While this is not "technically" my first adult job, it is my first job away from professional tutoring, which I had been doing for years, so it's a little nerve wracking. Especially the day of the interview where I stood in front of my closet thinking "What the hell do I wear?" So I made this handy guide for how to dress for your first adult job. Though this guide could be used for first internships or any new work environment. So let's get started!
So you nailed that interview and got the job, or you're about to go in for your interview, What do you wear? An age old question that has doomed busy morning and cluttered clean floor with clothes. You want to make a good impression and you want to feel as confident as possible as well as professional. Well with most "adulting" positions there is a certain standard of dress code that can be broken up into three different categories: business casual, smart casual, and business.
Business Casual: Or as I like to call it "Everyday+" because it's your everyday style just cleaned up a bit. You don't have to go extreme with it, but there is some rules you need to follow:
- For the girls: Dress pants or skirts are perfectly acceptable with a nice blouse. The skirt should be either pencil skirt a full a-line skirt that should go either to the knees are a little bit before. If you don't have a skirt with that length, pair with some black leggings. No t-shirts or regular jeans, but there is exceptions to this rule. Dark blue or black skinny jeans with a fitted tee under a tailored blazer should be fine, but I would wait a few weeks to see if that's acceptable for work. Dress shoes like flats, heels or penny loafers. No sneakers unless you have a job that requires them.
- For the guys: A nice part of khakis with a polo or button down shirt should do the trick. Like with the gals no sneakers, instead go with dress shoes or loafers. No jeans or tee shirts. You also don't need a jacket or a tie with business casual. For some added fun (and a conversation starter) get a shirt with a fun pattern on it.
- Business casual is typically for laid back offices or places where you don't typically interact with the public or for internships.
- For the girls: This is the style you can play with a bit. Dresses are fine, just make sure they aren't cocktail dresses or disco ball dresses (if you would wear it on a second or third date don't wear it to work). Dress type would be pencil dress, flowy a-line, rockabilly, etc. Nothing with too much a plunging neckline. Nice slacks or skirts will work with a nice patterned blouse. With any skirt, you need to wear either leggings or stockings. For an added touch you can wear a fitted blazer and a nice cardigan. The shoe rule is the same with all of these.
- For the guys: Okay now we're getting into my favorite look on a guy: Button down shirt, dark blue jeans (fitted!!!), sport coat and dress shoes. Absolutely my favorite look on a guy and the easiest way to my heart. You can play with this look by adding khakis, trousers, vest (make sure the vest matches your sport coat and/or sport coat)
Business: Okay this is your classic "Business person" look, think board meetings. Chances are your first job will not need business wear, but if you're climbing that corporate ladder, you're going to need to know this.
- For the girls: This is the Hillary Clinton pantsuit time ya'll! Or a dress/shirt set with a suit jacket. The suit should be black, grey, navy blue or brown. The button down blouse can be a pattern or a different color. If you aren't sure, black and white is always your safest bet. Heels, no way of getting around that. Flats don't break the glass ceiling!!
- For the guys: Business suit and tie, same color as the ladies. You can either have your shirt patterned or your tie patterned NOT BOTH!!! Dress shoes, black is your best bet.
If you're not sure what your office dress code is, just ask! It's a normal question and it will give you time to shop for what your company wants. If you're just into your interview or forgot to ask, the best bet is to go with smart casual until you get a "feel" for the office.This will give you time do adjust your "work look" and your closet (shopping time!).
So here is my First Day of work look!
As you can see I picked a dress (because when the heck won't I wear a dress?) It's a simple cold shoulder dress that goes a little past the needs, simple jewelry. I actually got this dress from K-mart (I know right?) and it's so comfy and it it's really flattering and professional. My job is pretty casual (one girl was even wearing shorts) But when does that stop me to dressing up? My shoes are pictured below because they didn't fit in the picture.
See how the heel matches the dress but are still neutral!!! Not to toot my own horn but sometimes I amaze myself. Also, you can all make fun of me that I paired a k-mart dress with Isaac Mizrahi shoes but I got them both on sale. Anyway, this is a good example of popping color and personality into your work life.
- ALWAYS IRON YOUR STUFF!!!!! I know this sounds like an easy rule but I've seen so many people not do this and it hurts! Nothing kills a rocking outfit more than wrinkles. We are adults people (or trying to be!) we CAN'T keep leaving our nice work clothes on "the chair". If you can't iron or don't own one, invest in a steamer or you can hang up your clothes after taking them out of the washer, that way the air drys your clothes instead of the dryer creating wrinkles. But please, don't wear wrinkled clothes, especially to your job interview. I'm a hot mess, but no one needs to know.
- Jewelry Okay so the rule is jewelry is that you want to wear ONE statement piece: big necklace, large dangling earrings, a fancy scarf, etc. Like quirky prints, this could be a cool conversation starter when you're getting to know people. You DO NOT want to wear anything that makes a lot of noise like charm bracelets, especially when your job involves typing in a cubicle because EVERYONE going to be looking at you and get nicknamed: loud AF person.
- Dress for your work environment! Every office will be different and ask for different things. My office is super cold, like Arctic weather cold, which means on my first day of work I froze in my pink little dress. So now, all my work outfits need to be paired with a cardigan. You can also leave a jacket or sweater at your desk if you don't share your desk with others. You could have the opposite problems where your office is boiling and you need to wear sleeveless things or carry a hand held fan. If you work at your desk a lot but also have to go to meetings, bring two pairs of shoes: flats at your desk, heels to your meeting.
- Don't forget the everyday things!! Don't forget to pack things that you need for your job. Do you need a work bag? Do you travel a lot during the day or do you stay at the office? I'm a writer so I normally bring a notebook and a couple pens to work. I also don't drive and theirs no cafe or lunch area at or near my job so I just pack a lunch and eat at my desk. I carry my lunch in this super cute purse that's ALSO A LUNCH BAG!!!
Okay lovelies! That's all the tips and tricks I have for you today? Do you have any? Leave a message in the comments, I love to learn! And for those of you who scored their first job and/or internship, congratulations!!! If you haven't, you will, I believe in the you you are, and the you you can be!! Just keep going, we all find our way.
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