/or with a knot tied in the front.
  • One pair of polished, closed-toed shoes and a pair of ballerina flats. Avoid pumps because they’re typically awkward on more youthful professionals.

Your professional capsule wardrobe should consist of about 15 pieces, not including accessories. When you shop around classic separates and fun tops, it’s easy to grow your wardrobe as you start to earn a steady income.

It’s important to recognize that not everything in your current closet is going to be appropriate for a professional job, even if the dress code is corporate casual. Take some of the decision fatigue out of the equation by dividing your closet into three different sections: work, play and weekend.