Wardrobe Transition: from college to career

29 July 2016

The call comes through. You got the job! *insert happy dance*
Oh no! What to wear?? All you have are jeans, crop tops and hoodies. Yellow, pink, blue and orange are the most dominant colors in your wardrobe. Don’t panic. This is the beginning of a long journey that will be marked with a number of transitions and changes, especially to your wardrobe. Dressing for work is different from grabbing the nearest jeans and sweater and heading for a lecture. You want to look stylish and professional and there is a fine line between the two. Depending on the industry you are working in, each job requires a particular style of dress that reflects the organization’s nature of work, values and identity. Furthermore, the clothes, accessories and footwear one dons contribute to how one is perceived by the employer, co-workers and clients. The challenge is how to dress fashionably, comfortably and professionally.  Some organizations have resorted to uniforms in order to ensure that the corporate image is maintained as well as making it easier for clients to identify their employees. In that setup, the uniform takes away the what-to-wear headache, but for the rest of us here are four guidelines on dressing for the workplace:
1.  Wash. Dry. Press
It is not that obvious to everyone that clothes (including socks) must be washed regularly. A pair of socks should only be worn at most twice before a wash, not the whole week. The same goes for a bra, wear in once or twice before you wash Not everyone can afford to buy new clothes, especially when starting out after college, so the best way to go is to ensure that what you do have is presentable. Wash your clothes thoroughly. Let them dry and then iron out all the wrinkles. This may sound simple but it makes all the difference. A creased and greasy looking shirt will not make a good impression on the first day, or ever.

2. Modesty is key
In these days of self-expression and human rights, people have become more inclined to dress in a manner that separate them from the crowd. In your endeavor to be #onfleek or #daper do remember that modesty is a virtue. Be known for your skills not the length of your skirt or the tightness of your trousers. Avoid plunging necklines and exposed colorful undergarments. You want to be remembered for what you said and did, not what you wore. Research on the culture of the organization you will be working for so you know what is appropriate for your first day on the job. 


3. Location, Location, Location
What you wear is guided largely by where you are working. Dress appropriately. There will be a time and space for you to show off those heels you bought last week, so you do not have to wear them to the sports field. Do not stick out in a business meeting with your stylish pink suit while your bosses are in all shade of black and grey. Knowing your work schedule in advance should guide you on the outfit you need that day. To be on the safe side, keep a pair of emergency heels in the office.

4. Cents to Scents
Invest in smelling good - a roll-on, deodorant and a good cologne or perfume. These are essential. We all sweat during the course of the day and natural odors are not at all pleasant. Please avoid perfumes that have an overwhelming effect, small does will do just fine. You could extend your investment to a fragranced soap and shampoo. 

5. Forsake not the Classics
These timeless pieces are the foundation of a sound wardrobe. Anything else is an accessory. As you start to make them benjamins, save up and buy quality pieces for your work wardrobe.
Here’s a list of our classics:

Women                                                         Men
Little Black Dress                              White Shirt  
Denim Jacket                              Black/ Brown Leather Belt
Purse                                            Navy/ Grey Suit
Black Court Shoe                             The Tie
Perfect Blazer                             Khaki Chinos
Silk Scarf                   Dark Brown Brogues/ Black Oxfords
Silk Blouse                                 The Watch

Musa Bwanali is a photographer and social media enthusiast.

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