There comes a time in every woman’s life when it’s time to put away the short skirts, donate the high school-era clothing and start dressing like a grown woman. And if you’re in your mid-twenties, just dipping your toes into the professional world, you might be terrified of the grownup clothes aging you by about two decades. Don’t worry, all we’re doing is making you look sophisticated and professional – something you should be happy to embrace. And also – we get you’re probably on a budget, so here are easy and cheap ways you can keep your closet classy:
Mind the materials
Jersey needs to go out of your life ASAP. Everything that is too stretchy, thin or, god forbid, see-through needs to go to a donation pile. None of that will make you look professional. Go for thick, sturdy fabrics that will give you shape. This will also influence the fit of your clothing because anything shaped like a tube will be out of the question. It’s actually a lot easier to dress professionally when it’s not as warm outside, but sturdy fabrics don’t necessarily mean warm – you can get a good cotton blouse that is dreamy and airy to wear, but will give you proper coverage.
Nail the fit
Fit is key with looking classy. Things will not always fit right off the rack, and depending on your body shape, it can be hard to ever find things that fit well without a lot of stretches (which we already said was a no-go). This is where tailoring comes in. Yes, taking your clothes to a tailor to have them fitted can be quite expensive, so you have two ways of approaching it: wait until you have enough clothing so that you can get a better price for a lot of clothing, or even better – learn to tailor. Remember, you’re not making things from scratch – you’re just hemming, taking in or giving a few extra inches. Get some cheap second-hand clothes and practice on them until you feel comfortable working on the real thing.
Swap out your layers
Layering clothing will always look good, but something like a cardigan over a button-up might make you look fifty. Instead, you can find some great kimonos online from Australia that will give you the effect of being covered up with such a unique modern twist that it will look anything but drab. Instead of crop-tops and tank tops, go for classic white T-shirts that will look good under anything. You can grab these in multi-packs for pretty cheap and good quality, too.
Learn your colors
Dressing classy doesn’t mean you have to give up colors. However, before you get into them, you have to learn how to properly utilize them. First, you always need a neutral base: white, beige or gray are always good options. Black is fine, but might age you and doesn’t leave much space for creativity. Then you want to either have a subtle print (preferably on only one part of the outfit) and match the color in that with a pop of color elsewhere, like your bag or shoes. Remember you can always build on top of neutrals, but you can’t build on top of colors, so make sure your base pieces are all neutral.
Accessorize with restraint
Too many jingles and jangles will not make you look professional. Layered necklaces and stacked bracelets might be “in” for teens going to festivals, but they don’t have a place in the professional world. You can still accessorize, and you should, but you want to keep it subtle. A long silver chain with a single gem pendant is a good example, studded earrings rather than hanging and a maximum of three rings, combined. Instead of a bracelet, opt for a watch or nothing at all. You can add something in your hair, like a decorative clip in your bun or a subtle silver bobby pin to hold back your hair. Your hair and makeup should be done up, but subtle. If someone is focusing on your makeup, they aren’t focusing on what you’re saying.
Dressing professionally is as much of a state of mind as it is the clothing. Sure, you can still wear the Disney pajama pants around the house, but when you are getting ready for work, by putting on the outfit you are putting on the state of mind that you need to make it to the top. So chin up, blazer on and walk those neutral-colored pumps out into the world.