When I graduated from college, I did not anticipate that I would have to completely overhaul my wardrobe.
Seriously, when it came to the internship and my job after graduation, I had no clothes to wear! That being said, my sense of style has changed to some extent over the past few years. Now it’s all flats, cute sandals and fun work dresses. Back in the ol’ college days, I spent almost every day of my life in (sadly) Uggs or some form of sneaker. Part of it was a safety issue (I’m incredibly clumsy and have a tendency to fall on a mountainous, icy campus) and the other part was that they were just super comfortable.
I like comfortable.
What did the rest of my attire look like as an undergrad? Jeans, college sweatshirt and some form of a fleece jacket. If I was feeling “fancy”, I would wear sandals and a nice tank top or shirt. Other than that, college was an exercise in getting the maximum result (looking cute) with minimal effort. I can honestly say that most of my days in college were spent looking scrubby and I’m okay with that because something has to give when you have to choose between sleeping and finding a cute outfit.
In retrospect, (looking at old Facebook photos) I’m amazed that I was so not into my clothes during college. I love clothes. I love all the pretty things that I can put on my body and all the cool things I can do with my hair and make-up. I’m not exactly sure what was going on with me. It was probably lack of sleep, weight gain (oh yes one day I’ll write all about that one because the Freshman 15 or 25 are real) and the overall disorder a busy schedule can wreak on your appearance.
Anyway, upon graduation, I realized that my current closet just wasn’t going to cut it. You can’t go to a business non-profit’s office in jeans and your college gear…well I wasn’t going to.
Suddenly, I had to look like a young professional and had no clothes to match this new image that I was trying to project. No one told me that this was going to happen!
Soon to be college graduates heed my advice; start looking for professional clothing staples now. It will give you the time to find what works for you and, most importantly, build up a solid wardrobe over time so that you don’t have to spend a lot of money at one time when you enter the workforce.
You may think that you know what you should wear in a professional environment, but trust me, “business casual” is the most ambiguous dress code ever. Start looking now. I know that it’s probably the last thing that you want to think about, but it’s going to make your life so much easier.
My best advice is not to ask your friends what you should wear. Also don’t always go by what others are wearing in your new office job. Being overdressed is never a bad thing. Go to a store and ask an associate because there are certain rules about dressing in a business environment that, although lame, are considered a standard. Case in point: skirts. If you want to wear a skirt, at the most, it can only be two inches above the knee. Bare legs are still looked at a little odd and if your shoe is more plastic or rubber then leather or suede rethink it. Dressing the part is not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done.