You’ve put on your cap and gown, walked at graduation, and are now ready to start the next biggest chapter in your life: entering the professional workforce. Before you start, you will need to invest in some business casual & professional clothes to wear to the office. While you might be scared to leave the athleisure behind for what can be a more expensive and unfamiliar wardrobe, it is very easy to find high-quality, budget-friendly pieces.
One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need a few different types of clothing. While the office will be more formal, you should also add some staple casual pieces for spending time with coworkers outside of work.
Below are some tips on what you need to add to your wardrobe, and how to find them at a good price.
Arguably, what you choose to wear on your top half is the most important part of an outfit. It will be the first thing someone notices when you walk into a room. For that reason, there are a few key types of shirts you will want to purchase.
Starting from the first layer, you will want to invest in nice undershirts. It’s easy to find undershirts in multipacks, and of high quality as well. It’s important to find undershirts that will both stay tucked in and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The star of the show, however, is the dress shirt. It may be difficult to wrap your head around investing in multiple nice dress shirts right off the bat when buying business casual clothes, but this item is a non-negotiable must-have. Many online blogs say that you should buy seven dress shirts to begin, although if you can afford to buy more that would help diversify your wardrobe week-to-week. Keep the colors neutral, primarily whites and blues. These colors go with everything and are quite versatile. When you buy keep in mind that the wrist of a dress shirt should feel a little looser than a watch, and be about two centimeters from your wrist.
For more casual days, stick to sports shirts. Sports shirts can include certain button-ups and polos, and usually do not wrinkle as easily as a normal dress shirt. You won’t need as many of these shirts as you do dress shirts. Owning sports shirts is a good idea for any casual company event, such as Casual Fridays or work parties. Nice polos also function well for golf outings.
Nice properly fitted pants are an absolute must for any college graduate looking for business casual clothes. Men’s casual trousers should have a decent amount of stretch, not only for comfort but also to prevent an embarrassing rip in the office. Ordering pants online or in a store can lead to them not fitting quite right, so this is an item you should definitely consider taking to a tailor or getting them altered to fit your body and preferences.
Pants follow a similar rule as shirts for colors, just darker. Keeping your dress pants black, grey and blue ensures that they match your wardrobe in any situation. For a more casual look, investing in a quality pair of men’s jeans is the way to go. Make sure they fit you well and opt for darker denim to better match your shirts.
While business casual clothes are important, the accessories can make or break a piece. They also allow you to show your own personality and branch off from the muted colors listed above. A fun patterned tie is still business casual while also bringing vibrance to your outfit. Opting for a skinny tie if you have a more slender figure is very modern and helps flatter your shape.
Shoes also fall into the accessory category and can be one of the toughest purchases. You can never go wrong with a traditional pair of black oxford shoes as your main work shoe. Since this is the piece you will be using the most, you should be willing to splurge. No one wants to spend every day in agony over their shoes pinching their feet.
Finish off your look with a sharp but sleek belt and a gold watch, and you will blend into the office the moment you walk through the door.
Knowing what business casual clothes to invest in can be tricky. While the staples listed above can be found at almost every office in America, you may find that your office varies a bit from traditional. When you go in for an interview, try to pay attention to what the other office members are wearing. You can always seek out a local stylist for help as well.