How to start a professional wardrobe in college (and why you need it)
Now that classes have officially started up again, the concept of rolling out of bed and heading to class in a t-shirt and sweatpants seems all too inviting. And while we can all admit to having those lazy days once in a while, college is actually the perfect time to start building a more polished, professional wardrobe.
Between internships, job interviews, class presentations, and networking events, you need to have at least a few key pieces that will give you that professional, working girl vibe. Plus, it’s way more impressive if you show up to class in sleek pants and a blouse than in ripped jeans and a sweatshirt. Dressing up, even just a little bit, shows you’re a dedicated, committed student. And trust me, when you dress the part, you start to believe it.
But when you’re in college, you normally have a tight budget and only a limited knowledge of the J.Crew cardigan collection, so where do you even begin? Just follow Your Coffee Break’s five steps to starting a professional wardrobe now!
Nothing says student like carrying around a dusty, ripped up backpack that’s carrying all of your notes from the past two years. And while a cute Vera Bradley or Longchamp tote is a nice step up, it doesn’t necessarily scream “hire me.” Try hitting up a store like H&M for a chic, spacious bag that is functional, affordable, and stylish.
While you probably already have a few pairs of heels in your dorm room closet, chances are they’re more appropriate for a party, not an interview. Having one pair of good, neutral heels will give any outfit that extra professional boost and if you get a basic color (like nude or black) you’ll be wear them with anything. Just make sure they have a modest heel and are comfortable to wear.
Nice pair of pants
It seems like dresses and skirts are generally the go-to when women think of professional attire, but I can’t say enough good things about having a nice pair of pants. You don’t have to spend a ton of money (all of my favorite professional pants come from the Gap) and they’re infinitely more versatile and wearable. A skinny pair of nice black pants goes well with any blouse or blazer and will make you feel like a million bucks, especially when paired with those heels we just talked about!
If there’s one item you should splurge on, it’s the classic blazer. You can pick up decently nice shirts at places like Forever 21 or Express, but a blazer should fit you like a glove and is totally worth the extra dollars. If you don’t want to go all out on a black, suit-like blazer, opt for one in a tartan or houndstooth print. It will still be perfectly appropriate for any professional event but will keep you youthful and fun. (Seriously, how awesome would you feel strutting into a meeting with this on?)
When you’re just starting off building your professional wardrobe, it’s good to pick out one special piece. You know, that one piece that you keep in the back of your closet and you pull out when you really need to kick some ass. My suggestion? A dress in a bold hue that hits right above your knee. Bonus points if it comes at a price that doesn’t break the bank.