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Style > Fashion

Smash or Pass: Corporate America Version

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ASU chapter.

It’s a shameful thing for a young, cool girl to enter Corporate America. To go from being the tits-out, fearless, socialist crusader of your group to a cog in the wheel of the cubicle-infested, fluorescent-lighted, capitalist monument to conformity and sexual harassment is no easy shift. But there she finds herself in wide-leg flare pants, white sneakers, and a real bra. A real good-girl-gone-corporate clichè. 

Why entering a corporate job was so embarrassing to me, I have no answer. Running into a man I knew in my work clothes was enough to make me think about burning everything and moving to North Dakota (he said I looked dorky with my laptop bag).

But here’s the thing: there is nothing weird or embarrassing about working in corporate America! It’s just like puberty; a lot of terror, existential dread, and new experiences to be had. Getting a corporate job is normal, and there are things to love and hate about it – which leads me to this edition of everyone’s favorite game!

Let’s play SMASH OR PASS: Corporate America Version

  1. Office Outfits


This is undeniably a smash from me. I always thought that working in an office meant I had to wear misshapen, unflattering beige clothes that smell vaguely of formaldehyde, but I am beyond happy to report that this isn’t true! Especially with the rising trends of “business-core” outfits (tiny glasses, cardigans, pleated skirts, Sandy Liang), it is so easy to look professional, while keeping your own personal stylistic choices. I wear my favorite jewelry with some wide leg pants, and I look hot and like I know what a 401(k) is. But please, please, get yourself a real bra for work. 

  1. Laptop Bags


BIG PASS. I am 98% sure a man made the laptop bag, because it is practically a military-grade weapon. Do not let yourself be seen with this bag, ever. If your office offers you a laptop bag, take it to be polite, stash it somewhere safe (under a tree?), and then never set eyes upon it again. A laptop bag will only give you unimaginable back pain, aches on only one of your shoulders, and a fight with a man you don’t remember the name of about if you look dorky or not (you will look dorky with a laptop bag, especially one with a company logo). 

  1. Blazers


Ok, this one is controversial, and I know it. But blazers are done, and cardigans are the it-girl office cover up forevermore. Blazers are too professional for your everyday office wear, are weirdly expensive, and don’t give you the range of motion you might need to fight an active shooter. I am personally so over the blazer-over-biker-short era (not that it isn’t cute… it’s just not great). Do yourself a favor and burn all of your blazers (donate them), except for that nice one your mom bought for you your freshman year of high school (in case you need it for your next interview!). 

  1. Big Water Bottle


Get yourself a small water bottle. Not comically small, but not one of those huge Stanley cups that are assuredly causing a sharp increase in wrist arthritis among young white girls because of how heavy they are. A small water bottle won’t break the bank or your wrist, is easy to carry, and will require you to take lots of breaks to refill. You are not taking another 30-minute brain break, you are just refilling your water bottle again!

  1. Headphones


This is a personal and intimate smash because my headphones have been a lifesaver. I think I might be developing a face tan line from wearing them on my 30-minute walk to the light rail, but it’s worth it. You’d be surprised how fast your shift feels when you are doing your work while listening to “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac over and over again. Warning: you might go crazy and start seeing Stevie Nicks angrily staring at you, just to realize it’s your Program Manager Liza. 

Don’t believe what a single soul tells you about working in corporate America or about office life, because the experience is different for everyone. You’ll find your own smashes and passes, and life will go on. Your youth isn’t gone just because your days working food service are. The real world isn’t scary, so long as you don’t have to carry a laptop bag.

Hope Kan is a student at Barrett, The Honors College, majoring in English (Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacies). They are the social media and content coordinator for Superstition Review, and enjoys reading bad memoirs and thrifting.