Transitioning your wardrobe from college to career: Dress for success

Ah, college. The place where you are free to wear what you please, with no rules, no parents, and no school dress code. That freedom can be very liberating, but transitioning your wardrobe from college to the workplace can be difficult. So, here are some tips and tricks to help you transition your wardrobe from yoga pants and t-shirts to career-woman material.


Pick a base color or color family that you like and go from there. I personally suggest using black, brown, grey, or blue as your base and creating your style based on your color of choice. A simple black pair of pants can be paired with any color and will always look professional.

The same goes for the type of clothing you look for — start with solid colored slacks and a pencil skirt and build your collection around that. Look for pieces that will look good with many others in order to build your own work capsule.


There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars in one shopping trip — as you come across pieces that you like and will fit into your color base, add them to your wardrobe. It’s best to slowly transition your wardrobe as well, as wearing professional clothing can take some getting used to.

If you’re like me and still in college, I would recommend trying to wear outfits that are at least slightly more professional than jeans and a tee. That could mean just swapping the holey jeans for dark wash, the zip up for a blazer, and the flip flops for well-fitting flats or heels. Start with one day per week and slowly work your way to three or five days a week that you look more professional — you will be amazed at how much easier it is to do in a slow progression rather than jumping in head first to full-professional clothing, five days a week.


With that being said, there are some precautions that you should take when incorporating your personal style into the often boring, drab style often associated with dressing professionally.

The amount of freedom you have to incorporate colors and patterns into your outfits really depends on the atmosphere of your workplace. For example, a fashion designer or graphic design firm will most likely have different dress code than a law or accounting office. Follow the lead of those around you, especially your supervisors, and when in doubt keep it on the conservative.

However, if you do have a bit of wiggle room in what you can wear, feel free to have fun with it. There are many ways to incorporate fun colors or patterns into your work wear that are still very professional. A bright colored pair of shoes or belt can really go a long way in giving your outfit some pop and making you feel like you can still express your style in your clothing.


You want your clothes to complement and enhance your figure, but wearing skin-tight clothing at the office is asking for trouble. And to come back to my above statement: when in doubt, keep it conservative. If you ever think “I wonder if this is appropriate” it probably isn’t, and even if it is it is better to know with 100% confidence if it is or is not.

Jeans can be appropriate depending on your office environment, but keep the wash dark with minimal fading and absolutely no distressing. Keep it clean and sleek. Dark wash is much more professional and “grown-up” — and that could never be bad.


This one is pretty self-explanatory. Any outfit can be pumped up with a blazer, and it is one piece that you can wear with pretty much anything. That being said, this is something that you should save the money to really invest in. A $20 blazer is generally not going to fit as well as one that is tailored and made with higher quality material. Treat it as an investment in your career and yourself. Trust me, putting on a blazer can change your mood. Don’t believe me? Try it. I guarantee that you will feel powerful and like you really have your act together.

These are just a few of the tips and suggestions that I have for you when transitioning your wardrobe from college to career.

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