Let's Get Down to Business: How to Dress for Success in the Workplace

Whether you have interviews coming up, or are thinking about building a wardrobe for your summer internship, figuring out what to wear in the professional world is no easy task. As a young woman, it is especially hard to strike the perfect balance of professionalism, femininity, and comfort. Although there is always plenty of ambiguity when it comes to office attire, here are some tips that can help make it easier to dress for success.

Know Your Industry and Company

To begin, it’s important to know the typical dress code for your industry, and for your company in particular. Finance and banking tend to be quite formal, whereas tech can be more relaxed, and creative fields like media and advertising are often open for more trendy looks. However, there are always exceptions, so it also is important to note how people in your own office dress, and what may be deemed appropriate there. Observing what others wear, and asking questions if you’re unsure can help you avoid being overdressed or underdressed.

Gather Ideas

Once you have an idea of what sort of attire is expected and appropriate at your workplace, you can start looking for ways to put together great outfits. The Internet can be an awesome resource, both for gathering definitions of the ever-confusing “business casual,” and for looking at pictures that will give you outfit inspiration. Many retailers, like Banana Republic and Macy’s, even have pages devoted to business attire that show both individual pieces and outfit suggestions. Below is one example of a business casual look from Banana Republic’s “Shop the Look” page. 

Find Your Basics

It is helpful to have go-to pieces that can form the basis of a variety of looks. If you’re doing a lot of interviews, or are going to be working in a place with formal attire, it makes sense to invest in a well-tailored suit that makes you feel capable of taking on the world. Other important basics might include dress pants or pencil skirts, button down shirts or cardigans, and for every job, shoes that are stylish and comfortable. Here, you can see how one simple business dress was accessorized to make three great outfits!