As young, professional women, navigating a professional wardrobe can often be difficult and exhausting if you are unsure of what you are doing. When focusing on your work, internship, or presentation, the last thing you want to be thinking about is what you are wearing. The constant struggle of young women is deciphering the dress code of an event, and when is most appropriate to wear different outfits or clothing pieces. The key is to find timeless pieces that work seamlessly between looks, so your pieces last longer and you get your money’s worth. Here is the breakdown that you need to decipher when to wear different outfits.


Probably the simplest category to navigate; casual style is perfect for long class days, or grabbing lunch with friends. Even in a really simple or casual environment, dressing nicely and with a sense of style will go a long way to make you appear more put together and professional, even if it’s just for class. A casual outfit could include jeans, a nice top or sweater, and flats or boots. See a number of examples here:

Smart Casual:

This style is a bit tougher to master, because its name is a bit ambiguous. Many times, you may be thinking, what even is smart casual? This is an outfit that you’d wear out to a nicer dinner, or to meet your boyfriend’s parents. It’s still casual, but you look a bit more put together and cleaner. A great way to elevate a casual outfit is some fun accessories or a statement necklace. Here are some examples of smart casual:

Business casual:

This style further elevates your look, and appears more polished and professional. This look still should give off a professional vibe, but is more relaxed than business attire. Depending on your internship, this is usually a great place to start for working in the office. This look is also appropriate when conducting a meeting for a club or organization you may be part of, or when meeting with your mentor. In terms of footwear, stay away from open-toed shoes, and stick with either flats or low heels. Here are some business casual looks:

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Business or Business Professional:

This could go by either name, but this is the style where you break out the full suit. This is what you would wear for an interview, or for a high-level meeting. Stick with neutrals, and keep accessories small and nondescript. This is not the time to break out the new leopard heels or the big hoop earrings, unfortunately. Here are some examples of business/business professional wear:


While this category is not distinctly a category of dress, having the right accessories pulls together any outfit, and makes an old outfit look like new. Accessories such as a watch, a professional winter coat, and the right pair of heels elevates any look and automatically makes you look more put together. Here are some examples of appropriate accessories:

Now that you’ve got the right clothing pieces, you’re ready to go out and conquer the world!

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Joleen T
FFL Contributor
Joleen is a Contributor at FFL. She enjoys reading, going to Chipotle, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. You can find her at the library, or studying for the LSAT. Her goal is to become a lawyer, and eventually run for public office. Her role models are Nikki Haley and Sandra Day O’Connor.

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