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You Asked: New Job, New Look?

Dear Sugar
I'm three years out of college and I've never had a job that required me to dress up. Not ever having gotten in the habit of wearing makeup, this also means I've never worn any to work. However, I'm being offered a job that will require full business attire, and I feel like it behooves me to develop on a sophisticated presence. I have a young face (people think I am a freshman in college!) and while this will in the long run be an asset, it makes me insecure in this type of situation. I want to go for something subtle, but I have no idea where to start. Help, please! --Clueless Cassie

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Clueless Cassie
Congratulations on the new job. How exciting! You're right, of course, that dressing and looking professional matter. That doesn't mean, Clueless Cassie, you need to dress like a Fortune 500 CEO, but the right clothing and fresh makeup will help with perception and self-confidence.

Decoding work dress codes can be challenging, so I suggest checking out your new environment before breaking the bank on a new wardrobe. There are many stores that have exactly what you need. Anne Taylor, J. Crew and Banana Republic specialize in business-casual attire, with great options for mix-and-match office chic. If you buy a few pairs of pants and skirts in basic colors -- grey, black and khaki -- you can alternate your sweaters and blouses to create a fresh look everyday.

Invest in a good pair of closed-toe shoes, and make sure the heels are manageable. I recommend keeping your toes covered; open-toed shoes in a business environment can be a little iffy.

When it comes to your make-up, less is more. And you don't need to be an expert with so many around! Find a good department store with a great cosmetics section, and tell them what you told me. I superlove all the cosmetics staff at Nordstrom's; they're friendly, knowledgeable, low on pressure and high on service. You can return anything, which is very helpful when that red lipstick looks coral in natural light. Bobby Brown, Clinique, and Prescriptives are known for their natural looks and colors, so hit those counters first. I recommend a tinted moisturizer to even out your skin tone, a good mascara, and some sheer lip gloss. Maybe a very little blush. A few good basics will pull together your look very nicely and easily.

Congratulations again on the new job! Learning curves and new environments can be stressful; remember to get enough sleep, practice good eating habits and try, try, try to keep a regular schedule outside of work. A little routine will help keep you grounded.


Join The Conversation
moxierain moxierain 9 years
I love starting a new job. You get a new fresh start at a new place with new people. Its a chance to reinvent yourself. So take it. =)
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
look at what those you report to are wearing and go for something along those lines. not copy, but "like". if they wear 2 inch heels with closed toes, get some, if they wear double breasted suits, do the same. as for looking young, you were hired for what you can do, so they obviously weren't worried about your youth. again look to what the women above you are wearing (eyeliner, false lashes, obvious makeup) and take your cues from them.
bpjedi bpjedi 10 years
Congrats on the new job! Everyone here has had great advice. I'd just add that Ann Taylor has a huge (as in 70% off, or getting a silk shirt for $10) sale at least once a year. I like that store for professional-y stuff because their clothes actually fit women with curves. If you're on the leaner side, the proportions of JCrew stuff might work better for you than they do for me.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
Congrats on the new job! I had the same issue as you a few years back. I definitely second Dear's advice in getting basics that are easy to mix and match. Business clothes are very pricey, and just a few nice pieces can add up fast, so you'll want to make sure you can get long term use out of them. One thing I did that helped me a lot when I was in this position was to look through the catalogs for stores like the ones mentioned above (J Crew, Banana Republic etc). I circled looks that I liked and compared prices among all the different stores. Then I cut out the pages that had the looks and brought them with me to different stores. They might not have the exact same pieces but the sales clerks will have something to go on when they're helping you select outfits. As for makeup, I had never worn it before my first business job. Even then, I'd only occasionally wear it. At a maximum, I'd do some mascara and lip gloss. Keep it simple here. Wearing a lot of make up isn't really great for your skin and you don't need to get in the habit of it if you haven't already.
Bonne Bonne 10 years
Oh, same boat. I'm 25 and still get mistaken for a 16 year old. In a professional world, this is not a hinderance. People will look to you as a fresh face and a source of energy. Shoes, shoes and shoes! I love em. Heels make me look older and I walk more confidently.
nicachica nicachica 10 years
this is definitely great advice. i'd also add that you should add an extra 10-15 minutes into your routine to do the make-up and hair so you have enough time to get to work! like you, i never really wear make-up but i've been doing it a lot more and it really makes me feel more professional. good luck!
SLB SLB 10 years
I think one of Dear Sugar best advise. Congratulations Clueless Cassie on your new job and good luck. ~~~~Sora: W-We're back! Kairi: You're home.
txhottie txhottie 10 years
Congratulation and good luck!! Great advice! KISS IT! Keep it simple stupid is the way to follow, especially if you aren't into makeup. A little tinted moisturizer, mascara and lip gloss go a long way to making you look put together. Also, if you aren't into blush, you can always try a bronzer instead...bring a little sun-kissed look to your face :)
Marci Marci 10 years
Excellent tips, Dear Sugar. Follow this advice and you can't go wrong, Confused Cassie.
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