Meet Callie today for our Workin' Girl Series! She's a college student who shows how to look classy and professional WITHOUT always wearing yoga pants or "going out" clothes!
Hello! My name is Callie and I blog over at Coffee and Cardigans. I was super excited when Sarah agreed to have me for the Workin’ Girl series. The business and corporate world opens up a lot of fun style options, but I wanted to tackle a slightly different topic: professional dress for the young professional.
The cliché college (or a young 20-something) girl’s wardrobe is usually broken into two categories: yoga pants and tight dresses. At least that is the stereotype I’ve encountered. It’s true that life on a college campus introduces a girl to a fairly trademark uniform of sweat pants, UGG boots, and sweatshirts sporting a soon-to-be alma mater. And most weekends, it isn’t rare to see high heels and short skirts. But for any college-aged woman out there, myself include, a functional wardrobe demands to be multi-faceted. Especially when it comes to business appropriate clothing for interviews, internships, and the workplace.
Yes, I am a college student. But when I’m not taking classes, I work as an office receptionist and intern for a local non-profit organization. While both of my places of employment give me a casual, flexible dress code, I still do my best to dress up - it’s fun! At least in my book. But it did take a while to learn the ropes: what made me feel my best, what pieces from my closet worked, and what pieces didn’t. It was about finding a balance between my own personal style and a polished, professional look.
It’s wonderfully true that there are few boundaries when it comes to personal style. But there is always a happy medium. At least when you’re a college-age or 20-something women applying for your first professional job or internship. To put it bluntly, the business casual section of your closet shouldn’t mix with the section of clothing you’d wear for a girl’s night out.
Here’s an example. When my professor asked for business appropriate attire during a final class presentation, the idea of “appropriate attire” seemed to be lost in translation. Walking into class the next day, I was a little surprised by the number of girls who showed up in five inch neon heels, mini skirts, and body-con bandage dresses. No, adding a cropped, ruched, tight blazer over the top of that doesn’t count. It seemed to be the college idea of looking professional.
Every woman wants to feel confident and sexy. And come on, we’re young! But sometimes thin straps, tight fits, short hemlines just won’t cut it for the workplace. Mastering business casual without sacrificing your personal style is about finding that balance - proper and polished, not dated and frumpy. Here are a few ideas for us younger gals when it comes to mastering the business look:
● Build your professional wardrobe around classic pieces: a black pencil skirt, a flattering blazer or cardigan, a versatile wrap dress. Consider these investment pieces that will carry you through the years, from college to the professional field and beyond.
● Dressing for the office doesn’t mean you need a new wardrobe. Learning to remix your current closet into work-appropriate looks is easy. Add a cardigan or cropped jacket to a shoulder baring dress. Add a tank under a sheer blouse. Swap your high heels for a pair of smart flats or wedges.
● Learn how to judge an outfit that isn’t appropriate. Would you wear it to a bar? Would you wear it to a party? If the answer is “yes,” maybe that outfit or garment might be better left in the closet. Try asking this question: Would wear an outfit to see your grandparents or another respected elderly individual. If so, you’ve probably got the starts to a modest and polished look.
● Too much of something can really be a bad thing. And this includes skin. Finding a balance is a must to keep your professional look. If you opt for a skirt or dress, balance out the outfit by layering a blazer or cardigan over the top. Or if you are trying a sleeveless blouse, consider pants or a longer skirt.
● Always look for ways to incorporate your own personal touch: statement jewelry, fun shoes, bright colors. Whatever works for you! A professional look doesn’t have to be limited to a drab black blazer and matching skirt.
Thanks Callie for guest posting!