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Your lifestyle, your quirk
Graduating and moving on to the working world comes with more than its fair share of transitions. One of the most visible of these changes is in one’s wardrobe. As someone in this position right now, I can with certainty say that getting used to crisply ironed collars and heels instead of cutoff sweats and hoodies is going to be a challenge. However, I do enjoy feeling like a big girl from time to time, and constructing a professional look is the first step towards propelling your career forward. You’ve heard the “dress like the job you want” adage, right? Well, it’s not an old wives’ tale; bosses tend to give more responsibility to people they feel will represent the company well, and that security starts with your appearance.
Most young graduates have a couple interview outfits and nothing else. When starting from scratch like this, it’s best to buy staples instead of trying to purchase entire outfits. You’re probably on a tight budget, and solid staples will work well together anyway.
Since we’ve addressed the budget issue, I’ll also take this opportunity give you a piece of advice that may be hard to follow at first: Invest in quality pieces. I know it may seem tempting to get three skirts for the price of one somewhere cheaper, but quality clothing lasts longer and elevates your whole wardrobe. At the very least, make sure your clothing fits like a glove or is tailored to do so. I don’t care if you dropped $500 on a blazer; ill-fitting clothes look less expensive.
As far as what you should invest in, try to purchase four trousers, three skirts, five button-downs or other nice blouses, and two pairs of neutral pumps, (or flats, if your office will allow it). That should be more than enough to sustain you for the early days, and leave you free to buy uniquely cool pieces as you go along.
One way to update office basics is to look for the small details that set a piece apart. Blue pinstripes, a looser black dress with form-fitting belts, or funky necklines are just a few possibilities when considering stepping up your classics. Take a cue from the nature of your profession when deciding just how much to push traditional boundaries. For instance, an art instructor or graphic designer probably has a bit more wardrobe autonomy than perhaps an accountant or banking executive.
You’ve done the hard work by landing the job, so let your clothing choices be a platform for expressing your diligently creative personality.