My daughter starts her job Monday. A switch from business casual to business professional ...a big change! She came home from Phila to shop, thinking it would be fast and easy and less expensive. After all, when my husband shops for clothes (he is a lawyer) he goes into the store, takes a suit off the rack, pays for it, and brings it home. His biggest decision is which shade of black. We thought this would be just as easy and there would be a surplus of professional clothes for woman. Wrong! Plus we did not know completely (actually not at all) what we were looking for...we figured we would know if it was right when we saw it, and we would have a lot of choices. Both of our frames of reference were narrow...she went to a Catholic high school and then an ultra liberal college...neither was the look she was going for..she has 2 roommates, 1 has an unlimited budget for clothes and the other wears scrubs..no help there either, I only wore scrubs and my other working daughter wears scrubs...our last hope was my husband....he would know everything! He worked in a professional atmosphere for the past 25 years! We came to him with a pile of questions...he did not know one single answer. Can she wear boots? He had no idea...well do the woman at work wear boots? No idea. Did you ever see a woman in the office wear boots? Never looked. Do the woman ever wear dresses? No idea. I suppose this is a good thing from a wife viewpoint and probably another reason why I love him. But we were still without clues as to what we were really looking for...then my husband said we could email his associates and ask them. A gold mine!!! His coworker gave her a detailed list of do's and do not's. Now, we were armed...motivated, eager and on a mission. Watch out other shoppers. We have a game plan and we know what we are doing. We came out of the shoe store and there were cages on all the stores..I said, "Hey, what is going on here?" We were the last people in the mall...us, security and the shoe owner. But success!!! We got everything! Exciting. Here is what we learned...
Modesty and tasteful. That is the professional look.
Think in 3's-muted pants or skirt and a colorful blouse then another muted piece (like black pants, soft yellow top, black jacket). Everyone remembers a colorful red jacket so don't start out buying something like that. Instead add color with accessories like jewelry or scarves.
Skirts are perfect. Above the knee, but no more than 2-3 inches. Long skirts are too hippy-ish. Always tights that are textured, dark or muted..no busy patterns.
Dresses are good. Never sleeveless. Don't always need a belt but always tights.
Hair off your face, wearing it down or pulled back, or soft curls.
Costume jewelry is ok, in small amounts. Post earings are best. Nothing dangly or sparkly. Necklaces above cleavage. No ankle or feet jewelry.
Flats or low heels. Boots are questionable.(We went with the boots though, they looked ok..and she is 22 not 50) If it looks like you are going on a date, you have to change the look.
No long nails, splashy patterns or decals, no bright colors no black.
The shirt collar goes outside the blazer.
As I am typing this it seems so stuffy...but it really is not. It is professional! And a lot easier to shop for a professional male.