What My College's Dress Code Taught Me About Fashion


Style du Monde

My college has a dress code. Actually, let me specify—a business casual dress code. To many college students, the idea of trekking to class on less than three hours of sleep in a full-on, put-together ensemble is enough to keep them holed up in their dorms dressed in pajamas. Not me. Although it has taken a bit of an adjustment, dressing up every day has actually improved my professionalism, helped me learn how to marry trends with work-appropriate attire, and given me a new perspective on how to dress and act for the workplace.

As someone who enjoys fashion, finding trendy business casual options isn't always easy. There are definitely days when I'm tempted to slip on my new kick-flare, high-rise jeans and a crop top (or, I'll admit it, sweatpants). But with guidelines that don't allow for jeans, T-shirts, or sneakers, a lot of fashionable options for dressing for school are out the window.

My go-to school (and work) uniform has adapted to consist of a rotation of oversize blazers, wide-leg trousers, and black booties. Operating within workwear guidelines, my outfits du jour have slowly evolved over the semesters to include pieces I'm actually excited about that still fit the bill (e.g., my new pink blazer I'm dying to try out). Not only is learning how to master cool business casual a useful tool for any office-based profession, but I find that it's led to a new confidence that translates into my work.

I am obligated to dress up for school and (as much as possible!) work, but I find that it's also helped my off-duty style to be more put-together. For instance, I like to pair a tuxedo blazer with flared trousers and a pair of shiny booties for maximum trend impact. Or for a weekend look, transforming those flared trousers by donning my favorite chunky sneakers and maybe a bodysuit. My takeaway: Regardless of what your office (or classroom) dress code is, copping a few staple pieces can elevate your on- or off-duty style game to a whole new level.

If you're like me, you might need a bit of motivation to don head-to-toe business casual every day. So, even though the idea of professional attire may seem exhausting, I've found that choosing a few key pieces that I can wear to work and off-duty makes a world of difference in my appearance and performance at school and work. By investing in a few exciting items, you'll be planning your outfits days in advance. And it never hurts to be the trendsetter of the office!