Men have it easy on this front. I heard a story about this one man who wore the exact same suit every day to work for his entire career, and no one said anything to him about it.
This would never happen with a woman. It’s not a button-up-and-tie-and-dress-pants deal. It’s hard to figure out what’s long enough, what goes together, what’s appropriate for the setting, etc. – nevertheless trying to find it in a comfortable option that’s cheap enough for a young professional.
This whole subject stressed me out. Every time I went to dress for a professional occasion, I found myself reaching for the same three outfits, trying to remember which one I wore last that people would certainly remember versus one that I wore two times ago that people would only vaguely remember. It was rough.
For this reason, I started searching out cute and professional outfits from friends that were both adorable and appropriate – yet didn’t look too difficult to put together.
Although I’m not sure the costs on these specific super chic outfits, please refer to my last post about Goodwill and understand that you could totally make any of these outfits with some successful thrifting.
So what do these outfits have in common?
One easy way to be professional is to make sure your clothes fit you properly. It’s incredibly important. If you think it is cute and you want it to fit really badly and it doesn’t, then DO NOT buy it. Clothing that is too tight or dramatically too loose is generally unflattering and gives off a vibe that you didn’t really care enough to find the right size. This is something I struggle with specifically because Goodwill doesn’t have multiple size options for the really cute stuff. There will be other perfect shirts, I promise.
Being cute and professional doesn’t mean you can only wear shades of white and black and beige. In fact, the bold options of color can make you look more confident and less like you’re trying to blend in with the back wall. Don’t get me wrong – some strategic black and white does wonders for your figure – but don’t rely on it completely.
We each have our own “style” and level of comfort with different types of clothes. When it comes to style, you want to pick out clothing that will make you feel the most comfortable. When you feel the most comfortable (about yourself, not being the material of your pants!), you’ll be more likely to put your best self forward. This leads, again, to confidence. I have had times that I’ve put on an outfit that doesn’t really fit with the look I’m going for. The whole day, I felt self-conscious about my clothes and kept tugging on them – not cues of a successful professional.
Some rules are unspoken but still slightly expected – like not wearing mini skirts to the office. Try and keep your pencil skirt length to something you could wear to church.
This section may cause some ripples.
In my personal opinion, pantyhose isn’t always necessary when dressing professionally. In the past, it was almost mandatory that a woman wore pantyhose with her outfit. It’s a highly debated subject among female professionals (I did the research!) and about half believe it’s an outdated practice.
According to the articles I read, if a workplace has a “business casual” dress code, pantyhose is not necessary. However, if you are in a “business formal” environment, pantyhose are generally expected. Or, you could become the Owner/President/CEO of the company and make your own dress code. That’s my plan.
Unfortunately, in terms of dressing professionally, leggings are not pants. Now – I totally vouch for leggings as pants with casual dress, so no need to get defensive. However, for argument’s sake, leggings aren’t exactly clothing that scream: “I put a lot of thought into what I’m wearing today.”
This doesn’t technically fall into the outfit category, but I heard a tip once that I think could be important to share – because college doesn’t really cover the minute details of dressing professionally. Tip: it is never professional to show up to work with wet hair. This is a stinky rule, especially for those of us who like to sleep longer. Maybe shower an hour earlier than you’d usually get up and then fall back asleep on your wet hair. Or blow-dry it. Or shake your head in front of a fan for a few minutes.
I hope that some of these tips/outfits have inspired you to branch out further than black slacks. Thank you to all my friends/models who let me photograph their adorable style!