The secrets of dressing like a pro(fessional)

By Effie Speridakos

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Alex Mojcher/Collegian

The semester has ended, signaling for many the start of the summer job. Your interviewing skills are slick and your resume has been polished to perfection. Now it’s time to work on presenting yourself as a reputable and talented worker. In reality, you’re going to get judged on appearance before you have the opportunity to prove you’re a Wonder Woman in the cubicle. Developing a tastefully hip and professional wardrobe is a crucial starting point to looking the part and commanding respect.

Before you hit the malls running, keep in mind what type of work setting you’re shopping for. Of course dress codes vary between workplaces. A journalist at Vogue should dress with more edge than an engineer or an office worker. But unless you’re Jenna Jameson on your way to the set of “Zombie Strippers,” you should avoid mesh, strappy tops, offensively tight fabrics, micro-miniskirts and thigh-high boots. While it is alright to highlight your best assets, it’s not alright to advertise them. A boatneck sheath is appropriately attractive while a sleeveless one is not. The difference here is fundamental.

Beyond the obvious, there is a fuzzy line women must be cautious not to cross. Sometimes your own discretion isn’t enough to tell the difference between tailored and tight. Look to materials that skim rather than cling. “Dressing the part” can sometimes be an extremely vague order and difficult to do when everyone is trying to express their individuality, looking both hot and certified at the same time. Give yourself a quick analysis before you leave the mirror. If you value what you see, then others will too. The central theme to keep in mind is confidence. If you’re hesitating to step into the office with it, ditch it. An impressive appearance is a powerful one.

Dressing professionally doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Even though at least one down-to-business pantsuit is a necessity for any working girl, it doesn’t have to be so drab. A tailored fit is crucial to looking serious and fierce in the office. Merging professionalism and style in one outfit is easy when shopping Alice and Olivia’s recently launched career-wear line. Their dresses, skirts, blouses, slacks and blazers are intended to be mixed and matched. Each piece brings flair with impressive detailing like pleats, peplum, fabrication, even wide legged pants for an untraditional silhouette.

BCBG Max Azria is another smart line to peruse for a chic work look. The designers behind this fashion house infuse androgynous tuxedo-inspired suits with romantic ruffles and soft textures. If you’re more of a straight-laced woman, Banana Republic and J. Crew are dependable and safe when expanding a professional closet. They’re guaranteed to provide timeless and attractive looks.

As important as you may look in a pantsuit, throwing on a one-piece is always cuter, easier and can be just as chief-looking. Don’t get your panties all in a bunch because I’m not talking about a monokini. Ladies, I’m talking about dresses. A trim-looking cap sleeved shift dress topped with a trench, pearls, patent slingbacks and a chain-strap bag is flawless. This option is far more chic than a boxy suit. The types of dresses you don to the office need to be structured, not airy. Sheath dresses give a tidy look that can be accessorized with slim belts, cardigans and tights. The options of necklines and hem types are guaranteed to give your Monday through Friday hypnosis a jolt. These dresses also make for a simple transition to happy hour.

Shoes can be surprisingly scandalous. While flats can sometimes come across as frumpy, spiked stilettos are not appropriate footwear for the workplace. Sandals are informal, so consider them off-limits for work. The only show time the toes should get at work is through peep-toed pumps. A solid pump is always safe, but keep it fresh with patent leather, slingbacks, and minimal platform. If you haven’t mastered walking in heels, stick with modern flats. There is no way you’ll look commanding or respectable while hobbling around in heels that own you.

Keep it classy and confident while presenting yourself for work and you’ll be climbing that corporate ladder in your Louboutins before lunchtime.

Effie Speridakos can be reached at [email protected]