Summer means relaxation for some, and for others it means an internship! So you’ve landed the job, and you start in a couple of weeks—but wait! What are you going to wear? Your go-to t-shirt – skinny jeans - flip-flop combo isn’t going to cut it in the office! Well, at least not for most jobs. Maybe you’ve landed a job at a cool quirky company that writes humor articles for 20-somethings or a fun tech company where everyone wears t-shirts with funny quips on them. The rest of us will probably be working at places where dry-clean only clothes are pretty standard. Our clothes tell the world how we expect to be treated and who we are. They can tell someone how serious you are or how immature you are. At an internship you don’t want to send the wrong message. For those of you who aren’t familiar with shopping for business clothes, here are 5 tips for buying great, appropriate business clothes, and where to get them.
Tip #1 Fit counts! It doesn’t matter how expensive your suit is. It doesn’t matter if your top is designer. If it doesn’t fit you’ll look ridiculous. A nice, well-tailored outfit will always beat out a poorly-fitting ensemble, no matter how fancy. Don’t buy things that are too tight! If you’re in love with something just a little too loose in a few places, consider getting it tailored. A nice, well-fitting piece will be worth the extra investment—and a piece that doesn’t fit won’t be worth the money.
Tip #2 Always try things on. Some people have a couple stores that they can always find great, accurate sizes from, but since business clothes have to have clean lines and a nice fit, I recommend always trying things on. We as women come in many shapes and sizes, so a medium can fit one way in one design and completely differently in another.
Tip #3 Think about appropriateness. Those of you at more creative jobs may have more liberty in choosing fun colors and patterns, but on the other end of the spectrum, there are those of us who will be bound to neutrals at all times. The majority of us will stick to a bunch of neutral pieces with a punchy top or fun jewelry to punctuate our more reserved outfits. Think about appropriateness when putting on your make up in the morning and choosing your nail color—hint: pink/red shades, nude, neutral and even metallic shades are typically fine.
Tip #4 Go for basics that’ll last. While it may seem easier to just get some cheap things that look nice, your business clothes should last you years—not a few washes. Trust me—they pay for themselves. And it’s easy to spot shoddy clothes. You don’t want to show up to the office looking like you treat your outward, visual identity as something cheap, not worth taking care of, or sloppy. You want to look like a strong woman with her act together—not a girl who bought clothes as if she wants to be ready to burst out of them at any moment, Hulk-style. Bruce Banner should probably not be your style-inspiration.
Tip #5 Think outside the outfit. Sometimes we forget that our outfit is about more than just our clothes. Do you have a nice jacket or is your entire outerwear selection made up of hoodies? Do you have a serious big-girl purse, or have you been working with a totebag from PINK? It’s time to upgrade. Are you going to have to take your Hello Kitty–coated laptop in? Maybe get a new case or skin. And don’t forget that jewelry can really make an outfit or break it.
And for deals, it's a good idea to try to go to the outlet versions of these stores, heading out towards discount stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Ross, and hitting JC Penney, Macy's, and the rest of your mall department stores on sale days. Memorial Day Sales start next week!