When it comes to clothing, teens usually have it pretty easy — casual, comfortable clothes work in most settings, such as school or an evening out with friends. However, at some point during your teen years, you may find yourself in situations that require a more professional look. Whether it’s a job interview, college event or part-time work an office setting, you’ll need to step up your game. But that doesn’t mean you should raid your parents’ closet. You probably have the makings of a professional outfit in your own wardrobe — it’s just about putting the pieces together in the right way.
Stay Wrinkle Free
No matter what clothes you wear, you’re never going to look polished and professional if they’re full of wrinkles. The night before an interview or a shift at work, take out the clothes that you plan to wear and iron out any wrinkles. A garment steamer can also work well to smooth wrinkled clothing quickly and easily. If you don’t have either of these appliances on hand, a wrinkle-release spray can come in handy – simply spray it on your clothing, tug on the material to smooth out the wrinkles and let it air dry. You can also toss the clothes in the dryer if you’re in a hurry.
While a suit is considered the epitome of professional wear, it’s usually not necessary for teens to wear them to work on a daily basis. Instead, opt for separate pieces that have a polished look. Avoid ripped, torn clothing or items that expose too much skin. If you’re unsure what is appropriate, consult the company’s employee manual for the dress code or ask a supervisor for guidance. For girls, dresses or skirts that reach the knee are usually acceptable. You can also wear dress pants if you aren’t a fan of skirts. On top, a button-down blouse or cardigan and shell are appropriate. For boys, button-down shirts are usually the best option. Add a tie if your company requires it. Khakis and chinos work well and if your company has a more casual environment, you may be able to wear a polo shirt with your pants.
When it comes to choosing colors for your clothing, stay away from bright colors that may be too bold for the workplace. Instead, stick to neutrals that have a more conservative, professional look. That means colors like white, beige, black, gray, tan and brown are all ideal options. Dark colors like navy, hunter green and cranberry can also work well in a professional setting. In the spring and summer, soft pastel shades like baby pink, sky blue, mint, lilac and butter are also appropriate.
Choose Accessories With Care
When you want to look professional, leave your casual shoes at home. That means no flip flops, sandals or sneakers. Girls can wear low-heeled pumps if they’re comfortable, but ballet flats and loafers are also acceptable. Avoid open-toed shoes which are often discouraged by company dress codes. Boys should wear dress or loafer style shoes. A pair of dress boots may also be acceptable. Jewelry can help add personality to an outfit, but when you want to look professional, don’t overdo it. Avoid large, dangling earrings; thick, gaudy chains or bracelets; and large cocktail rings. Simple stud earrings are your best bets, along with delicate necklaces or small pendants.
References and ResourcesSeventeen: 17 Dos and Don’ts for Your College Interview
Teen Vogue: What to Wear to a Job Interview
Rice University Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology: The College Interview -- The Basics