The time for finding a summer internship has arrived. With so many things to worry about, the last thing on your mind is what you’re going to wear if you land an interview. Pipe Dream talked to some of the most fashionable and business-savvy people in the Binghamton area and asked them the big question: How can I get stylish business-casual clothes on a budget?
Lexie Avery, a career consultant in residence at the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, said your professional look will depend on what industry you desire to work in and what company you’re going to interview for.
“Business casual in some companies can mean anything from a neat jean to suit, khakis [or] blazer sorts of things,” she said.
Avery said that depending on whether you’re applying to a tech company with a hoodie-and-shorts vibe versus a suit-laden financial firm on Wall Street, your daily business-casual wear will vary.
“There is no 100 percent right answer, so it’s important that whatever industry you go into, you do research on what kind of attire is appropriate to the industry and specific company,” she said.
Once you’ve figured out the office culture, it’s time to find your core pieces.
“What’s important as young professionals starting your career is not to initially focus on the trends and to really establish some core items, because the core items aren’t going to change,” Avery said. “So, [shopping] should be about getting those core pieces that you can mix and match and add accessories to.”
Avery said you should spend the bulk of your budget on things like pants, khakis and shirts. Desiree DePersiis, owner of Downtown Binghamton shop Tesorina Boutique, said she has noticed an overall push toward more casual and comfortable clothing in the office.
“It has become more acceptable to stray away from the power suit that most people think of when they think ‘business wear,’” DePersiis said. “I think another misconception is to think denim is only acceptable on casual Friday, because personally, one of my favorite business-casual outfits is a pair of colored denim [jeans] with a blazer and a T-shirt and really fun accessories.”
According to Avery, accessories like socks and ties are a great way to have fun with your outfits. DePersiis echoed this and said items like jewelry, shoes or a handbag can take your look to the next level — as long as you don’t overdo it.
“Simple is the best way to be in fashion,” DePersiis said. “You don’t ever want to over-accessorize or mix too many patterns, especially in an office setting.”
Most importantly, Avery emphasized the value of finding the right size and getting your items tailored as needed.
“Most young professionals don’t even know their actual suit sizes,” Avery said. “Having wrongly fitting clothing could be just as unappealing as interviewing badly to an employer.”
Finding the right business-casual clothing can be tricky, especially when on a college student’s budget — but if you follow the above advice, you’ll hopefully have every employer thinking, “Wow — this kid knows how to dress.”