By: Heather Funk
If anyone has experienced the full spectrum of work dress codes, it’s safe to say it has been me. I’ve found what works for my style and a particular office, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s now the beginning of summer and women are flocking out of their graduation gowns and finals-week sweat pants into… well, what?
When I was in high school, we had a dress code that would answer that question. It was printed out and distributed weeks before the year began with categories for shirts, pants, skirts, and accessories. Real life isn’t that simple, unfortunately. Or is it?
A knee-length dress you adore
It’s your first day, and what are you supposed to do? Wear a suit and be overdressed, or go with jeans and be sent home? The middle ground between these extremes is a dress since it can easily be read as dressed up or down. A subtle print is fine, and three-quarter sleeves make the look even more versatile. My personal favorite is a Laundry by Shelly Segal dress that is belted, collared, and features a chain-link pattern in (you guessed it) black and khaki. Just make sure you feel amazing in it, and you will look amazing!
Perfect black pants
Every store has basic black pants, and the perfect ones are not hard to find. Make sure yours feature a trouser leg and a flowy cut, and choose a length that can be worn with heels or flats. If you choose to tuck in your top, a higher waist will make the outfit look more polished and finding the perfect pair is easy once you narrow down your price and your cut. These pants will easily become your morning go-to piece and also carry you all the way to your next interview.
This is your mantra: one that is interview-worthy, one that is white, and one that can go under a sweater, blazer, or on its own in the summer.
A knee-length pencil skirt
Make sure it absolutely hits your knees and is not too tight. You want to be able to breathe! Black, gray, khaki, and navy are all great color options. Make sure it’s not too far below your knees in case you want to wear flats
A good blazer
It’s been said time and time again to go with black and to consider it the foundation piece of your work wardrobe. I will raise the challenge with the fact that my go-to blazer is coral and that it is absolutely essential to add a pop of color to a black-and-white outfit or to bring together a patterned look. Bonus points if you get a black sheath to go with your colored blazer. Hello, power dressing!
A fun, season-less silk top (or two or three).
Make sure it goes with your black pants and your pencil skirt. Short sleeves are the easiest option, but 3/4 sleeves look sophisticated and work in any level of office air conditioning! This can also go with jeans on Casual Friday!
You may never get Casual Friday, but if you do, you certainly want to test the waters before showing up in high waisted ripped jeans. A mid-waist, dark-wash jean (skinny is fine, but not lay-on-your-bed-to-zip tight!) will always find its place in your wardrobe, whether it’s at work or not, and you may as well be prepared.
Two or more cardigans
A black, gray, or other neutral, and a colored one (patterns are just asking to get left behind in a drawer because they don’t go with anything). Avoid white, because even the finest white cardigans age quickly in an environment where you are drinking coffee, writing with pens, and possibly sweating over emails all day.
Eight items and what a range of possibilities! Consider this your Life Dress Code and I’ll see you at the mall, career gal!