By: Sarah Virkstis (@SarahVirkstis)
The standard corporate work environment can be monotonous and boring. You can be easily surrounded by bland, blank walls for 8 to 10 hours every day. Why would you want your wardrobe to be just as boring?
If you’re reading this, you’re likely an Ad or PR major like myself. We are lucky that our careers allow and encourage us to thrive in creative and colorful spaces that motivate us to do great work.
Liberal work environments are becoming more popular in the modern era, which means that the typical pantsuit combo is something that you only keep to wear as separate pieces, not as a set. What outfits are going to break that social norm and allow your individual style to shine? It can be ambiguous as to where the line between “business” and “business casual” attire is drawn. Below I have put together some great tips and ideas to help you create a one-of-a-kind work wardrobe that speaks to who you are as a unique individual, while remaining appropriate for the office.
Find Your Personal Style
Finding your personal style can be a daunting task. Think about your current style. Do you gravitate towards certain textures, colors, patterns, or pieces? For me, 99.999% of my closet is filled with warm tone colors, soft textures, flowy, boho pieces, and a million pairs of jeans (I live for good denim). But maybe you’re more attracted to black and classic, chic pieces. Or maybe you’re into the vintage vibe with lots of mustard, olive and muted colors. Whatever it is, make the observation and let’s go from there.
Once you put words or a label to what you believe your style is (or hope for it to be), take your powerful millennial googling and searching skills to Pinterest and start looking for some ideas. Create a board dedicated to career clothing and keep it handy the next time you go out shopping. Seriously. I know that sounds strange, but when you have an idea of specific pieces you want to try and look for, it’s going to be much easier to have a reference than searching from memory.
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
The term “capsule wardrobe” was coined in the mid 1970s and then popularized in the 80s. Essentially, this is a small collection of pieces that don’t go out of fashion and can be adapted from season to season. The smaller you start, the easier it’s going to be to create. I would suggest starting with between 10-12 pieces: three pairs of pants, a skirt, a dress, two blazers, and four or five tops. The capsule is meant to be your core or base. From this point, you can make close to 30 different outfits from within the capsule, or you can incorporate other garments with fun patterns, colors, and textures for even more options.
Our PRSSA Chapter at Grand Valley is blessed to have so many style-queens amongst us that it’s easy to be inspired by their personal styles to get ideas for yourself. But instead of telling you, I’ll just show you.
Classic Chic – (Chloe English – right) Here is a perfect example of Chloe’s ever so elegant, classic style. Note her sleek, black trench coat with gold embellishments, simple makeup, fitted white dress pant, and classic black flats.
Fun & Fresh – (Morgan Shaffer – Left) As you can see from this photo and the one prior, Morgan isn’t afraid to be bold with her looks. In this photo, Morgan is rocking a stunning floral print wrap dress and accessorizing with bright pops of color that emphasize the colors of her dress. This look is so bright and perfect for summer!
En Vogue – (Sabrina Antcliff) Let’s be real. As Vice President of our chapter and CEO of GrandPR, looking the part is essential, and Sabrina knows know to rock a look. Here she’s sporting a monochrome ivory look from head to toe. She’s wearing a basic crew neck, long sleeve top with a thick and textured cardigan. A trendy and warm knit scarf, fitted white crop length denim, and a stunning pair of black, slide-on loafers.
Simple Statement – (Me! Sarah Virkstis – Middle) While I don’t claim to have near the amount of fashion sense as the lovely ladies before me, I do know how to cover all of the bases with basics. Here I am wearing a cozy, cashmere, turtleneck sweater in periwinkle. I’ve paired the sweater with well fitting black dress pants, and black, suede, chunky booties. To add just a sprinkle of pizzazz, I added a copper statement necklace. Remember: simplicity doesn’t imply lack of personality!
Don’t worry men, I didn’t forget about you. I think a lot of men tend to fall short of showing off their own individuality. There seems to be a lot of the same outfits going around, like the classic button down shirt, dress pants, and a sport coat. Spice it up a little with a bow-tie, a couple different pairs of leather loafers, and even a chunky scarf and trench coat for chillier times of the year.
Second from the right in this photo is Hunter. He is a prime example of how men can use their own style in the workplace. If I remember correctly, Hunter’s pants were actually a plaid tweed over dark brown, leather loafers. He finished off his look with a basic button down shirt, bow-tie, and suspenders. This is such a unique way Hunter was able to express his style in the most modern and vintage way possible. I think he may have even had a newspaper boy hat on prior to taking this photo.
As college students, there are a multitude of things that are in need of being purchased or paid for. Unless you’re a shopaholic or Amazon Prime addict (like myself), adding more things to your current wardrobe is probably last on the list. But there are some great alternative shopping spots you can take advantage of on a tight budget. Here are my top 5:
Poshmark is a great spot to find high-end, name brand, new, and gently used items at a fraction of the price. I think I troll through this app more often than I’d like to admit.
ThredUp is another great source of used and new pieces at super low prices!
Style Encore is like the grown up version of Plato’s Closet. You can’t shop online, but you can get some fantastic items for steals in the greater Grand Rapids area.
Another Local favorite of mine is Bid2Benefit. There are now several locations on the west side of the Grand Rapids region. Not only are they a charitable organization, but as an overstock store filling their shelves with items that local department stores couldn’t get rid of, they have things you would never think you’d want or need. It’s dangerous. Be careful.
-Local thrift & antique shops:
I feel like this one is a little self-explanatory. But a pro-tip of mine would be to go to resale and local thrift shops in wealthier areas of your city. I tend to find the most quality and fashionable pieces in those areas. I won’t name any of my secret hotspots but..
*cough*East Grand Rapids*cough*Forest Hills*cough*
Hopefully these tips help you stand out in the best possible way amongst your peers in the PR field. Go rock your individuality!
Below I have a few extra photos of our chapter killing the style game at our most recent CreateAthon event.
(Left: Trevor Bryan Right: Sabrina Antcliff)
(Left to right: Ella Rechner, Delaney Mackenzie, Shelby Cassel, Evan Clark)
Sarah Virkstis is a Junior at Grand Valley State University double majoring in Communications and Advertising & PR with a minor in Photography. Sarah is currently an active member in PRSSA and is also a competing member on the Grand Valley Equestrian Team. Having worked in Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, for six months, Sarah is an enthusiastic Disney fanatic. In her free time, you can find Sarah out at Lake Michigan playing fetch with her dogs, even in the dead of winter.