Whether you’re a college grad, an intern, or mid-level professional, at every turn you’ll need an outfit to meet the career milestone you’re determined to reach.
Some of you will say ‘I work for a startup so I don’t need to dress up’. But at some point the lines become blurred and the worst moment may happen—you might find yourself fashionably unprepared for one of life’s major moments.
Don’t be that noticeably awkward person in the room who is inappropriately dressed for your big moment. Here’s a quick list of looks you will need for each of your career milestones:
For some this may go without saying, but with the growing number of startups and work cultures becoming more and more relaxed the perception of the business world is a bit murky depending on who you ask. But to be safe it is always good to have at least two well-fitted suits available.
Men: Two Suits—Grey and Blue, Try Saks oFF 5TH
We recommend two tailored suits in a shade of grey and blue as black is too formal for initial business meetings.
Women: Two Skirt or Pant Suits—Black, Grey, Blue or another Neutral Color
(If you choose to go with a skirt suit make sure the skirt falls at your knee.)
No matter what organization or office that you work for—at some point you will be asked to attend at least one if not a week of conference events hosted by some organization. It may sound like no big deal. But the hidden factor to this ask is not only will you be working by day, but come COB you’ll likely be asked to continue your day with tons of unexpected socializing.
What you will need is tricky, but we have you covered:
Men: Suit—No tie or Go Smart Casual, Try a Hugh & Cry Suit
Remeber that handy suit you thought that you would only need for interviews? Well this is a great time to pull it out. But depending on your role and responsibilities, you can leave the tie in your work bag and instead consider a handkerchief or broach for added color.
If you work in a casual environment you’ll benefit from a smart chic look. This means you can take your hole-less pair of jeans, pair it with a dress shirt, and add a sports jacket.
“I definitely wanted to be appropriate and comfortable while being true to my personal style,” says Kelli Coleman, founder of She Who Dares.
“I found investing in staple pieces that could be mixed and matched often worked best. I always leaned toward a neutral color palette and allowed my accessories to provide the slight edge or unique ‘pop’ that often heightens a look.”
You can layer up or down these looks as the day goes on or the venue changes.
Women: Day-to-Night Look, Try Nicole Miller’s Stretch Linen Dress
For women, the challenge is to transition from day-to-night. You will need versatile items in your wardrobe like leather skirts and dresses in colder months. And blouses, pants, pencil skirts and dresses that can be worn with blazers and cardigans by day, but can transition into a well-dressed look at night.
Your goal is to be respectably dressed and not look like you are headed to the club at any time during the day or night.
It may seem unlikely, but one day in the very near future you will receive a ticket or be asked to attend a gala. The Washington, D.C. gala scene can be both understated and over the top; so we recommend a middle of the road approach.
Men: The Black Suit, Try a Hugo Boss Wool Suit
Unless you are told to rent a tuxedo, a gala is the perfect time to pull out your black suit. Most often you will be able to wear your simple necktie or swap it out for a bow tie.
Women: The Little Black Dress, Try an Alexander Wang Shirt Dress
The go-to for almost all fashion moments is the little black dress. In this case make sure that your dress is work appropriate so that it does not show too much skin either in the front or the back. You never know who you will be introduced to at such a gathering!
Styling by Courtney O’Neal, Photography by Tu Tu