So you’re just out of college. Or worse, you’re still in college. And you have finally landed your first job in an office. You have graduated from the t-shirt and jeans of a minimum wage smoothie maker, and walked into the sports coat and heels of a paper pusher. Congratulations!
Now what do you wear?
You probably have one solid “interview” outfit and a few random pieces that look like you stole them from your mom’s closet. But you probably feel awkward, over or under dressed, and like you’re just playing at being a big kid.
I’ve got a secret: we’re all just playing at it. But dress for the part, and soon you’ll be three-hole punching like a champ.
But getting big kid clothes is hard. They’re expensive. You want to get things that will last, but you don’t want to be a 20-year old in a power suit. The trick is to stay simple: get good products cheap, get things that you can integrate into your normal wardrobe, and splurge here and there on one REALLY good piece that will last you through forever.
You’re young. You want to look awesome. You want to show off your fashion. But aztec prints and stilettos don’t belong in an office. I’ve pulled together some (totally affordable!) totally fashionable, and totally office appropriate looks that can all be broken up and put into different outfits.
Shirt: Forever 21 $20
Skirt: Forever 21 $25
Heels: Charlotte Russe $19
Purse: Forever 21 $28
I love this look. It’s young and fresh, but still professional enough that you can get away with it in most work environments. The shirt is a great steal (it’s a sweater with a collar attached- two shirts in one!) and you can put a collared shirt or sweater with the skirt to make it more professional. And don’t lie- you want that skirt. You’ll be looking for excuses to wear that skirt every day. And the best part is that it’s long enough to be appropriate in the workplace. You’re young, so your skirt doesn’t need to be at your knees- but it shouldn’t be too much higher. Nude heels are one of those “fashion staples.” They’re perfect, because they’re the shoes you go to when nothing else matches. Lazy fashion at its best.
Shirt: Forever 21 $23
Pants: Gap $55
Shoes: Forever 21 $23
Bag: Charlotte Russe $29
Necklace: Forever 21 $4
This is an easy and timeless look. You can get a button down anywhere, and you can get black slacks anywhere. The Gap pants are a bit pricey, but I find it worth it to pay more for better pants- they last longer and typically look better. This is an easy, “I just woke up two minutes ago” that with a little lipstick and love will leave you feeling like Audrey Hepburn. I love the heels with this look- capri/ ankle cuff pants with heels is the best, in my opinion. You could go with flats, or even a plain black heel, but the leopard print gives it a little fun and “look at me” while still playing it safe. The necklace is a cute little addition because I like the leopard print and elephant together, but mostly because I like elephants. Bonus points: with flats you could wear this out to dinner, or to your professors office to fight for a higher grade. And you’ll look fabulous while doing it.
Dress: Modcloth $50
Cardigan: Modcloth $35
Heels: Modcloth $35
Earrings: Modcloth $12
Okay, so I went a little Modcloth crazy on this one. But you don’t have to. You can get any color cardigan practically anywhere, and the rest of the accessories can be pulled together from anything. The dress here is a great neutral (neutrals are key!) and while it’s not exactly “wear to class” appropriate, its a great all-year dress that you can wear to the family Christmas party or your grandpa’s birthday dinner! The heels are my favorite. I absolutely die over colored heels, and I think everyone should have at least one pair. They go great with the neutral dress, because they let you show off some fun and personality and youth without being unprofessional or TOO fashionista. Also how great would those look with a sweater and jeans for a girl’s brunch?
It’s not easy. You start small. When you go to buy something ask yourself, “Can I wear this to work?” If yes, then ask, “Will I wear this to class/movies/on a date/meeting my family?” It doesn’t always have to do double duty, but it’ll help you save money. And probably help you stop wearing sweatshirts and leggings everywhere.
Don’t feel bad, we do it too.
Now, my darling young 20-something professionals, go forth and collate!