From thick tweed skirt suits to the shoulder pad storm of 1980s power dressing, work wear doesn’t necessarily draw the crowds a-drooling—sorry, Donna Karan.
Professional attire can be difficult to integrate into an existing wardrobe and it runs the risk of aging a younger person. The structured silhouettes of professional attire tend to look more mature, and while mature is good, doubling one’s age in the mere flick of a button is bad.
With September barreling towards us, there are interviews, internships, and for the lucky some, big people jobs to prepare for. So where does that leave us, femme-identifying 20-somethings? Our looks tend to be more modern and bolder, while still giving a few winks to the classic professional aesthetic.
From yesterday to today and all eternity beyond, the blazer will always be a work staple, adding a level of polish to one’s ensemble. Avoid the Margaret Thatcher style blazer by opting for a collarless blazer or even a sleeveless waistcoat—updating the silhouette keeps the look young and sleek.
For those eyeing a more classic suiting option, perhaps head for slacks rather than the skirt. The nod to men’s wear retains the look’s freshness, while still being appropriate in a business or business casual setting. Try a black blazer paired with wide-legged black trousers, a white turtleneck, and accent earrings—modern minimalism on classic suiting.
If suiting doesn’t float your boat, a pencil skirt can serve as a fundamental piece for the professional wardrobe. And while tan or black will inevitably complement one’s closet, it can also veer towards mature. We’re 20-somethings, doggone it! A printed pencil can be that tasty blend of professional and contemporary. Why stop there? For the extra spicy, double down on prints with a printed blouse and a printed skirt or slacks combo. Keep an eye on competing prints, though; garments are friends, not foes.
Collared button downs are also requisite for the office setting, easily paired with that trouser or skirt. For an even more modern take, skip the buttons altogether in place of just a collared shirt. Or alter the shape of the collar: from Peter Pan to Mandarin, from shawl to swan, don’t get boxed into pointy.
Additionally, playing with shape and dimension is a speedy way to breathe some fresh oxygen into business casual. Try pairing high-waisted trousers that cinch at the waist with a flouncy, diaphanous top to offset the structure of the pants. Draw inspiration from the classic professional aesthetic but opt for more playful shapes, prints, and pairings and you’ll be good as garbed!