Dry Clean Only: How to dress for success

Grey Kenneth Cole suit with a narrow stripe Tommy Hilfi ger tie and white Modern Fit Van Heusen shirt. Alyssa Pointer/HERALD

Kae Holloway

As December draws closer and closer, more students are preparing to enter the big wide world of adulthood. Their freshly updated resumes are stacked next to their research papers, and they’re looking for jobs that aren’t part-time at the library.

Taking steps into the career world, however, won’t involve just a polished resume and a well-written cover letter. It will involve a well-polished, professional wardrobe. As the old adage says, it’s time to learn to dress for success.

Those beloved and well worn yoga pants and basketball shorts that got you through your 8 a.m. comfortably will have to be saved for nights and weekends.

Dressing for success, though the phrase is archaic and almost cliche, doesn’t have to translate to archaic clothing. Holding true to your style can make dressing for a day on the job a little more exciting.

As a standard for both genders, a good white button up and a solid pair of black or khaki slacks with nice shoes can do the job, but there’s no fun in that.

If you consider your style edgier, infuse some leather looks into your work day attire. Zip up a leather pencil skirt (preferably knee length or only an inch above) with your button ups to keep your punk vibe alive. If skirts aren’t your thing, opt for a leather jacket in the cooler months.

If you love a bit more of a baggy look (i.e. oversized shirts, dresses, sweaters, etc.), get button ups that are just a bit too big and style them with loose blazers and dark pants. Depending on the material, button ups can be much more comfortable than you’d think.

Updating your wardrobe may also involve changing your favorite store, or at least finding a store that carries your professional needs.

Sure, stores like Forever 21 will occasionally get in a few blazers, but the rest of their merchandise is typically too short, too cheaply made or covered in images or slogans that are inappropriate for the workplace. You don’t have to graduate to your grandparents’ stores by any means, but find your professional niche in stores like Zara or COS, that carry trendy clothes for the working woman or man.

You may also find that you have more professional attire in your closet than anticipated. Those nice boots Santa got you for Christmas are entirely appropriate for the water cooler. That striped dress or shirt you love? Throw it on with a cardigan or blazer and some tights or slacks, respectively, and you’re good for your meeting at noon.

Dressing for that job you’re starting after you shake Gary Ransdell’s hand doesn’t have to be scary or hard. Find small ways to keep your style alive and have fun with dressing for success.