5 Foolproof Tips for Dressing for Work

For when your go-to black sheath dress is at the cleaners. 

Surprise! The sweatpants you wore to college lecture everyday are not appropriate at your first job. So you’re probably wondering what in your fashion arsenal will work. On this week’s “Adulthood Made Easy,” host Sam Zabell saves you from potential faux pas (and a talk with HR) with help from Bucky Keady, vice president of talent management at Time Inc. (Real Simple's parent company) and Angela Matusik, InStyle.com’s executive editor. Together they share some pointers to help transition your closet from college to career:

1. Don’t have your clothes be a distraction. Whether you’re dressing for an interview or just a regular Thursday morning, make sure your outfit complements your personality and makes you feel confident. Don’t dress like you’re going clubbing or lounging at home on a Saturday afternoon.

2. Research the company culture. The best way to know what to wear is to emulate your coworkers’ wardrobe. Haven’t started yet? Social media can provide a helpful window into office norms. Note: What your friend in the fashion industry wears to work isn’t appropriate for your job in the banking industry.

3. Dress up — just a little bit — for an interview. Look professional but don’t make the person you’re meeting with feel like they're out of place. Make sure you look sharp, clean, and appropriate. Once you've eased into your job, you can dress more casually.

4. Have a few nice things. Instantly perk up a basic outfit with a nice pair of shoes, professional looking bag, or glitzy accessories. Having a handful of sharp looking items means you can save on all the other stuff.

5. ​Keep a nice pair of shoes and sweater at your desk. In case you’re pulled into a meeting with the upper level executives, keep some items at your desk that elevate your style. A sweater allows you to cover up if you’ve noticed that sleeveless dress is a little too revealing (or if you just feel a little chilly).

For even more advice, listen to the full episode below. Need some visuals? Check out What You Can (and Can’t) Wear to Work. And don't forget to subscribe and review on iTunes!