What should I wear? Those simple words can strike terror or delight into the hearts of many of us (okay I might be speaking to the ladies more on this one!). I grew up as the little sister to the winner of “Most Organized” in high school . My sister actually used to keep a chart and write down what she wore so that she would not repeat outfits. I have to confess, now that I am professor who teaches a 15-week semester, I keep track of what I wear as well. For me, I love fashion and figuring out what to wear brings me joy. I have also found that fashion can be a great conversation starter and been a source of bonding between me and my students. My most important goal in every class is to deliver content that is interesting and meaningful. However, I also feel that part of my job, especially as one of a small group of female business professors, is to be a role model which includes what I wear. In this week’s guest blog post, Casey Kidwell, 2015 LMU alumna and Sales Coordinator at Nike, shares her 5 excellent tips about making fashion work for you as a young professional. Enjoy reading!
Don’t Let your 9-5 Job Keep You from Looking Great
The big day has finally arrived. You don your cap and gown and mentally prepare for your 10 seconds of fame as you walk across the stage, hand outstretched for the physical manifestation of your four years of college education. Graduation day is one of the biggest days of your mere two decades of life. It’s a day that seemed out of reach as you sat in the library studying for hours, yet it’s finally arrived.
Despite the excitement of this day, graduation also represents the transition from your undergraduate life into real-world adulthood. The working world represents a lot of challenges to fresh graduates. All of which have become familiar to me.
After I graduated in the spring of 2015, I decided to jump into the workforce. While Europe and tropical islands were definitely calling my name, I was more concerned with getting a jumpstart on my career and establishing my success.
I was fortunate enough to land a job with the biggest sportswear brand in the world. While I was excited to start my career with a dream company of mine, I was also nervous. I was nervous for many reasons, one of which revolved around work attire.
Prior to my offer letter, I aspired to work in the fashion industry. I prided myself on the time I dedicate to getting ready in the morning and the final representation of my meticulous routine. My closet was filled with unique, eye-catching pieces and my makeup collection displayed my continuously growing Sephora addiction. I liked the double takes and knowing that my girlfriends always envied my closet.
However, I suddenly found myself in a very different work environment. My intern years were spent alongside individuals with the best clothes, shoes, bags and accessories, people whom I never felt as if I could compete with, especially not on a college student budget.
Now I was in a work environment where the shoes were still envy-inducing but this time they had laces, not heels. Not to mention the clothes wore less Devil Wears Prada and more Bend it Like Beckham. Suddenly my eye-catching pieces seemed to draw too much attention and my collection of heels was no longer appropriate.
Despite the struggle in acclimating to the newly established work attire in my life, I’m very lucky that I work in a casual environment. Sometimes you can’t tell if people just worked out, are going to the gym or just felt like dressing sporty chic that day.
After about a year and some change having my “big girl job,” I still find myself trying to establish my own work attire. I’ve never really been a jeans and sneakers kind of gal, let alone a “sneakerhead” in general, but I’m learning.
Although I continue to learn more every day, there are some things I know to be true and would like to share with you here.
1. Know the environment. While my particular work environment is casual, not all are created equal. Prior to your first day, familiarize yourself with the dress code.
2. Always dress up before you dress down. Trust me, it’s much easier to remove layers or excessive accessories rather than add to your seemingly “drab fab” sweatpants and holey t-shirt.
3. No matter what, present yourself well. First impressions are everything in the working world and especially when you’re a new face and potentially the youngest in the office. Don’t give anyone reason to think less of you or question your professionalism.
4. Don’t lose your flair. There’s always a way to incorporate items that represent who you are and what your style is. Don’t dull your sparkle.
5. Be open to new trends. While I’ve always been a fashion girl, working for a sportswear brand has afforded me the opportunity to marry fashion and athleisure, a trend I always wanted to try.
There you have it, my five quick and dirty tips for dressing for the working world. As I’ve mentioned before, my casual work environment is by no means the norm but I believe my advice can work for any job.
By no means do I have all the answers. I still struggle trying to incorporate my fashion background with my newly cultivated sneaker collection. The marriage of the two is no easy task. But I continue learning and growing (in more ways than one) every day. No matter what, I will not lose my love for clothes and my appreciation of all things pretty and feminine.
Acclimating to a 9-5 job is hard and so is figuring out what to wear every morning. Just remember that putting on a good outfit shouldn’t be the hardest part of your day (I need to follow my own advice). Your clothes should be appropriate for your particular work environment but they should also represent you. I’ve always looked to clothes and accessories as a physical representation of who I am as a person and I challenge you to do the same. 9-5 dressing does not need to be drab.