Since leaving college and entering the “real world” of business and professionalism, I’ve seen a lack of personality and individuality in everyday fashion that makes me a little sad. What happens to us as we leave our carefree college lives? We just accept what everyone tells us is coming in our professional lives: all seriousness, no room for error, and no place to be an individual. In college, you are molded into one specific type of person, with a very specific set of skills, but professionalism is not specifically defined for you. Most of the time, we learn from watching others what is appropriate, and that includes how to dress for work.

In my first professional job, I had a lot of trouble figuring out what was appropriate work wear. There is always a set of “rules”, but boundaries are often blurred. As a young professional, you’re just trying to blend in, to make yourself feel like you belong, and to convince your colleagues that you belong. It’s easy to lose your individuality in that phase of life, when you are still learning who you are as an adult, and what kind of person you want to be.

I know there are lots of young women in the Posh community who are still trying to get comfortable in their own skin. Here are a few style tips I have for you:

  1. Professional does not mean boring. It is especially important in a new environment to establish yourself as someone to look out for. You want to make people notice you right away. Let them know you have arrived. Having your own sense of style does not make you an outcast. Respect yourself enough to be true to yourself. You’re more comfortable in your own skin anyway, why let the intimidation of meeting new people force you to be someone you’re not?
  2. Change your shoes, change your whole look. It sounds too simple to be true, but it makes a huge difference. Styling is head-to-toe. There is a world of difference when you go from a plain pair of ballet flats to a cute and colorful wedge. The next time you reach for the same-old black flats, think twice and reach for those detailed sandals instead.
  3. Feel boring? Add an accessory. A monochromatic look isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re going to go that direction, throw in something unexpected. A statement necklace is an easy way to do that in the spring/summer. In the fall/winter, fun scarves and interesting earrings can turn a boring look into something with some substance.
  4. Accentuate the waistline! Being covered up doesn’t mean you have to completely lack shape. A simple trick for taking any outfit to the next level is to add a belt around the smallest part of your waist. This adds a sense of girlishness, without being overly feminine.
  5. For the love of God, throw some color in there. Black is great and all, but PLEASE use it in moderation. There are other ways to make you appear slimmer (Change the silhouette of those dresses you wear from sack to A-line; instead of those too-tight slacks, find some pants that have some volume). But don’t be afraid to rock some bright colors. You’ll look great; you’ll stand out in the minds of important people, and eventually you’ll be rewarded for it.

Ultimately, you have to love yourself enough to show who you are. Get comfortable in your own skin, and don’t think too much. You’re at work 40 hours a week, why not have fun while you’re there!

What are some style tips you would add to this list? Let me know what you think.

 

Ellyn Klapproth

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