professional: wardrobe

In general, college students don’t exactly concern themselves with personal presentation. T-shirts and jeans is the most common wardrobe combination, but pajamas are not uncommon. Hoodies and slippers are a must. Makeup is optional, especially before 11am (or even before 8pm, when you’re preparing to go out with friends). So while I was never sported my pajamas outside of the bedroom, I also never wore heels to class unless I wanted to, and I never put on makeup unless I had a reason to.

One of my most personal concerns about moving to the professional world is how to appear professional. Inherent in this concern are two separate issues: my wardrobe, and my morning preparations for personal presentation.

This post is all about the wardrobe, which is definitely the most…expensive aspect of a professional wardrobe.

***

A Professional Wardrobe

It is, to say the least, challenging to try to define what a professional wardrobe requires. A few button-down oxfords, a few pencil skirts, some slacks.  While I own one oxford, four pencil skirts, and three pairs of slacks…that gets incredibly boring after a week. And either it smells, or I have to do laundry for that one oxford every single night.

Upon looking through my wardrobe, I found I do have a bit more I can wear: some blouses, especially, help boost the number of tops I can wear. But most of my clothes are either too dressy (which I wear out to dances) or too casual (the “College Student” wardrobe issue). And I couldn’t wear a pencil skirt every day, no matter how much I love them. Thus, despite my lack of “fashion sense,” I was incredibly excited to start my new job at Banana Republic.

At BR, I had to work seven days in a row. At first, I was intimidated, because…well, what was I going to wear? As the week went on, however, I managed. Granted, I also bought a whole bunch of clothes in the middle of the week (part one of a graduation present to myself), but I still would have managed otherwise. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Layers

Camisoles. Sweaters. Vests. And most important: Cardigans. Any slightly less-than-professional shirt can be made classy with a simple color-coordinating cardigan. Vests also take a less-professional shirt (say, a simple monotone scoop neck) and immediately dress it up.

Accessories

“Statement” pieces. Belts. And my favorite: Scarves. “Statement” pieces are any large piece of jewelry which looks vaguely fashionable. Belts, when not used to hold up your pants, should be draped across your waist or fastened right under your boobs and automatically dress up any simple shirt. And scarves — every color, every pattern, every texture: not for the sake of warmth, but the sake of fashion. Wear them.

If you ever want some examples on how to look professional…just go into Banana Republic (or a similar store) and look at the mannequins. Professional examples, every time. And you can even buy an exact replica of their current outfit! (Ah, the joys of consumerism and mass production…)

***

Looking back, I realized this had been a personal seven-day-challenge. As such, it’s complete! And entirely on accident. Sadly, I have no pictures — first because I had no phone, and second because I hadn’t thought about completing the challenge as I was doing it. But if I get a chance, I will post a picture of what I wear the next few days I work there so you can see how professional I’ve become!

Start Date: 17 December 2010
End Date: 23 December 2010

Personal Success Rating: 8/10. I should have realized what I was doing, and I should have had pictures! But in the end, the challenge was successful! And that’s what matters in the long run.

Tomorrow, I shall post about the daily preparations!

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