Dress for Success: 5 Essentials to Keeping Your Look Professional


Do you feel lost when it comes to dressing for success? Not sure where to start or what will help you to make a good impression? Most of us have been there! The good news is there are a few rules of thumb that will help you to keep your look up to par every time!

You can keep your outfit clean and simple or you can incorporate more of a personalized fashion into it – it’s your choice as long as it’s tasteful and not distracting! Your outfit will show without saying that you are taking your opportunity seriously, so professionalism is key! These few staple pieces to have in your closet will transform almost any look to professional instantly:

Your Outfit

A blazer. This is SO important and will speak volumes about your professionalism! If you don’t own any blazers, start out with a black one. It will go with almost any professional outfit! You can layer it over a pant suit, a business skirt outfit, or a dress! Though many department stores and designers do often carry costly blazers, you can actually find some cute ones on a budget (and no one will be able to tell a difference!) Check out Kohl’s, Target, Ross, or TJ Maxx for some great deals! And if you’re able to head to stores in person, don’t skip out looking in the clearance racks!

Your top. The key here is neat and professional. Keep it modest! Solid colors or light patterns are best because they won’t be too distracting! If you want to wear a bolder print, grab a few opinions before heading to your occasion and then rock it!

Your bottoms. Slacks or a pencil/business skirt! Skip the jeans when it comes to first impressions and watch your length if you’re choosing a skirt. Try to keep it midi-length or longer to achieve that professional look and to make a great first impression! Again, you don’t have to spend too much to find some great deals. Target, Ross, TJ Maxx, and JC Penny have some great deals, and great sale racks to look through! If you have a favorite thrift store, check it out also!

A dress. The same applies as above – professional and modest is key! Watch the length and aim for a midi-length or maxi dress. Pair your dress with a blazer or cardigan and you’re golden!

Shoes, shoes, shoes! Really just keep them neat! Neutral colors to start are great because you can mix them with so many outfits. Some black, grey, or nude closed-toed pumps or flats are excellent choices to have in your closet. Try not to go too high with the heels, as they can become a distraction. You can find great deals on business shoes at TJ Maxx, Ross, and I’ve even found some steals on clearance at Macy’s!

One of my favorite places to find professional outfit inspiration from head to toe is the Hello Gorgeous Blog! This blogger posts fabulous work appropriate outfits and links each piece (and dupes!) for easy replication! Also, New York & Company has some extremely cute professional outfits and often runs amazing sales!


Have fun with this, but don’t feel like you have to go overboard! If you’re into statement jewelry, choose either a statement necklace OR statement earrings, but don’t mix too many bold pieces together! Personally, I favor statement necklaces with a simple pair of earrings and a simple bracelet and/or watch. However, you can mix it up! If you like bold, dangly earrings, pair them with either a very simple necklace or no necklace at all. Kohl’s often has amazing jewelry on clearance!


So you have your outfit on and your jewelry is ready to go, now what to do with your hair?! This is really up to you, but follow the same rule of thumb and go for a professional look! Style your hair so that it is out of your face, otherwise it can easily cause distractions for both you and the person you are talking to if you are constantly playing with it, moving it out of your face, or tucking it behind your ears. Youtube tutorials have been my go-to (and lifesavers)! You can find easy hairstyles for any hair type on Youtube to help you prepare for your special occasion. Here is a tutorial of 3 easy and quick hairstyles you can try.


Make Up

There are often questions about what to do with makeup. In my experience it does not matter if you wear makeup or not! If you go with the all-natural look, great! If you do wear makeup, keep it classy and don’t overdo it! You don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed either way. Stick to neutral tones and avoid dark smoky eyes or extremely bright colors. Remember, you don’t want to create any distractions from your conversation, instead focus on enhancing your natural features! You also don’t have to spend a ton of money stocking up on professional makeup, you can find some simple makeup options that will enhance your look beautifully at your local drugstore for under $10 (and some even under $5!). Have fun with it! If you’re struggling, head over to Youtube and watch some tutorials! Here are a couple of my faves: Jaclyn Hill has TONS of easy-to-follow tutorials like her Natural Glam tutorial, or you can check out these great options: Interview Makeup Tutorial + Confidence Tips and Natural Everyday Makeup Tutorial (using drugstore products).


Your Demeanor

This may be the most important of them all! How you carry yourself is going to affect your impression by far the most! Confidence is KEY! So, no matter the occasion, be PREPARED. Whether that means practicing or rehearsing, researching, having your paperwork or other projects ready to go, or just simply knowing what you’re going to say when you introduce yourself – these things can help you to be confident and in

turn feel your best. SMILE and be friendly. In my experience, it’s a turn off when the other person doesn’t smile or engage with you so remember to do both! Plan ahead and get there early. There may be traffic or you may want to stop and grab a coffee or tea so give yourself extra time just in case. Get in there, and rock it!


Perhaps you have an upcoming job interview, a professional networking event, or some other opportunity that you want to dress professionally for. Dressing for success can be easier than it seems! It also doesn’t require as much as you might think, nor does it require a big budget! These tips above will help you to look your best and make a great first impression!

Martinsburg College proudly supports all of its students in their journeys toward a successful future! Each of their military-friendly programs comes with an amazing post-graduation plan that provides students information, tools, and resources to help them after they graduate! The post-graduation plan includes resume writing tips, interviewing skills, and more! Be sure to also check out their Facebook page for inspirational posts and videos such as Building a Professional Network and Dressing for Success!




Here are some fellow spouses dressing for success!