By Gabriela Laracca

College graduates often disregard many important details when entering the competitive job market. One of these details is appropriate wardrobe choices.

One of the first things an employer, or anyone that sees you, may notice is your general appearance.

“It may seem superficial, but clothing makes a statement about who you are and where you want to go,” said Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and author at the Protocol School of Palm Beach, FL.

This initial representation can tell employers a lot about your character and your determination to land the position.

According to Rachel Zupek of CarrerBuilder in an article featured by CNN, “The way you look and dress in the office makes a statement about what people can expect from you and how you feel about yourself.”

So, while your jeans and t-shirt combo may have made the part for job interviews in college, they may read as sloppy to employers in the professional world.

According to Forbes magazine, there are several items that working men need. This includes dress pants of two fashions- suit and khaki. Solid colored jeans and shorts could also be advisable if the office dress-code permits them.

This being said, a well-tailored suit of a dark or neutral color is also essential. The tailoring of a suit can make or break that first interview by making the wearer seem sloppy or ill-qualified.

It is also recommended to have two different types of footwear- high-end, non-exercise sneakers and slim dress shoes with a round or pointed toe. According to fashion experts, square-toed men’s shoes went out of style with the coming of the 21st century.

According to Emily Selter of Town and Country Magazine, there are a few things that need captureto be in a women’s closet to be ready for the professional world as well. Selter recommends that professional women have a few blouses of all different sleeve lengths as long as office dress-code permits it. A slim over-coat or trench coat is also essential for the chillier months because unless it is below freezing weather, that puffy down jacket from high school just will not due.

Dressing from the waist down may be a little more involved for women then for men. While men just need to choose between color and length, women need to choose between style, color, fit or if they are going to wear pants at all. Selter advises women to choose dress pants with a skinny or slim fit- flare is out of style.

Skirts are also admissible at no shorter than mid-thigh. Shorter than that, while trendy, could be seen as inappropriate for the work place.

For women who wish to wear dresses, a classic LBD or ‘little black dress’ will do nicely, and if not, a cocktail dress will also do. Obviously enough, floor length gowns and mini dresses are not appropriate for the work place.

As for footwear and other clothing items, women have a lot more choices than men. Women should possess footwear for all different types of weather and comfort levels. For example, one could choose between the everyday, round or pointed-toe heel or flats. Yet, in the middle of a blizzard, a woman may wish to wear a classic boot or other protective fashion.

For women who enjoy the little details of getting ready, including make-up and accessories, Selter advises to use no more than 10 accessory pieces as to not seem unprofessional and to use neutral makeup aside from lip color.

There are many clothing staples needed by both men and women including a well-tailored blazer and suit (dress or pants for women,) a nice sweater (preferably cashmere according to both Forbes and Town and Country,) a white button-up, a watch and a leather brief case, unless a handbag is preferred.

As for color, women are given a little more freedom. While neutral, dark and pastel colors are normally recommended for office places, it is not unheard of to dawn a colorful blouse or accessory.

According to Anne Fischer of, “Executives [in a survey] favored conservative colors. Black was most popular, chosen by 32%, followed by navy (31%) and gray (10%).”

Overall, while constructing an entirely new wardrobe may seem intimidating, it is one of the most exciting parts about entering the professional world.


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