Recent Grad Guide: How to Dress for the Office

Your hard work and years of education have finally paid off! You received your first job offer and happily signed the dotted line to become a part of the “Real World.” Now that you are ready to begin your career, keep in mind that you should look the part. When it comes to dressing for the workplace, there are typically three style personas: The Classic, The Trendsetter, The Blissfully Ignorant.

The Classic

This is your typical business suit wearer. You stick to the dark colored suit, solid shirts or blouse and sometimes use the tie/scarf as an opportunity to push the envelope with a splash of color. I say “sometimes” because when you seize this colorful opportunity, everyone notices your subtle change. On casual Fridays, you feel comfortable wearing jeans, but only with a polo or button-down shirt. If this is you, you will have no worries regarding your workplace attire.

The Trendsetter

Is widely known for their workplace attire. You aren’t afraid to wear the colored/patterned blazer, colored skirt or pants and always check to make sure everything is perfect before walking into the office. You view your attire as a nonverbal statement and others find your wardrobe inspiring. You are known for your accessories—shoes, ties, pocket squares, scarves, lapel pins are all ways you let your clothes do the talking. Casual Friday is just another day you show your wardrobe versatility. If this is you, you may push the envelope too far at times, and your wardrobe can overshadow your work performance.

The Blissfully Ignorant

Has no idea of their fashion faux pas. Your clothes do not properly fit, your rotation of choices is limited and you don’t really think about your appearance. Your only concern is about the work you produce and not about how you present yourself. Casual Friday might get scary because your casual wear only includes shorts and t-shirts.

Now that you know what group you fall into, as you build your workplace wardrobe here are a few dos and don’ts to consider along the way:


1. Invest in your shoes—a good pair of shoes can go a long way. When you buy a new pair of shoes/heels, buy something that can accentuate multiple outfits through various seasons.

2. Wear your confidence—my favorite quote about dressing comes from an uncanny source: “When you look good, you feel good…when you feel good, you play good…when you play good, they pay good.” –Deion Sanders

3. Ask a friend—if you have a question about wearing or buying something for the workplace, ask a fashion savvy friend their opinion. Hopefully, they don’t steer you wrong. If you’re having second thoughts, don’t wear it!

Do not:

1. Disobey your company dress code—know what you can and cannot wear before you try to express yourself through clothing (this includes company outings and events).

2. Wear comfy clothes—comfy is for the house, not the office.

3. Break the bank—as an entry level employee, build a stable wardrobe from the sale and clearance sections and thrift stores. As your income builds, slightly adjust your clothing budget.

Now, go out there confidently into the working world. Own your style. Own your career.