A few days ago, a reader and former classmate of mine, Erin, contacted me about doing a fashion post on work-appropriate outfits. Erin and I went to elementary school together (I don’t think I have seen her since fourth grade—eleven years ago!), but I was so happy that she had reached out.
I have a confession: I sometimes buy articles of clothing for the job that I don’t have. I love working as a nanny, but I can’t exactly wear a three-piece suit to go rock climbing. I personally love dressing up, but since I don’t have a job that requires a professional look, I like to buy versatile pieces. Plus, tops or skirts that can transition from bar-appropriate to work-appropriate are easy on a student’s budget.
Though the dress code can vary between different work environments, there are some general guidelines that remain consistent. A conservative look is always the best way to go, especially if you are unsure of what is and isn’t acceptable. However, you don’t need to compromise your style—take pieces that you already own and cater them to your individual personality. If your workplace is on the traditional side, use accessories as a way to let your style shine through.
A knee-length skirt is a great item to own because it can be worn several different ways. For a simple look, pair it with a thin sweater or a tissue tee and a cute pair of flats. Add a blazer and a pair of heels if you need a more mature look.
Erin had mentioned that she wanted to incorporate a pair of suede wedges into an outfit, so I thought a sweater dress would be the perfect way to show them off. To avoid a too casual look, stick to wearing the shoes with a feminine outfit. You can easily wear a dress to work that you would wear to a party (as long as it isn’t too revealing), just wear it with a cropped jacket or a cute cardigan.
This look is a bit too casual for some workplaces, but if the dress code isn’t too strict, a silk blouse looks great with a pair of cords and boots. Add jewelry to the outfit to dress it up, or wear a colored pair of cords to make the outfit stand out more.
First look to your closet to see what items can already make a professional look, then splurge on pieces that will become essentials—like a blazer, a nice pair of dress pants, and a simple blouse.
How do you make your work attire more stylish?