Starting your professional wardrobe

One of the most exciting parts of getting my first job was the fact that I basically now had an excuse to get a whole new wardrobe.  I was going to be decked out head to toe in J. Crew with my super cute new Longchamp tote I got for graduation. Little did I realize, you’re still incredibly broke.

Don’t expect to be dishing out 100+ on your first pair of slacks, it’s unreasonable and unnecessary until you have a more stable income. Places like MarshallsH&MTj Maxx, and Target all have amazing options at a much lower price point.

If you are, however, looking to buy bigger ticket items that’ll last you a little longer, remember a high price doesn’t always mean better quality. Inspect the garment starting with the material it’s made of. Clothing made of natural fibers (cotton, silk, linen, ect.) are all going to last a lot longer than other synthetic materials. Check the seams and buttons to make sure they’re all secure. The last thing you want is to spend 150 dollars on the perfect blazer that falls apart after 5 washes.

When it comes to basics, these are a few things you should look for.

  • Stick to black, gray, white, and navy. They’re the standard professional colors and can easily be mixed and matched to create different looks.
  • A skirt is always a good staple, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you need a pencil skirt. They are not flattering on everyone. Shop around and see what makes you feel most confident!
  • Your shoes absolutely need to be picked on comfort first, style second. One pair of black flats and black heels will be more than enough for your first few months. Heels can be tricky in the professional field so to keep it safe. The heel should be 4″ or less, aim for a hidden platform (if any), and stick to a closed toe shoe.

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe

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Adulting – Step 1

Find a job.

I can’t actually be the only one who thought finding a job after graduation would be a breeze, right? In the perfect life (that I fully imagined in my head) I’d move back home after graduation, send a few applications out, and two weeks later I’d be starting my first ‘big girl’ job making at least 36,000 a year with full benefits and everything would be fine! If that’s how it went for you, let me tell you, you are the lucky one.

The reality for most of us is that it’ll be hours spent on Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and any other job forum you can find online. Countless phone interviews that amount to nothing, never hearing from your dream job, and constantly having everyone around you ask, “what’re your plans now that you’ve graduated?!” Believe me, you can only fake a smile for so long before hearing that question makes you want to break down in tears.

A few pieces of advice I can offer to those either still in their job search or about to begin:

  1.  Be humble – yes, a starting salary of 36,000 would be amazing but for most of us, it simply isn’t a reality. Use online resources (one of my favorites) to see what people in your field are making on average in an entry level position. Remember, there are thousands of grads out there looking to fill the same position. Be humble but know your worth.
  2. Be patient – the company that calls you back 5 minutes after you submit your resume probably isn’t a stable, reputable company that you’re looking to work for. It isn’t uncommon for some companies to take up to two weeks to get back to you. On average, it takes grads 3 months to find a full-time position. Don’t get discouraged, when the right position comes you’ll be happy you waited.
  3. Be flexible – chances of you finding a position that checks all of your boxes are slim to none. Being flexible is going to be a huge leg up amongst other applicants. Say you’ve found a position you’re truly excited about but they want you to work weekends or maybe they’re offering a slightly lower salary than you’d like, remember you aren’t committed to that job forever. Spend a year with them, gain the experience, and if you still love it talk with your supervisor about your concerns.

 

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison