Fashion Attire Ideas for Young Women in the Professional Working World
The casual wardrobe of jeans, sweat pants, logo t-shirts, and hoodies that many students adopt during high school and college is no longer appropriate when they reach the post-college professional working world. There is still a place for casual attire, but it's time to build up the rest of the wardrobe. This is tough when you're just starting out in your new career and don't have a lot of extra funds. We don't all win $5,000 to shop with Stacey and Clinton on What Not to Wear. Think about what you will need the most in your new job and start from there. Then continue to grow your wardrobe as you can. I've outlined the categories of clothing that you should consider during this process.
Dark Wash Jeans
Dark wash jeans are flattering for just about every body type and provide versatility that many other washes do not provide. Stay away from jeans that are pleated, tapered, and/or high waisted. I prefer flared jeans, but there are lots of styles to choose from. Research what will work best for your body type.
- The Best Jeans for Your Shape | Real Simple
Expert picks the most flattering styles for casual, dressy, and office wear.
- Women's Jeans & Denim Guide | Nordstrom
See our guide to women's jeans for every body type at Nordstrom.com.
- Types of Jeans for Women (terminology: cut, rise, etc.) | eHow.com
Tips for Wearing Jeans if You're Petite
Suits and Dress Pants
Again, stay away from anything that is pleated or tapered and consider the cut. I prefer boot cut or other straight leg cuts for dress pants. There are lots of different neutrals out there for dress pants (i.e. navy, gray). Don't feel limited to black. Also look for subtle prints like pinstripe. When you purchase dress pants, check the labels. I like to avoid dry cleaning whenever possible. If you don't have a job that requires a suit, don't rush out and buy one just because you feel like you should. However, you may want one for interviews.
Skirts and Dresses
Personally I prefer to wear skirts to work and to wear dresses for other occasions (Easter, weddings, etc.). If you don't wear a lot of skirts and/or dresses, try on a variety of them. You won't know what a lot of dresses will look like on you until you try them on. You may be surprised by what you like. Consider the shirts and jackets in your wardrobe. If you have a lot of patterned shirts, look for solid color skirts or vice versa if you have a lot of solid color shirts.
Look for t-shirts without logos in interesting cuts, polo shirts (short or long sleeved), long sleeved shirts that you can layer or not, and button down shirts that you can dress up or down. Consider different colors, patterns, and cuts. if you already own a lot of blue shirts, look for purples, greens, and pinks. If most of your shirts have V-necks, look for scoop necks and collars.
- Reader question: What’s the best T-shirt for my body shape? | Fashion advice from The Closet Coach
Every closet can use a great T-shirt (or more!). Here's how to find the best T-shirt for your body shape, whether pear, apple, busty, tall or not.
- Tank Tops (stylefeeder.com)
Cardigans and Layering Pieces
Cardigans are one of my wardrobe staples. They are very versatile. Consider different cuts and colors. My personal favorite store for cardigans is Ann Taylor Loft.
A fitted jacket can provide a dressier alternative for the cardigan. You can dress a great jacket up or down. It's easy to grab for a spring or fall evening out and is much more stylish than the go-to college hoodie.
Leather Jacket or Dressy Coat
This is a more expensive wardrobe piece but can be considered an investment. A good dress coat can easily last for ten to 15 years when cared for properly. Leather jackets, pea coats, and trench coats will take you through multiple seasons and numerous events and occasions.
Variety of Casual and Dressy Shoes
Don't just rely on sneakers and flip flips. Think about what shoes you'll need at work. Not all jobs require the same shoes. Consider other occasions that you'll need different options for shoes as well.
I have never been into purses, but I did get rid of my key chain ID and started using a purse after undergrad. It's definitely an essential item for any professional woman. There is a very wide price range for purses. You do not need to run out and buy a designer bag if you don't want to, but there's nothing wrong with one either. It's completely up to you. Take time and explore your options.
If you love your current hair length, you don't have to change it drastically. Consider other changes that may add a professional edge to your look such as a side part, bangs, and/or layers. If you don't know where to start, there are numerous pictures to browse online. You can also talk to your hair stylist. I've gotten great advice from hair stylists about the best layering techniques for my hair and the shape of my face.
5 Fun Quick Easy Hairstyles in Under 1 minute
Make up is in no way my area of expertise so I won't go into a lot of detail in this area. However, I still believe that it's important to develop a 5 minute routine for work and weekly tasks (errands, etc.) with a few ways to play it up for going out or fancier events. I've learned most of my make up routines from friends. If you're looking for tips on specific techniques, there are lots of video tutorials online. You can also get wonderful advice from salons and department store make up counters.
5 Minute Makeup
If you've been following my articles, you probably already know that I love both wearing and making jewelry. I also know that it's not for everyone and that even people who do enjoy jewelry also have specific tastes. For example, I love chunky bracelets but not chunky necklaces. If you haven't worn a lot of jewelry, experiment with different pieces and decide what works the best for you and your work environment. One or two pieces of jewelry that coordinates with your outfit is all you need to make your look "pop."
- Mailing and email lists. Get on the mailing lists for your favorite stores and watch for sales. You can get many items at a discounted price if you use e-mail coupons or take advantage of special sales.
- Outlet malls. Outlet malls are another way to get new clothes from some of your favorite stores or designers at discounted prices. Google outlet malls in your area. If there aren't any nearby, search vacation spots the next time you're heading somewhere.
- Mix it up. Don't let yourself get stuck in a fashion rut. Continue to experiment with different styles. And most importantly, have fun!
More resources for young professionals from the author.
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