Ask Belle: Graduate School Attire
May 28, 2014
I’m leaving my professional job of three years (conservative business attire everyday) and will be starting a full-time masters program in DC in August. I have no idea what I am supposed to wear to class. I know it is not as dressy as I wear now, but it is certainly not the yoga pants that I wore during undergrad.
Suggestions? Thanks! Emily
With law school starting next week, this is a topic that’s been on my mind. Obviously, I don’t intend to wear my congressional attire to class. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t want to look my best. However, some of my friends and readers have suggested that dressing nicely for class could be a drawback to my success.
It seems that given the cutthroat nature of most law schools, making an effort to look nice might make me a target for the Machiavellian machinations of 25-year-olds. They argue that in an environment where sweatpants and dirty hair are deemed acceptable because “it’s just class,” someone who dresses well could be deemed to be putting on airs. But in reality, I plan to treat law school like a job, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to dress accordingly, albeit casually.
For the first outfit on the upper left, I wanted something that was business casual. A striped dress is a summer staple for me, so I decided to pair it with colored flats for a bit of pop. I also found this Jones New York stripe dress with short sleeves. Plus-size? Try this Donna Ricco dress. Petite? I love this Banana Republic bold stripe dress, also in misses.
Because classrooms are usually cold (and the people in Washington State love their air conditioning more than anyone other than Texans), I thought I would bring a maxi-dress into the rotation. Splendid dresses are my favorite, but this Target dress (in four colors) is a great option. Plus-size ladies should try this short sleeve maxi, also from Target.
I paired the maxi-dress with a long pendant necklace in a faux-malachite stone and a black hobo bag. For the sandal, I went with snakeskin. I like the sandal above (esp. the price), but this snakeskin sandal from Rachel Zoe is my favorite.
For the last outfit, I wanted something relaxed, but still business casual. I paired my favorite white jeans with an oxford shirt and a closed-toe sandal. You could also pair it with a peasant top or a long tunic, if you want something less stuffy than an oxford. And for a little contrast, I added these turquoise stack bangles. Looking for something cheaper? Try this under-$25 set from Mykonos.