I’m sure you get a lot of statements centering around the phrase, “When you get older…”. And yes, you probably want to politely provide these individuals with a loving smack to the cheek. We’ve all been there. And when it comes to your internship or a new job, you probably also hear “dress for the job you want” a zillion times as well. As much as I condone professionalism and respect in work wear, I say to that: Poppycock!
No, I am not advising you to saunter into work with a mini skirt and a strapless top. But I am saying that you have every right to dress your age. One, because you’ll probably be more comfortable – I’m sorry, would you feel comfortable in a navy calf-length skirt suit if you usually veer more towards the billowy blouses in the consignment shop? Didn’t think so. And two, because it’s in your budget.
My initial foray into credit card debt was because I felt pressured to mirror the image of women twice my age in the work force. I was in the same networking groups as they were, we were in the same meetings, so naturally I should also wear David Yurman at the age 0f 23! If your salary is typical for a 23-year-old, then I hope you can see the flawed logic of my youth.
There are so many good quality, fashion-forward and very office-appropriate wardrobe pieces that you can own to make a stylish mark at work, without breaking the bank. I feel refreshed when I see our interns come to work with items that I remember wearing when I was their age. You have many years to add the higher-end items into your wardrobe while you retire your post-collegiate accessories. The short years you have to bridge that gap of cute and grown up are just that – short.
You’re young, you’re driven and you’re probably on a tight budget. There’s no need to apologize for it or hide it; in fact, the last thing you should do is pretend that you’re not who you really are. I want to hire you for your skills, and a thoughtful outfit helps. I’ll repeat, a thoughtful outfit helps. I could care less about the price tag. I want to know that you care in all aspects of the job that you’re trying to earn. And if you tell me those shiny statement earrings are from Forever 21 and you got the adorable ankle-strap flats on sale at Nordstrom Rack, I’ll be totally impressed…and may just happen to run there between meetings.
Youth brings energy into an office, as does youthful style. So own it! And if you feel like you’re being judged for not dipping into your savings for that designer briefcase, then you may want to start searching those job boards. Or at least eat with someone else during your lunch break.