It’s that time of year! Whether you are headed off for a summer job or an internship in a big city, college is the time to start col­lecting pieces that will build the foun­dation of your pro­fes­sional wardrobe. Check out a few tips below as you start com­piling pro­fes­sional clothing while staying true to your per­sonal style.

Staples Every Woman Should Have:

A classic pants or skirt-suit in a year-round color — black or navy are uni­ver­sally flat­tering and timeless. If you want, diversify your wardrobe by investing in suits in season-spe­cific colors and fabrics: a wool-blend wine or forest green for fall and winter and a lilac or light beige in a linen-blend for spring and summer.

Dress pants: With so many styles available today — from slim-fit ankle pants to paperbag-waist flowy trousers — you’re bound to find a pair that looks pol­ished and com­bines comfort with pro­fes­sional chic. Add variety to your wardrobe by pur­chasing a pair of plaid, gingham, or statement color slacks. Alter­na­tively, try a wide-leg crepe jumpsuit and pop a blazer on top for an instant statement outfit.

Skirts: Tra­di­tionally con­sidered the more formal suiting option for women, you really can’t go wrong with a simple pencil skirt. Make sure that your skirt stays pro­fes­sional by choosing one with a modest length and one that isn’t too skin-tight. If you want to jazz up your pro­fes­sional skirt look, go for a pleated or slip-style satin midi skirt. They’re all the rage right now and add a touch of fem­inine chic to workwear.

Blouses: These serve as the perfect base top for all pro­fes­sional looks. Look for various neutral shades, such as cream, gray, light blue, blush pink, and camel to add interest to your one or two staple suits. Be sure to vary sleeve length, neckline, and material for maximum pairing options. Once you have a few ver­satile blouses, invest in various prints — florals, animal prints, and stripes just to name a few.

Acces­sories: These are a great way to let your per­son­ality and per­sonal style shine through in what is often con­sidered to be drab and boring pro­fes­sional dress codes. Wearing a navy suit? Add lilac or baby blue straw dangly ear­rings for a pop of color. Weave a pat­terned hair scarf into your ponytail or add a few neutral leather bar­rettes to your hair­style. Think that you need to carry a bulky leather briefcase to work or your internship? Think again. Invest in a leather tote to carry your laptop and other neces­sities. Start off with a neutral color that coor­di­nates with most of your outfits, then spice it up and pur­chase a tote in your sig­nature, go-to color. As far as shoes, start with black or beige pumps and then embrace what makes your style unique and buy those pro­fes­sional statement heels you’ve always wanted! Whether it’s a plaid stiletto or a pale blue block heel, your shoes will def­i­nitely add a bit of spice and char­acter to your business attire. 

Where to Shop:

Ann Taylor


Banana Republic (Check out Banana Republic Factory for more affordable fashion) 


ThredUp: search spe­cific brands, styles, and con­di­tions for low-price, high-quality attire.

Hillsdale ladies, pre­sen­tation and poise can go a long way, so don’t be afraid to embrace your per­sonal style in the work­place. So go treat yourself to that item you’ve been eyeing – you’ve worked hard this semester to secure that position and it’s time to celebrate!