Dress For Anything, Without Losing Your Personal Style

Here are some tips on how to give your professional aesthetic a touch of personal style, from Solange Franklin, a stylist who knows how to dress the coolest girls for anything.

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Tip No. 1: Do Your Industry Research

Before you ask: no, your pants do not have to match your jacket.
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Repeat after us: never show up to a job interview without doing your research. For starters, it's just a rookie move (which you want to avoid, right?), but additionally, it could actually help you figure out what the hell you're supposed to wear. "You should always think about location and the industry you're entering," says Solange Franklin, editorial stylist and fashion editor-at-large of Paper magazine. "It's easy to find blogs and interviews regarding your industry that give an idea [of dress code]."

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While surfing the web and social media is key, don't forget to take an IRL look, too. "If you're going in for a first-round interview, see how the people around you are dressed," Franklin advises. "Of course, you want to dress for the job you want, but don't dress like the relaxed CEO when you're trying to get your foot into the door. I would err on the conservative side at first and then see how upper management dresses." You can even be blunt about it, as Franklin suggests asking your interviewers about the office attire vibe.

Tip No. 2: Keep Things Modern

The more buttons on a blazer, the better, right?

Once you've searched high and low for insight into your summer job aesthetic, it's time to weave in some personal touches. "There's a pretty clear standard [of dress] for banking, but you don't want to step into the office in a 1985-style suit," Franklin says. No reason to be going full-on Wall Street with your wardrobe! Stray away from the traditional and amp things up a bit.

"If you like suiting and statement jewelry, get some pearls—but don't wear the ones your grandma had." — Solange Franklin

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"Start off with what you're comfortable with," Franklin says. "If you like suiting and statement jewelry, get some pearls—but don't wear the ones your grandma had, find pink ones or irregularly shaped ones that give you a private joy." At the end of the day, you just want to feel like your best self in whatever you're wearing, because that is what breeds confidence.

If you're still feeling a bit lost, try a simple switch. "The easiest hack is color," Franklin says. "If you have to wear a navy suit every day, you can subvert the culture by wearing a lilac blouse. It's OK to be that person that wears a loud shirt under suiting, but try it in doses." And if that's not enough, move on to prints. "Add a touch of print, whether it's doing a pinstripe instead of just navy."

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"In the end, wear something that's attuned to what you're doing and aiming to do—that's a better way to say appropriate."

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Finally, if you're looking to step into the media, fashion, or entertainment industries, feel free to go the distance. "In magazine culture, the interns and assistants wear insane trends of the moment, which is accepted because it shows enthusiasm," Franklin says. "In the end, wear something that's attuned to what you're doing and aiming to do—that's a better way to say appropriate."

Tip No. 3: Be Ready for Change

Simple can look cool with the right white T-shirt and black suit.

A day-to-night outfit change, that is. Say you get off work at 5, but you're meeting friends at 6—you don't want to feel stuffy or too dressed up for the occasion. That's where planning ahead for what Franklin calls a now-and-later outfit comes in. "The easiest way to achieve a transition is with a shoe and a beauty change, whether it's adding a lipstick, a new cat eye from the runway, or some sparkle," Franklin says. "I love shirting, so you could wear a white T-shirt with bell sleeves that's tucked in during the day, but when going out, is tied at the waist."

"Always keep your dancing shoes under your desk."

And if all else fails, just remember this: "always keep your dancing shoes under your desk," Franklin says. Whether those are metallic leather Nike sneakers or strappy Steve Madden sandals is up to you!

Tip No. 4: Become a Curator

Challenge yourself to take an outfit to the next level with, say, some pink sneakers.

You know what you like and what you don't like, so why not base your casual and professional outfits off of your preferences? Trust us when we say it will make shopping and getting dressed much more efficient. "I don't spend a lot of time actually getting ready," Franklin says. "I think it's about curation, and that's super-important when building your wardrobe."

She mentions that trends are always cool to go after, if that's your thing, but a little editing doesn't hurt. "I know I love oxford shirts and skirts, so it makes it a lot easier for me when I'm shopping because I go directly to the skirt rack," Franklin says. "Once you start curating the things you love, you'll be able to see what holes you have." Maybe the one thing you've been missing this whole time are some basic AF tees, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Tip No. 5: Transform the Way You Get Dressed

Don't feel like talking? Say what's on your mind with a graphic tee.

One of the biggest culprits of a bad outfit is rushing to get ready in the morning—it can cause you to throw on a hodgepodge of things that just don't seem right together. Eliminate that inevitable dread by asking yourself some questions. "Although I'm a very emotional dresser, I look at my schedule and think about where I'm going and who I'm seeing," Franklin says. "That also includes thinking about any now-and-later looks, and my location. And I stick to clothes that will insert joy into my day and make me feel comfortable, confident, and urban."

Oh, and one more thing: be realistic. "I would love to be trotting around New York City in four-inch heels, but I'd also rather be wearing scalloped flats," Franklin says. The moral of the story? Be comfy, be happy.

Want more tips for looking 💯 on a daily basis? Check out Solange Franklin's work at solangefranklin.com and follow her @solangefranklin.

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