Career hustle

Career #hustle: clothing edition

As an influx of interns and new employees flood the halls at work, I’ve been reflecting on when I started my own foray into the full-time, salaried, real-world life of working and #adulting. It’s been a long time (ahem) a few years since I first panicked about what to wear to an interview and how to look for an apartment in Toronto and thankfully I’ve learned a few things a lot since then, thanks to a combination of experience, mentors and wise friends. So in honour of graduation/intern/new job season I’ll be bringing sharing some of those lessons over the next few weeks. Now, since I have an arsenal of brilliant friends and readers, if there’s something you want to share on one of these topics throw it in the comments below!

First up – five things to have in your wardrobe when you start working that #professh life (sidebar: how has it taken me this long to write a post dedicated to fashion?!). Now these are pieces everyone should have, not just recent grads and interns.

This may seem a little basic at first, but bear with me, there’s more than meets the eye:

  • Blazer
  • Nice pair of shoes: this can be great pair of heels or flats but there are two important rules here: you shoes should be in good shape (not scuffed) and flip flops don’t can’t (yes, even leather ones)
  • Dress pants
  • Comfortable work appropriate dress
  • Nice blouse

Thinking, “I work for a super hip start-up and the dress code has basically been pulled from the Everlane lookbook with a dash of Zuckerberg’s hoodies”? Firstly 👏🏻 Everlane is my jam. But I get it. Dress codes differ greatly across industries and workplaces. In my first job I worked with students and was instructed to wear jeans and a t-shirt whenever I visited a school or gave a speech. If I had shown up in a suit and heels I wouldn’t have been relatable. In my next job I ran events that catered to a Bay Street and Government audience – they wouldn’t have taken me seriously if I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt with an inspirational quote on it. You have to know your audience.

But there may be a time when you’re asked to deliver a presentation to a client, join a meeting with the CEO, head out on a job interview, or even get invited to an event with a very “business” crowd. Having a few key pieces on hand means you don’t have to panic at the last minute and wander around the mall wondering where the heck Banana Republic and Ann Taylor are (3rd floor of the Eaton Centre – I got you). Instead you can just head to your closet and put together a combination that works for you and your needs. Meeting with a casual client? Awesome, grab your favourite dark wash jeans that make you feel like a rock star, but show them you mean business with your go-to blouse and blazer combo (and throw on those nice shoes while you’re at it).

A comfortable, work appropriate dress is a closet staple, because you just never know who might show up at a work event (pro-tip: invest in something stretchy enough that you can run in if needed)

Are you wondering why you should care? I dig your rebellious spirit. However, what you wear sends a message (remeber – know your audience). If you show up to pitch the CEO of a bank in those trendy track pants and a silk crop top odds are pretty good that they will be too distracted by your outfit to listen to the brilliant presentation you’ve laid out. You can let your personality shine through your outfit, just don’t let it distract from what’s coming out of your mouth.

Which brings me to my last point – these things don’t have to be boring. Notice I didn’t put a suit on here? I hate wearing pantsuits – I don’t feel comfortable or like my authentic self. However, I think the same thing can be accomplished with polished basics. I like to deliver suit vibes with my own twist – currently my black “suit” consists of lace dress pants, my black blazer, a blouse and heels. Boom. Suit. That said, you’re much more likely to find me wearing a dress with a pink houndstooth blazer, or a neutral blazer with colourful dress pants (a former colleague of mine defined my style as “the girl who wears colourful pants”).

A classic blazer with a colourful twist is my ideal wardrobe staple.

Don’t be afraid to inject some personality into these basics. Simple and classic silhouettes with a twist are the best way to let your personality sparkle, while looking put together and professh. The sparkly beauts below are my favourite way to elevate an otherwise drab outfit and instantly lift my mood. Just make sure to keep the rest of your outfit streamlined – pairing sparkly loafers with a sequin dress may read more showgirl than corporate boss.

Wondering where to find these things? Here are a few of my go-to’s to get you started:

  • J. Crew: there’s a reason this classic store makes up the majority of my wardrobe – they have perfected making quality, classic pieces with fun twists
  • Ann Taylor
  • Loft: their Rivera pants are my favourite work pants – they come in two fits and petite 🙌🏻
  • Kate Spade: perfect for comfy and quirky shoes
  • If you’re going to invest in one pair of comfy heels, make it Cole Haan – my last pair lasted five years of constant use
  • Artizia and Wilfred for those perfect, simple, elevated pieces

How do you approach wardrobe basics? Where are your go-to stores? Let me know in the comments below!

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