Transitioning from college to the workplace isn’t easy. You’re out in the business world and your jeans and sweatshirt aren’t going to cut it. So not only are you trying NOT to trip up on the job, you’ve got to worry about looking the part too.
Some people are lucky enough to work for companies that take a more laid back approach to office style. Some folks aren’t so lucky. Their work wardrobe can be completely different (and WAY more formal) than anything they’d normally wear.
Yikes!! What’s an intern to do when they’re coming from the laid back and relaxed style of college, to taking on the working world? Here are 3 easy steps you can take for building your business wardrobe.
Step 1: Research
A little research can go a long way. Before you start your internship, go online and do some research on the company culture. If you find out what the company’s dress code is, you can make sure you look the part from the get go.
There are two different types of dress codes:
1. Business Casual
If this is the dress code of your company, your work wardrobe should be smart and polished, but you don’t need to show up in a suit everyday. This dress code is most common in start-ups (they love taking a casual approach to office style) and areas such as advertising, tech, retail and design, PR, journalism, and increasingly in some areas of Marketing.
2. Business Professional
Is more conservative and formal than business casual. These are the companies where you’ll need to dust off those suits or (below the knee) pencil dresses and skirts. If you’re interning in finance, accounting, law, and even some marketing firms, you’ll probably have a business professional dress code.
Step 2: Invest In Versatile Pieces
Wouldn’t we all love a bottomless bank account to keep updating our wardrobe? Unfortunately for me (and maybe you?) intern bank accounts aren’t so shopping friendly. But do you know what is? Investing in some key versatile pieces (in neutral colors). This is one sure fire way to make sure you get more bank for your buck. You’ll look like you have a wardrobe way bigger than what you actually have.
Every great wardrobe should have a mix of neutral colored basics and one or two more colorful (stand out) pieces (have you heard Barbara Corcoran’s pink blazer story?). The basics pieces will form the foundation of your wardrobe and are worth spending those extra few $$$ on, if you really want them to last. What type of pieces should you invest in for you intern wardrobe?
Suits: If you are working in a more formal company, investing a great suit is a must. And the investment really will be worth it. Not only will you be able to wear a suit to work and networking events, but you will also need it for events like graduations and weddings.
Separates: Investing a few different shirts, ties (for a business professional dress code), sweaters, and one or two pairs of extra trousers will give you so much choice when it comes to dressing for your job. Again, buying neutral pieces will pay off. The more neutral your clothes, the more you can mix and match.
Suits: Some girls love them, some girls hate them. If you work in a super conservative environment, then maybe wearing a suit is a must. If not, then you can really have fun investing in some great separate pieces.
Separates: Work for every dress code. No girls’ wardrobe is complete without one great blazer (really invest in this, it will last forever!), some tailored (black) trousers, the perfect white blouse and a killer pencil skirt. Simple dresses can also be a lifesaver and will be great for those days when dressing yourself is too much like hard work.
Step 3: Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!
Accessories can make or break an outfit, and they can be a great way to show off your personality too. Love color? Add a pop of color with your shoes or bag. Statement pieces, like a great watch, will polish up your outfit for a sleek office ready look.
Ladies, one quick tip with your shoes, if you’d wear them clubbing, they aren’t right for the office.
I know what you’re thinking? How the hell am I going to afford all these pieces? You don’t have to break the bank. Stores like H&M, Zara and ASOS (online) have the perfect pieces for your wardrobe, that won’t leave you eating beans on toast for the next month.