Thursday, May 03, 2012

What to Wear: To Work

One of the (many) harsh realities of being a grown up is having to adopt a "business casual" wardrobe. I worked for two years in college as a marketing intern and had to dress business casual when I went into the office. However, my two-hours-a-day-intern wardrobe did not translate to a full-time-professional wardrobe. Thankfully, I work in an environment where there is not a strict dress code, and each department gets to determine their dress code based on their specific role within the organization. That being said, I work under a Vice President, so I have to dress the part. Likewise, some computer programmers in my building can wear jeans.

So, you land a job; learn the dress code, what's next? Well, if you're like me, you have a whole closet full of clothes but you're standing there saying, "I have nothing to wear!" (Reagan's favorite words...)

1. Take inventory. Since I majored in business, worked in college, and participated in a business club in high school, I had most of the "basics." I had black pants, pencil skirts, and the basic white button down. Also, before I started interviewing, my parents bought me a real, live suit. Once you start working, however, you realize that what you seldom wore in college, you have to wear every day at work. I had to figure out what exactly I needed to have a complete business casual closet.

2. Find a balance. I'm 23 years old, love to shop, play with make-up and tease my hair. Not everyone in the work world appreciates neon pink lipstick and the top not. I've had to find the middle ground between dressing my age, looking trendy, and not getting weird stares around the office. I am by far the youngest person in my office, and I don't want to attract the wrong kind of attention. My "balance" generally means wearing solid colors (I don't wear a lot of prints anyway) with flashy shoes or jewelry.

3. It doesn't happen all at once.  I've been employed full time for almost a year now, and I still think "I need (insert item here) to wear to work."  Every time I shop now I have to ask myself, "Could I wear this to work?" No matter how cute the jewelry, blouse, or shorts are, if I can't wear it to work it's not worth it. (Outfitting my law school husband is a different story because all of a sudden he has competitions! internships! speaking events! and needs 15 suits. That's a different post, a different time.)

I will be in the office most of the day this summer, but I can't wait to break out the bright colors. Neon lipstick included!

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