Tips on Building your own Professional Wardrobe

Business casual is a very broad category. What you define as casual, might be what someone considers formal. With that being said, here is a breakdown of ways to improve and therefore become more confident in your business casual attire.

When it comes to curating your professional look, stick to the basics within these beginning stages. Dark tones and neutral colored dress pants, basic but comfortable shoes, and loose fitting blouses, button-ups and blazers are solid foundations to have. 

Once you are past the basics, and feel comfortable with taking it to the next level, you can start to experiment with accessorizing. With accessories you have more freedom to elevate your professional style. Jewelry is a good way to make your professional attire more personalized. This is also very convenient for those who like to fidget out of nervousness, or for stimulation and sensory purposes. Rings, bracelets and watches are convenient fidget tools that do not take away from your style or interrupt professional settings. Therefore, you can have a lot of fun with this, in terms of appearance and functionality. However avoid jewelry or other forms of accessories that are excessively loud and distracting, or will hinder your work performance. Overall, just use your discretion, as everyone’s professional settings are different. 

Professional dress does not have to be boring. A rule of thumb to use is to stick with your already established basics, then pair them with something that speaks more to your personality. For example, if you happen to wear black trousers, with a black blazer, then you can add something with a pop of color, maybe a yellow top, or a patterned bag. Your appearance will remain sleek but you’ll still have that color aspect to add more character.

In general, always seek comfort and functionality regardless of what you are wearing, and don’t dismiss the spirit of experimenting. If you are interested in building or improving your professional wardrobe, and in need of financial support, check out the career support fund provided by the Knowlton Center. 

By Mila Taffe
Mila Taffe Peer Career Fellow: Social Impact, Education and Government