Work It: An Unemployed Girl’s Guide to Office Outfits

Joining the workforce can be scary enough for us recent graduates. Throw in the question of what to wear, and the prospect is even more daunting. Although I’m taking my job search at a verrrry leisurely pace, one of my best friends came to me for help with her big-girl wardrobe. Call me the unemployed genie. Here’s my advice on how to stay stylish while you get your boss coffee slave away at your desk!

work outfits

1) Don’t be afraid to mix and match.

Dragging yourself to the office everyday may be tedious, but it doesn’t have to look it. Gone are the days of a black skirt suit and white blouse. By wearing bold colors and fun prints, you can spice up your workday! You may be tempted to buy dark colors or simple solids, but gravitating towards color doesn’t have to limit your wardrobe. In fact, mixing and matching can expand your closet and ensure that you never look the same – although your cubicle might. So next time you’re at the mall, don’t be so quick to pass up that floral pencil skirt or polka dotted blouse.

2) Do sweat the small stuff.

Paycheck too small for a wardrobe overhaul? Accessories can go a long way! Try a chunky statement necklace or an oversized watch. Carry your laptop in a chic tote bag. If your office has a dress code that doesn’t allow for much creativity, switch up your manicure or test out a new hairstyle. Other pieces that can up the ante: trendy glasses, a printed scarf, or a thin but bold belt.

3) Casuals aren’t just for Friday.

Workwear doesn’t have to be stuffy. You can take your weekend wardrobe to the office by making a few adjustments. That flannel button down you spend every Saturday lounging in? Tuck it in to a color-complimenting skirt and add a sparkly bib necklace. Your favorite chambray shirt would look great with some dark green cigarette-leg pants and a gold belt. Even a t-shirt can look profesh under a cool blazer. Dare to don your denim, too – dark jeans tend to look more polished.

4) Lay it on thick.

Whether your office feels like a walk-in freezer or you’re trying to get some more use out of those summer sale items as autumn arrives, layering is key. Cardigans are always a classic, and a comfy wrap sweater can add some trendiness to your outfit without sacrificing warmth. Add a pair of textured tights or an infinity scarf during cooler months. Trade in your ballet flats for some faux leather boots and you’re ready for a snowy office commute!

5) Think big, but not too big.

You definitely don’t want to be that girl at the office – you know, the one who prances around looking like she’s ready for a night on the town. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t wear it to meet your (nonexistent, in my case) boyfriend’s parents, don’t wear it to the office. However, there’s a fine line between respectable young professional and sloppy old bag lady. Don’t be afraid to wear fitted clothing! For example, slim-fit dress pants look a lot more presentable than a baggy pair, and a tailored blazer will get you taken more seriously than an ill-fitting jacket.

bright work outfits

Depending on your job and the atmosphere of your office, you may need to tweak these tips. Don’t be shy – ask your boss or new coworkers what the norm is. But regardless of what field you’re in, my everyday shopping mantra applies: never pay full price for anything! Head to the outlets, find online coupons, check the weekly catalogues, do whatever you have to do – but don’t break the bank for your work clothes.

The following stores are known to have amazing sales if you know when to hit them: JCrew, Ann Taylor LOFT, Gap, Banana Repbulic, Old Navy, and Nordstrom/Nordstrom Rack. Trust me, I wouldn’t be caught dead paying full price for anything at most of those stores, but a little pre-shopping research goes a long way! And as a bonafide Maxxinista I can’t forget Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, where the items are always off-price.

Good luck to all you new worker bees and remember: work colorfully!

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