Work your wardrobe: Dress for Success

While a lucky few are hunting down new party dresses in the run-up to Christmas, on campus ‘tis the season of the grad-scheme and a business-friendly blazer. With interviews, video-calls and assessment centres all requiring something a little more formal than ‘trackies’ and sport-stash, it can be easy to opt for safe and uninspiring options. However, office attire shouldn’t be neglected – first impressions count.

When dressing for an interview, an already nerve-wracking experience, there’s comfort in sticking to the stereotypes; black suit-skirts and striped shirts – but there’s a fine line between a classic and a cliché. Instead of resorting to your mum-approved two-piece, reach for something a little more exciting to make an impression. Of course, some outfits aren’t entirely appropriate for a professional environment (I’m not advocating fishnets and a mesh bralette for your first day at the office) but going for a bolder style can truly help you stand out from the crowd. Power-dressing needn’t mean sporting serious shoulder pads but the 1980s trend can easily be incorporated into today’s work-place to endow you with some much-needed confidence.

The strong silhouette of a classic suit makes it iconic for a reason. Whilst in previous decades, women were slightly ‘playing dress-up’ by reaching for such a masculine garment, today’s ‘girl bosses’ have repurposed the classic and found the power of their femininity. Businesswomen across the UK are wearing a subtler, softer and more figure-hugging suit. Pair a timeless blazer with cigarette trousers or well-structured flares for a look that’s fashion-forward and flattering whilst also being acceptable to the more conservative employer. Alternatively, if a traditional matching co-ord is more your style, venture out with fabrics and colours. ASOS stocks a vast array of suits varying from simple block colours to brightly coloured plaid and contrast leopard print. The formal shape and structuring of a blazer and trouser ‘combo’ means you can afford to venture out into more adventurous prints without looking too unprofessional.

This being said, even high-street suits can end up being quite expensive and with it being the end of term, it’s safe to say a lot of students are feeling the pinch. If your overdraft is looking a little worse for wear but your ‘Big Four’ assessment day is looming, accessories can revamp even the most tired of interview looks. ‘Attention to detail’, an attribute sought by almost all employers, can be easily demonstrated by your appearance. Don’t forget the humble shirt, whilst often overlooked and overshadowed, a simple-button down has the potential to be the centrepiece of an outfit.  Many brands are restyling their classic striped oxfords with unusual buttons or intricate collar details, minor additions that tie together an outfit. As trivial as it may seem, the finishing touches of an outfit can ‘make or break’; look to your shoes, bag and jewellery to complete a smart and sophisticated office ensemble. If you tend to stick to neutral colours that can be easily re-worn as part of a capsule wardrobe, try to find pieces with unique details. Silver hard-wear on a plain black handbag or pair of flats can instantly save an otherwise uninspiring outfit. In terms of jewellery, high-street brands such as Mango and Zara offer easily affordable statement pieces in bold colours and designs that can lift the mood of your outfit. Adding even minor bursts of colour and creativity to your go-to interview dress can help inject some of your personality into an otherwise soulless uniform.