By: Klaire Chandler ’20

It’s Spring Semester at Salem State and that means time for seniors to start applying for future employment or graduate programs and underclassmen to start looking for summer internships and employment.

Career Services is offering a few opportunities to help student prepare for the transition to professional life. Some events offered this year include the Career Closet and the JCPenney Suit Up Discount Professional Dress Event, both aimed at helping students acquire professional clothing.

Career Closet will be held at the Ellison Campus Center from 10 AM to 7 PM on Thursday, Feb. 20th. Students will be able to drop in and pick up donated new and lightly used professional clothing for free.

The JCPenney Suit Up Discount Professional Dress Event will take place from 3 to 6 PM on Sunday, Feb. 23rd at the JCPenny in the North Shore Mall. The event will give students the chance to purchase professional clothing and scrubs up to 60% off.

As someone who recently had to put together a professional wardrobe for an internship, I know that dressing right can be a bit stressful, especially when you’re working with a student’s budget. For those of you who may find yourself as confused and overwhelmed as I did when first establishing a professional wardrobe, I have laid out a few tips I think will be helpful. I have also created a list of key items to look for at the upcoming events.

Stick to the Basics

When building a professional wardrobe for the first time, the key is sticking to the basics. You can always add more items further along that can make things a bit more exciting, but for now you want to find items that will work time and again. Trust me, there is nothing like a pair of basic black slacks to make getting ready in the morning a hundred times easier.

Know the Code

Underdressing for a job is a serious faux pas, however, as a friend of mine recently learned, over dressing can also be a bit uncomfortable (especially if you wasted a lot of money at Ann Taylor to do so). For a job interview, it is usually best to dress as professionally as possible just to be safe, but once you have the job, you will want to adjust the way you dress accordingly. While some professions may require business attire, these days many workplaces have loosened up a little and let go of ties and pencil skirts. Having a suit or professional dress in your wardrobe is good, but don’t go buying a whole rack until you know the office code.

Color Conscious

When it comes to building your professional wardrobe, you want to find items that will work well in a variety of combinations. Picking neutral colors that work well together will take a lot of the stress out of getting dressed. Tradition says black, white, grey, and navy, and yeah those are probably good bets (especially when you are still in the interview phase of your professional career). However, don’t fear a bland life of black and blue, you can always incorporate more colorful pieces over time. Remember that this is only the base on which you can build a larger collection. But if you really can’t stand a particular color (navy is like black but less cool) then you could always skip it or replace it with another shade, as long as it isn’t too garish (ex. maroon, army green, or cream).

Essentials List

So now that you know the three basic rules (basics, code, color) here is a list of items to be on the look out for at the upcoming events. Items marked with a * are absolute essentials, which you should try to get first.

Note: This list is meant to be helpful regardless of gender, remember to always dress how you feel most comfortable and confident.

White long sleeve button-up*
Black/gray/navy long sleeve button-up

Black slacks*
Grey or navy slacks
Black/grey/navy- a-line/straight/ or pencil skirt

Black suit jacket or blazer*
Grey or navy suit jacket or blazer
Black or tan trench coat

Black dress shoes*
Brown dress shoes
Black or nude low heel

Black belt*
Brown or tan belt
Black tie*
Grey/navy tie