Dressing for the occassion: Work and school attire

By Megan Mosquera

Professional attire can be difficult to understand considering that most people don’t want to seem unoriginal in their outfit, but also can’t see themselves wearing a graphic t-shirt to an interview. Fortunately, in modern society the average student has a lot of available options picking a work ready outfit.

While it may seem daunting to stray from a suit, that doesn’t have to be the case. Business causal has come to be a very broad term and reading the atmosphere is what’s really important.

Between school and work it can seem confusing to know how to dress for both, but that simply isn’t true. Companies are very forgiving as to what is appropriate and even with a strict dress code most will allow more than you think.

It’s important to first understand what an established superior or potential boss will require for dress code. Location is the best give-away, and many don’t understand that with the proper accessories simple outfits can go a long way.  If they are asking for something more casual, a pair of khakis and a button down would be great and rolled up sleeves give zest. Jeans, however, would also be appropriate and a more feminine option would be to wear a silky blouse.

If it is an interview at a more traditional environment, such as an office, or just a more conscientious job, opt for black pants or patterned pants with a dark design. Black pants with white vertical lines or floral patterns do well for providing some originality. Be sure to keep the top white or very flat and colorless, like a pale yellow, so that the outfit does not become too busy.  It will significantly contrast the pants, so that if you need something to overlay the shirt, wear an open suit jacket over it with an appropriate dark color to match the pants.

Don’t think I wouldn’t mention shoes, because they are equally as important. It is vital to know that sneakers shouldn’t be worn, unless you’re already at held and established job. For interviews wear boat shoes, heels or dress shoes. They can be paired with any of the aforementioned outfits and will create the sense of professionalism and sophistication they would have lacked without it.  

As for jewelry a simple thin chain around the neck is nice paired with small pearl earrings. A string of pearl along the neck is more pronounced and refined so again, make sure to check the setting before hand. Hoops will also look nice, but if you choose to skip jewelry altogether that is perfectly fine as well.

Contrary to popular belief overdressing can be just as bad as underdressing. There are obviously certain cases where a suit is necessary, but those occasions are becoming more and more limited. As a society we crave comfort and have evolved over the years to wear more universal outfits. Because of this, overdressing can come off as tone-deaf and under prepared.

If you want to wear a suit, do it. In the end, whatever makes you most comfortable is what really matters. If the job truly values you as an employer, they should appreciate you for your skills and talents and not your appearance. So long as that is kept in mind you are sure to look great but don’t forget to iron.

Photo retrieved by Flickr.

1 Comment on "Dressing for the occassion: Work and school attire"

  1. A concerned millennial | March 29, 2018 at 3:57 PM | Reply

    As a millennial who has been on both sides of the interview process – interviewing for a job myself, and interviewing someone else for a job – I implore you all NOT to wear jeans or boat shoes to an interview. Perhaps, once you are hired and acclimated to the office, you can start to introduce more casual pieces of clothing into your work wardrobe, IF it fits the office culture. But at an interview, you should know better than to wear jeans. Do you necessarily need a full suit for an interview? No. A knee-length dress or a pair of slacks and a button-up shirt will often suffice, especially for internships. But I once interviewed a potential intern who showed up wearing athletic leggings with mesh panels and sneakers. And while I can say that we ranked her outfit choice last in the reasons we did not ultimately hire her – we focused mostly on her skill level as it pertained to the job – her outfit choice did play a small role in our decision, as it portrayed to us that she wasn’t really taking the interview seriously. Bear in mind that an interview is a first impression, and if you want to be hired, you need to portray an air of professionalism.

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