You've graduated: Dress like an adult

Welcome to WalletPop's series "You've graduated. Now what?" Our bloggers have a wealth of suggestions to help you find you way through that time of amazing transformation, from student to working stiff.

No longer can you spend your days lounging around in t-shirts and jeans. Not if you expect to be taken seriously, anyway. College is probably the easiest job you'll ever have, with short hours, a relatively light work load (stop complaining... we know you don't study THAT much), and no dress code requirements.

But out in the real world, it's a different ballgame for those who want jobs and expect to be treated like adults. Obviously, the clothing you wear to work will be dictated by your industry. There will be some jobs in which daily jeans and t-shirts are a necessity. In most professional jobs, your dress will range from well-pressed khakis to full-blown business suits.

Whatever your professional wardrobe, please make sure it's always clean and well-pressed. There's nothing worse than a young attorney wearing a wrinkly shirt and suit. The same goes for someone in a more casual industry. Wrinkled pants don't do much for your image.

When in doubt about what to wear, the best piece of advice that I have is to overdress. In any business situation, if you have to choose between potentially being underdressed or overdressed, the "over" choice is always best. Why? If you come underdressed (even if it's a mistake) you lose credibility. You look sloppy compared to everyone else and they might question your judgment, even about something as simple as clothes. You can't lose with overdressed. At the very worst, they think you're a little formal. But most likely, they'll be impressed that you wanted to impress them with some nicer clothes.

So don't throw away your jeans. You'll need them on the weekends and for certain casual dress work days. But look at your post-graduation days as a time to show your true potential as a working adult. When you dress better, you feel better. I promise. So start upgrading your wardrobe today.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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