Fashion Friday: Student to Working Woman Essentials

Posted on October 16th, 2009 by

All those “Top 10 Work Essentials” lists are so boring – everything is very proper, usually a dark neutral and not something you would ever wear as a student.  But pay attention!  Those lists make sense – they are what you’ll need to get started in the work place.  Plus, they offer endless options for personalization so they will seem a lot less boring once on – You just need a touch of creativity.
While it’s tempting to buy the trendy skinny black pant and ruffled silk blouse when you get your internship or job offer, start with these instead:

  1. A Pencil or A-line Skirt in Black or Charcoal Gray.  Extremely versatile and something you can work into your school wardrobe (presentations, an important meeting with your advisor, etc).  Go for the A-line option if you are bottom heavy.
  2. Sheath Dress.  Get a dark neutral color again for ultimate wearability.  Add some fun jewelry and sassy shoes for a perfect fancy date outfit.
  3. A great suit.  You’ll need one for the interview!  Buy one that has great separates so that you can pair the suiting pants with a blouse or put the suiting jacket over a standard work outfit.  The price per wear of the suit will steadily decrease with all these options.
  4. Black Trousers.  Again, hold off on trendy super skinny or wide-leg versions, and go for a straight-leg trouser.  Universally flattering and will instantly make you feel like a professional.
  5. A button-down blouse.  It doesn’t have to be white! (Although that is certainly a timeless, iconic option).  Just make sure it fits well with no gaps between the buttons or bra strap ridges.  It should be fitted, but not too fitted.
  6. A Work Bag.  My favorite part!  A tote or “satchel” is best – it should be able to fit your work files, planner, phone, etc comfortably.  One with structure is definitely best.  Avoid anything cutesy/obnoxious – no heart prints or massive logos.
  7. Pumps.  Closed-toe, not too towering heel, in black.  Powerful.
  8. Trench.  Everyone recommends it for good reason.  Nothing ruins a work outfit like a puffy nylon jacket or a North Face fleece.  Instead use a  dark wool wrap coat for the winter, and a lightweight, light colored rainproof one for fall and spring.  
  9. Cashmere Cardigan.  I was skeptical of this one – seemed too Talbots for anyone under 40 – but I hadn’t realized the great variety out there.  Cashmere, besides being ridiculously comfortable, is also a great “office weight.”  It will keep you warm when your co-workers crank the AC, but not too steamy when the heat is pouring in.  Plus it would be really cute over a long tee, skinny jeans and boots on the weekend!
  10. Sleeveless silk shell.  Unfortunately you can’t wear your regular tank tops and t-shirts under your office jackets and sweaters.  A silk shell is professional, typically seamless, and will become your new layering essential.  Stock up!

Next Fashion Friday is for the guys!


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