By Lexy Yulich
Whether you are applying for an internship, interviewing for a job or working as a student teacher, professional attire is a key component of any college student’s wardrobe. Despite the common misconception that business clothes can’t be stylish, there are easy ways to look professional while still being trendy and feeling like yourself.
The first thing you will need is a comfortable and professional-looking suit or suit separates. I tend to favor dress pants over a suit skirt, but as the weather becomes warmer, a modest pencil skirt is useful.
Stores like J.Crew, Banana Republic, Kohls and most department stores will have a large selection that allows you to pick colors and materials that work best for you. A tailored black suit is a classic, but charcoal and navy-colored suits are becoming more popular as well.
After you have your basic suit, you can begin to explore dress shirts, blouses and sweaters. Generally, it is helpful to have shirts with different materials to accommodate the weather. For example, in the summer I prefer to have a lighter cotton blouse as opposed to silk or satin, but in the winter, wool sweaters and heavier dress shirts keep me warm. As for the color of the shirts, I begin with neutrals and then add a few colorful pieces, such as a pale pink or light blue dress shirt.
Once you have a few dependable outfit options, add accessories. A classy statement necklace, a dainty bracelet or your favorite watch can really elevate your outfit. Accessories are important because they allow you to add a personal style to any basic professional outfit.
Having a professional-looking tote or purse is also helpful. Try to find a bag that is both functional and stylish. TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack have a wide selection of purses and totes that can fit your wallet, laptop and other belongings, but are still affordable and cute.
The last step to creating your stylish professional outfit is shoes. Dress codes will vary between offices, schools and job interview settings, but for the most part, having a pair of classic black heels and a comfortable pair of flats will be more than enough. The great part about shoes is that they can also help you personalize a professional outfit.
If you like a particular print, you can purchase a printed heel or flat to complement a neutral outfit. Remember to purchase shoes that are comfortable, and if you choose a heeled pair of shoes, make sure that you are able to walk in them. It is important that you look stylish and put together, but the office isn’t a place to show off your runway-ready shoes.