You’re “broke.” Well, not totally broke: you just landed a job in an office and you’re excited at the prospect of a fresh paycheck every two weeks. There’s just one problem: the dress code is listed as “business” or “business casual,” you’re still stuck wearing the same old low-cost outfit that won’t cut it in the business world, and you don’t yet have the money to invest in an entirely new wardrobe.
The idea of dressing up for work on Monday—let alone filling Tuesday through Friday—has you opening your closet and looking upon your “college-age” wardrobe with despair.
Have no fear. Armed with a little sartorial know-how, you won’t need to take out a loan in order to fund your wardrobe and ensure that you aren’t wearing the same thing on Tuesday as you wore on Monday. In fact, you might even find that one pair of khakis can get you through the whole week when you dress them up this way.
- We know you’re low on cash, but you will likely have to spend a little bit of money, especially if you don’t already have office-appropriate clothes waiting in the closet. The two most versatile items you can buy, aside from khakis, are two that you can layer together on your first day:
- The Navy blazer
- The Oxford Cloth Button-Down (OCBD) shirt (two is better: one white and one in pale blue)
A Navy blazer can dress up just about any old ragged shirt into something a little more “business casual,” or it can be dressed up with a tie to fit a formal business dress code. The OCBD, meanwhile, is the strong foundation upon which a professional wardrobe is built. It can be a feature shirt, it can be the collar under your sweater, it can be the canvas upon which you add your tie…it can do just about anything you need to look good at the office.
- Ditch the navy blazer and add a sweater over your OCBD; you can even repeat the same OCBD two days in a row as long as you’re still giving off a fresh and pleasant odor. Tuck the OCBD under your sweater and don’t worry about matching your shoes to your belt quite as much on this day, as your sweater may very well cover your belt for most of the day.
- Use another button-down – something with a little more color – to break up the monotony. You can skip the navy blazer every once in awhile, but be sure to tuck in your new button-down to highlight a nice brown belt that matches a brown pair of shoes; anything from cap-toe dress shoes to desert boots will look professional and appropriate for the office. Add a simple tie if you need an extra layer or professionalism.
- Dress up for an important meeting by adding a tie to the blazer-OCBD combination. If you can switch out a different button-down underneath your navy blazer to mix up the color scheme even further, you’ll find this gives your appearance more variety.
- Wear a polo shirt over the khakis for a more “casual” look if your company has a relaxed atmosphere or a “casual Friday” policy. Even a simple sweater or sweatshirt on these days—without the collar underneath—will work just fine.
Check out the full collection of pants and trousers from Berle. We have everything you need to spice up your wardrobe for every occasion.