7 Real-World Fashion Tips for New Grads

Recent grads should lose their college fashion habits when they step off campus for the final time.

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The transition from college to the professional world can often be a shock to recent grads. Gone are the days of late-night study sessions and being able to miss a day or two of class without worry. Perhaps one of the biggest adjustments for recent grads is their appearance. Here are six must-follow fashion tips for new grads.

“Mature” your wardrobe. After graduation, the pajama bottoms and oversized sweatshirts you wore to class aren’t going to cut it. This means it is time to “mature” your wardrobe. Go out and buy more professional looking clothes, including dress pants, pencil skirts for women, collared shirts, and office-appropriate shoes.

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Be conservative. When updating your wardrobe, try to stay away from loud colors and go for navy, black, white, and gray options instead. Also be sure to opt for clothing items that are not revealing. If you express any doubt about the professionalism of a clothing item you find while shopping, simply leave it on the rack and find something else.

Get a new do. If you let your hair go while in college, it’s time to update it. A more professional cut will translate much better in an office environment. Women should go for something shorter with a natural looking color. Guys should opt for a more clean-cut look instead of the surfer boy, wild look they may be currently sporting.

Be polished. Don’t overdo the cologne or perfume and make sure your hygiene is up to par. Ladies, makeup is great but be sure not to go too overboard. The key is keeping it subtle. This means go easy on the eyeliner and eye shadow and choose a more natural-looking shade of lip-gloss. Guys, either lose the facial hair or keep it orderly. Also, it’s very important to make sure your clothes are ironed, not wrinkled.

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Overdress. If you have a job interview and are not certain of company’s dress code, always be sure to overdress—and never underdress. At first you may feel a bit awkward walking through a casual office in a suit, but your interviewer will see that you are taking the interview seriously, which is looked upon very favorably.

Invest in a suit. Yes, suits are not the most fun thing in the world to wear nor are they the most fashion friendly. However, to be taken seriously in the corporate world, it is important to be able to really dress the part, when necessary. So spend some money and invest in a suit (or a dress suit if you are a woman).

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Stay “fresh”. There are a couple must-carry items you should always have with you to stay fresh throughout the day. These include a stain remover pen (such as Tide to Go) and a travel-sized toothbrush (such as the Colgate Wisp). Having these with you will enable you to stay clean and fresh regardless of what the day brings you. Additionally, carrying breath mints (as opposed to gum) is always a good idea to keep your breath fresh.

Ashley Jacobs is a college finance columnist for personal finance blog Wise Bread. Follow her latest tweets on @WiseBread.