Dress to Impress: Tips for Appropriate Work Attire

Been there, done that: staring at your closet the night before work wondering what you could possibly wear when you have nothing in your closet. Being a student employee can feel overwhelming if you can’t afford to splurge on a work wardrobe, but thankfully there are easy ways to look professional that won’t break the bank.

Ladies: First things first, let’s set the standard for what not to wear. Try to stay away from flip flops, showing undergarments, and hemlines that are shorter than fingertip length (throwback to middle school, right?). Keep in mind that “business casual” is not the same as what you’d wear at the beach or during a workout. Yoga pants and hoodies will never compare to straight-leg black pants and a simple blouse.

That being said, here are some simple ways to work-proof some of the styles you have lying around at home:

  • Wear flats instead of sandals. The simple act of changing an open-toed shoe for a closed-toe pair makes a huge difference in an outfit.

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  • In the winter (or even in the summer if your office gets chilly), layer a fitted sweater over a collared button down. It’ll keep you warm and make you look put together at the same time – bonus points!

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Gentlemen: As comfortable as it is to wear basketball shorts and a sweatshirt, unfortunately it is a bit too casual for work. Try to dress in terms of a nice family dinner or Sunday’s best; flip flops and ripped jeans are not the way to go.

  • Wear pants instead of shorts to dress up a casual shirt.

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  • Opt for a messenger bag in place of a bulky backpack. If you’re stopping in for work in between classes, it’s not out of place to use your backpack. However, if you get the chance to spruce up your outfit with the leather messenger bag your grandmother gifted you but you’ve still never used, this is your chance!

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In general, if you’re unsure how dressy you should be, always opt for a more professional outfit. It’s better to look slightly overdressed and adjust the next day once you get a feel for your workplace. Combine these tips with your own personal style, confidence, and a smile and you’re all set for a positive impression at work!