College is such an exciting (and scary) time, as we are all figuring out what to do with our lives. No matter what you’re going into, whether it is finance on Wall Street, fashion in Milan, or the peace corps, chances are you will have to be professional at some point in your job searching process. I am currently pledging a business fraternity (Delta Sigma Pi), and we have talked a lot about business appropriate attire, and I thought I would pass on this information to you guys. In part one of this article, I will discuss business professional attire. Part 2 will deal with business casual attire, and Part 3 will give some ideas for business appropriate hair and makeup.
Most of us living on a college budget cannot remotely afford to just go out and buy a whole new business wardrobe, but if you get just one piece at a time, it is not so bad. Here are the pieces I suggest you accumulate over time for a versatile working wardrobe:
- 1 suit(s)
- 1-2 pairs of dress pants or pencil skirts
- 3-4 blouses (2 conservative, 1-2 a little wilder)
- 1 professional dress
- 1-2 blazers
- skinny belt (1/2 inch width)
- headband/hair clips
- 2 pairs of work heels (Flats are okay too, but heels are more professional, and make you feel confident!)
- a conservative bag
The more confident you are going into your interview or job, the better off you’ll be, and there are few better ways to boost confidence than to like the way you look. Try to keep everything you buy very classic instead of trendy, especially the suit.
The suit is going to be the biggest investment you’ll make, so you don’t want them to be “out” in a few years, after you spent good money on them. I would advice you buy quality pieces (i.e. not Charlotte Russe/Forever21), as your working wardrobe can last you years! Y
ou can find nice, quality business clothes at many stores; my favorites include Ann Taylor, The Limited, United Colors of Benetton, Victoria’s Secret and Express. Be careful at Express and Victoria’s Secret though, as some of their styles are very trendy/sexy and not conservative enough. You can find great bargain pieces at H&M, Macy’s, Dillard’s, and Belk as well.
I would also advise that you try these things on before you buy them, as tailoring and fit is important. Here are some suggestions for each pieces. I can personally recommend the brown blazer (if you have a brown skirt, or brown pants), the black pumps and the white blouse. They are wonderful. If you are uncomfortable in heels, conservative flats will work as well. Also, if you are not a fan of thigh high stockings, regular pantyhose are fine too!
Pants ($50), Suit ($130), Skirt ($60), Super Steal! ($65)
Pink Blouse ($50), Blazer ($78), Dress ($60), White Blouse ($28)
Belt ($38), Headband ($7), Hair Clips & Bobby Pins ($3 each)
Thigh Highs ($9), Black Pumps ($60), Nude Pumps ($80), Black Tote ($35)
Guidelines for Business Professional Wear
- ALWAYS wear pantyhose with a skirt when you need to dress business professionally.
- When sitting, skirts and dresses should only come up your leg “a dollar’s length.”
- Shoes need to be closed-toe.
- Keep your hair out of your face.
- Fashionable is okay, but if any piece of your outfit resembles lingerie, it is probably bad news.
- Keep your makeup clean and to a minimum.
- For business professional, ALWAYS wear a blazer with a dress.
- Wear clothes that are way too tight.
- Wear really wild prints or ridiculous colors.
- Show any cleavage.
- Wear sexy pumps.
- Wear lots of jewelry. Instead, keep it simple and elegant.
- Put on strong perfume.
What Do You Think?
What do you think? Do you have any questions? Do you guys have any advice for staying stylish while dressing conservatively? Let us know by leaving a comment!