In college, freshmen and sophomore year fly by, and by the closing of junior year, the realization that leggings, flip-flops and an oversized hoodie will no longer be acceptable daytime attire becomes all too real. I know, tragic. As we flip-flop off our college grounds and into the workforce, it should be no surprise that our college clothes won’t be coming with us. R.I.P. to the days of wearing cut off denim shorts, to trendy graphic tees, and a special R.I.P. to the collection of Lulu lemon leggings which have served as a staple in our wardrobes for far too long.
Recently, I received an invitation to an internship/job-hunting mixer, complete with the time, place, and dress code. Yes, the dreaded “business casual.” As I walked into my closet, I was overwhelmed by the amount of clothes staring back at me. And, underwhelmed by my options of “business casual” choices. Tupac t-shirt dress? Check. Three different denim jackets in varying styles? Yep. Tank tops, tube tops and flannels? Triple check.
It was in that moment I realized, wow; I don’t own one blazer, not one business blouse, and it sunk in, in a few short months I would be forced to trade in my distressed denim jeans for fitted trousers. I knew upon graduating, I’d be expected to dress professionally, but up until this moment, that point had seemed like light years away. Now, I was faced with trying to transform my youthful, twenty-two-year-old wardrobe complete with platform Steve Madden sneakers, into that of Anne Hathaway’s in The Devil Wears Prada. (If you haven’t seen that movie, 10/10 recommend, it’s a classic, but I digress.)
I’ve come to realize that dressing professionally has less to do with the garments draped on your body and far more to do with how you’d like to be perceived. Like it or not, what you wear gives people a taste of who you are; it hints at your maturity level and competence. In the business world, and life in general, first impressions are everything.
It’s a fine line between trendy and trashy and crossing it could mean walking into “you’re being let-go,” territory. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a hundred times before: “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Now, this doesn’t mean strutting into your summer internship like a Victoria’s Secret Angel (we can dream), it means if you want to be the editor-in-chief of a big magazine, dress the part. If you want to be taken seriously and treated with respect, then what you wear matters, and “dressing for success” is a real thing.
Now, I love looking for an excuse to shop just as much as the next girl, but needing a business casual wardrobe doesn’t mean abandoning all that you have. It’s strategically picking the pieces you can carry with you. So for many of us that means leaving the tight mini dress at home and grabbing a knitted sweater and dark wash jeans instead.
Sadly, this may be an end to one fashion era, but it’s a start of a brand new one as well. So cheers to growing up, trading in mini skirts for pencil skirts, and harnessing our own inner badass businesswoman. Here’s to becoming “business casual.”
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