Colgate Couture: Wonderful Workwear

Colgate Couture: Wonderful Workwear

The semester is approaching its final stretch, and if you are a senior like me you probably have one thing on your mind: the job hunt. Even many of you underclassmen may be feeling a sim­ilar crunch in your search for summer internships and employ­ment. Now is the time for interviews, networking and alumni meet-and-greets; in these situations, looking the part does mat­ter, so choosing the right outfit is imperative. And, once the job is secured (fingers crossed), it will be just as important that you are able to maintain the right look every day you go into work. That said, I have compiled some guiding prin­ciples for office-appropriate attire that will make your ex­perience in the “real world” a bit less stressful.

One of the biggest questions that arises in the quest for work clothes is how much “personal flair” is too much. Of course, the answer is not a simple one, as it varies according to the industry. But I do strongly believe that, no matter what, your clothes should always have at least a subtle touch of your personality. You want your outfit to remind employers that you are a fresh, vibrant, creative and intelligent young adult that will bring great ideas and energy to the job. Even in the most conservative of fields, appearing too demure or old fashioned is not a good thing.

Yet, the case of the corporate-type job is one where you must put the most restraints on the “funky factor” of your wardrobe. This type of work culture calls for business attire, so the suit, or some­thing like it, is expected. But actually, a lot can be done within this template. For one thing, the separate blazer will be your best friend. This piece is understood as classic and professional, but it is also very contemporary and be certain that the blazer has a reasonably traditional, structured tailored fit. Then you will be at liberty to play with the details. Look for flap pockets, embellished buttons, a wide collar, cropped sleeve length or perhaps even piping. Elizabeth and James is a brand that offers a great, albeit pricey, selection. Un­der the blazer, the simple oxford is always a crisp look and should be considered if the blazer is busier. However, a feminine blouse is equally as work-appropriate and injects a little flavor into the outfit. Choose one in a pretty silk or crepe fabric; keep an eye out for a draping neckline or ruffle/pleating detail. Check out J.Crew and Madewell for ideas and options. In terms of slacks, look for a pair with a sleek tapered leg; this will update the pant and make it more flattering without screaming “trendy.” On your feet, go with a basic pump (I always like a good T-strap).

If your dream job is something like working at a school, for in­stance, the workplace is not corporate, but not quite “creative” ei­ther. Here you have a bit more flexibility in your options, but you still need to scale back any wild impulses. A fuller, high-waisted skirt is a great piece for this type of work environment. Tuck in a silky blouse like the ones we discussed for business wear. A nice, light cardigan should be thrown on top to counterbalance barer legs. The sweater can be simple or embellished, it is your call; unlike in a corporate setting, people will not be as jarred by something a little more free-form. Take a look at Anthropologie for a great selection. On your feet, try a pair of leather oxfords, which look serious, but also knowingly stylish.

Work in the creative fields really gives much more leeway in terms of the dress code. I am pretty sure that I interviewed with Urban Outfitters Inc. for my artsy visual display design and mer­chandising internship wearing a vintage floral strapless minidress and my brown leather lace-up combat boots from South America. When I worked at a fashion magazine, one day I showed up in high-waisted safari shorts and a silk cropped top. Certainly these are extreme examples, but my point is that you need not fuss as much. To be safe, my best advice is to pick one edgy piece, like a belt, a pair of shoes, a dress or a piece of jewelry. Then, keep the rest of the outfit simple, but chic.

Everyone knows that when you look sharp, you feel more con­fident. Maybe these outfit ideas will give you just the leg-up you need.