Being successful means more than just having stellar grades. Your time in college is meant to lay the groundwork for your future. No matter what type of job you hope to fill, dressing the part will always be a necessity. It’s important to understand how the way you dress impacts the way people perceive you at work. Here are some useful tips about dressing to impress.

Start with the basics.

First thing’s first: you’re going to need a few basic wardrobe staples that will carry you through the work week seamlessly. You’ve heard of all these things before; a simple black blazer, some black or grey dress pants, a pair of black leather pumps, a white button-down shirt—these are the ingredients for a professional look.

Make it yours!

Many wardrobe staples tend to be quite plain, mostly because they are meant to be used in many different outfits. However, this does not mean that you will be stuck wearing monotone outfits to every job interview or board meeting. It’s totally okay—and encouraged—to throw in some pieces that really showcase your personal style. Add a chunky necklace to accentuate that plain white button-down. Throw on some colored pumps instead of your dull black ones. Opt for a printed pant rather than a flat color. Have some fun and make it your own!

Understand the requirements.

Dressing well doesn’t mean you have to diminish your personal flair—just remember that it’s important to adhere to your employer’s dress code. A job at a fashion magazine probably has a laxer dress code than a job in corporate marketing. Before your interview, make sure you clarify how structure the dress code of your organization is. On my first day at my internship, I came decked out in business professional clothing, only to realize that the agency had a casual dress code and everyone else was sporting jeans!

While being overdressed is certainly nothing to fear, being insufficiently prepared for work can make you look bad in the eyes of your employer and coworkers. After all, failure to adhere to the enforced dress code just makes it seem like you can’t follow basic instructions. Nobody appreciates employees who don’t follow the rules.

With that said, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the difference between business professional and business casual, so let me break it down for you.

 

Business Professional

 

Business professional is categorized by business attire from head to toe. A strict business professional dress code is often required in law firms and corporate business offices. Think slacks and a blazer, a pantsuit, or a matching blazer and skirt. It’s okay to ditch your blazer every now and then, but just make sure that you wear a nice crisp blouse or button-down.

 

Business Casual

 

Business casual is similar to business professional, albeit a bit more laid-back. This is the most common dress code. Think slacks and a nice sweater, a blouse with a neat cardigan, or a fun dress. You should still keep your look nice and clean, but you’ll find this is a bit more comfortable than often-stiff business professional clothing. There are also a lot more acceptable colors in this realm, and you’ll notice that more prints are appropriate than in business professional.

 

Casual

 

Casual dress is the most relaxed version of a dress code. It is often implemented in creative agencies, where the focus is not on employee presentation, but on comfort and self-expression. However, no matter how casual your dress code is, you should make sure that your look is always neat and put together. Try some well-tailored jeans paired with a nice blouse or some fun colored pants with a comfy sweater.

Stick to a color scheme.

It’s easy to fall into a trap of black and white clothing, especially when dealing with a strict dress code. If you find that all your clothes are starting to feel a bit monotonous, switch it up by implementing a color scheme in your outfits. Pick 2 or 3 colors to focus on for each look, employing them across your clothing and accessories. Even if your outfit consists of a simple blouse and slacks, a well-planned color scheme can mark the difference between bland and beautiful.

Keep it simple.

While you should do your best to look professional, don’t stress too much about putting together an elaborate look. When in doubt, keep your outfit simple. Focus on a great fit and clean lines. Even the simplest of outfits can wow your coworkers if your clothes are well-tailored and put-together.


And there you have it! Dressing well ensures that you will always put off a professional vibe in the workplace. Stick to these quick tips and you’ll find that dressing for success is a total breeze! Just remember to be yourself and have fun. Fashion is made for self-expression, after all.

Dress to Impress in 5 Easy Steps

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