As we make the transition from college life to the working world, it is important that we be mindful of our clothing choices and what they say about us.
Our personal style reflects our brand, how we want to be perceived, and what we want to accomplish. It’s also a time to experiment with different items of clothing and what we feel most comfortable but still professional in. Sticking to one trendy look, piece or print can represent us. Don’t forget that we also represent the company as well!
A key determinant in our work wear is the dress code of the office. Sometimes this can be scoped out by visiting their social media and other times it may be explained before you start. Is the company business professional year round wearing suits, stockings, and close-toed shoes or is it a more relaxed business casual with colored shirts, blouses, cardigans and conservative shoes?
Business professional usually means quiet muted colors. This type of dress is usually preferred in the finance, accounting, and engineering industries.
On the other hand, business casual is still formal but not quite as restrictive as it does not require a blazer or full on suit. It can still be professional with a coordinating sweater or nice dress or skirt.
The BBC has some helpful information about professional dress in different parts of the world and even within the United States. For example, the east coast takes on a more preppy look with leather shoes and pressed slacks being the noticeable differences. Unlike, further out west where it is common to encounter more casual and even “outdoorsy” attire in the workplace. This look would include nice jeans, boots, vests or jackets. Keep in mind that business casual varies by industry. Banking and finance are more conservative and professional while technology and entertainment companies may find their employees wearing jeans and t-shirts (Steve Jobs?) and maybe even a Hawaiian shirt.
Some of my favorite stores to shop for work clothes include Talbots, Banana Republic, LOFT and the Limited, which is no longer in business, RIP.
Below are some professional pieces currently in stores to jumpstart or add to any wardrobe.
Be sure to check out my “career clothes” pinterest board for more of my favorites!
Graphic Created by Jasmine Meurer