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Dressing for Your Internship or First Job in Business

If you are starting an internship or first job in the business world, you have no doubt wondered about how to dress for your role. Dressing for a job in an office requires a certain level of professionalism. Students and young graduates often struggle with what to wear. But there is no need to worry or spend your whole paycheck on a new wardrobe. Use my tried and true tips based on my years of experience working in corporate offices.

Dress to Impress

On your first day, plan to dress to impress. You will need to choose an outfit similar to what you wore to your interview. Plan for dress pants and a shirt and tie or a skirt and blouse. Once you get to the office, you can check what others are wearing and adjust accordingly. You can also speak with your boss about the dress code.

Jeans or No Jeans

Many offices have a casual dress code or allow jeans on certain days of the week such as Friday or to support your favorite team. Even so, you will need to follow some rules. Do not wear jeans with rips, tears or holes. Leave the bedazzled, studded or glittery denim at home. The goal is a business casual look. Invest in a denim jacket that you can wear over a dress to make it office appropriate. Choose a dark wash jean in a flattering fit and pair it with a jacket or blazer.

Invest in Classics at Second Hand Stores

When I left the corporate world and started my own business, I sold most of my wardrobe on eBay. I can tell you that eBay is treasure trove of office wear for cheap. Search for pencil skirts, dress pants and jackets from labels such as Talbots, Limited and Kasper. Be sure and message the seller and ask if the items have stains, rips, tears or smells. Check the return policy before you buy. Second hand stores are also an option if you have one near you. Look for machine washable blouses and dress pants to help fill in your wardrobe and get you through the week. Remember, you are shopping for the office so these items may not be something you would normally wear to class or going out with friends. Cardigan sweaters are also a good option as they are more comfortable than blazers and can help your ensemble look more pulled together. They are also a good layering piece for offices with quirky heating and air conditioning systems.

Dresses

Dresses can be worn to the office but with some considerations. Strapless dresses and sundresses should be saved for the weekend. Even with a cardigan over them, they look unprofessional. I recommend sheath dresses with a sweater or jacket over them for the office. Again, purchase a denim jacket if your office allows jeans and wear it over your dress to elevate your look.

Wash Your Hair But Not Too Much

Please take a shower and wash and comb your hair. I know it seems obvious but I have seen so many people skip it. Be careful with cologne, perfume, after shave and other scented items such as body wash, shampoo, conditioner and hair spray. Too much fragrance can trigger office mates' asthma and be distracting for coworkers and clients. If you can smell your fragrance in your car or in the elevator, you are wearing too much.

When in doubt, don't wear it. You can always ask a coworker about a clothing item if you are not sure. It's better to check first then be sent home for a dress code violation.

 

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