University Studies 201: The Sophomore Experience is an undergraduate course at UNC Greensboro designed to help students discover strengths, life purpose, explore major and career options, and sharpen academic skills. My colleague and friend Rhonda asked me to speak to her UNS 201 class about how to dress professionally for completion of their final project which includes shadowing a professional in the career they plan to pursue.
It is important to make a good first impression, this opportunity to shadow a professional in your desired career could open the door for more opportunities like an internship or part-time job. Eventually, your skills and work ethic will speak for your, but people see your first. It doesn't take a lot of money, just a little time to update a wardrobe from college student to young professional.
Most college students' everyday apparel consists of t-shirts, tanks, jeans, and sneakers. This is okay for class and campus, but not okay for shadowing a professional.
To update your look from college student to young professional, let's start with a few items that can be incorporated into your current wardrobe. You may already have these items in your closet, but just have never put them together for a complete polished and professional look.
DARK DENIM JEANS: Jeans should be free of any embellishments, fading (intentional or unintentional), and rips/fraying. Also beware of jeans with logos on the pocket or colored stitching. Old Navy and GAP are my favorites for men and women.
SHIRTS, SHIRTS, SHIRTS: . The white button down shirt is a classic for both men and women. If you don't own a button down shirt, a polo is the next best thing. If you don't own either, you can always dress up a tank or t-shirt with accessories.
DRESS PANTS: Black dress pants should be a staple item in everyone's wardrobe. Not black skinny jeans or denim period, but black polyester blend or wool blend pants. Ladies, I think you should actually own two pair, one to wear with flats and one to wear with heels. If you don't have any black pants or don't have the money to invest in a pair right now, go with any neutral color, brown, navy, or khaki.
LAYERING: A solid colored cardigan or v-neck sweater can dress up any outfit, taking it from casual to business casual. Ladies add a scarf. Guys add a button up shirt and tie.
ACCESSORIES: Keep it simple! Scarves, bangles, bracelets, watches, and earrings should be kept to a minimum. You should wear only 1 statement piece. For example ladies, if you wear a multi-colored scarf, keep your accessories neutral in gold or silver. Guys, if your ears a pierced, wear a small diamond stud or no earring at all.
BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL TOTAL LOOK
This look should be considered an investment, but you still don't have to break the bank. One of the things I asked for my undergraduate graduation was an interview suit. I've only worn it a few times, but it's there when I need it. Ladies definitely have more options here and can often find a wardrober suit (includes jacket, pants, and skirt). Guys typically have to opt for suit separates. Quality suits are lined, have polyester or wool blend.
WHERE TO SHOP IN GREENSBORO: I frequently shop at Goodwill on Battleground Ave, Plato's Closet, Uptown Cheapskate, Ross, TJMaxx, Marshall's, Walmart, and Target. JCPenny and Sears are also great places if you are looking for a specific item like a blazer or dress pants.
*Special thanks to Jeremy, UNS 201 PAL, for modeling.