What My College's Dress Code Taught Me About Fashion – M & S
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What My College's Dress Code Taught Me About Fashion

Outfit Ideas

My college has a dress code. Actually, let me specify—a business casual dress code. To many college students, the idea of trekking to class on less than three hours of sleep in a full-on, put-together ensemble is enough to keep them holed up in their dorms dressed in pajamas. Not me. Although it has taken a bit of an adjustment, dressing up every day has actually improved my professionalism, helped me learn how to marry trends with work-appropriate attire, and given me a new perspective on how to dress and act for the workplace.

As someone who enjoys fashion, finding trendy business casual options isn't always easy. There are definitely days when I'm tempted to slip on my new kick-flare, high-rise jeans and a crop top (or, I'll admit it, sweatpants). But with guidelines that don't allow for jeans, T-shirts, or sneakers, a lot of fashionable options for dressing for school are out the window.

My go-to school (and work) uniform has adapted to consist of a rotation of oversize blazers, wide-leg trousers, and black booties. Operating within workwear guidelines, my outfits du jour have slowly evolved over the semesters to include pieces I'm actually excited about that still fit the bill (e.g., my new pink blazer I'm dying to try out). Not only is learning how to master cool business casual a useful tool for any office-based profession, but I find that it's led to a new confidence that translates into my work.

I am obligated to dress up for school and (as much as possible!) work, but I find that it's also helped my off-duty style to be more put-together. For instance, I like to pair a tuxedo blazer with flared trousers and a pair of shiny booties for maximum trend impact. Or for a weekend look, transforming those flared trousers by donning my favorite chunky sneakers and maybe a bodysuit. My takeaway: Regardless of what your office (or classroom) dress code is, copping a few staple pieces can elevate your on- or off-duty style game to a whole new level.

This pink blazer is anything but boring. Available in sizes S to M (coming soon).
When in doubt, go with a chic pattern. Available in size 14.
Earn extra trend points by adding a fanny pack to your go-to pencil skirt. Available in sizes S to M.
These understated mules are the perfect trend to try in the office. Available in sizes 5.5 to 10.
Who ever said business casual has to mean bland? Available in sizes XS to L.
Trust me—these will become your favorite versatile trousers. Available in sizes 10 to 20.
This boxy top is the perfect modern spin on the classic white button-down. Available in sizes 34 to 38.
Comfy, stylish, and easy. Available in sizes XS to L.
Add a bit of drama to dress up. Available in sizes XS to L.
This ultra-minimalist dress will go with everything. Available in sizes XS to L.
This is the only blouse you need. Available in sizes 2 to 12.
These sophisticated loafers add that cool factor to any outfit. Available in sizes 4 to 12.
Shake it up by adding some leather to your favorite pencil skirt ensemble. Available in sizes 0 to 8 (coming soon).
This stripe of green is sure to spice up your favorite pants. Available in sizes XS to XL (coming soon).
Mod and chic—pair this simple dress with a turtleneck and heels. Available in sizes 2 to 4.
Bring spring into the office with these sunny mules. Available in sizes 6 to 10.
Stay on-trend with a minimalist coat. Available in sizes XS to XL.
You'll be obsessed with these striped trousers. Available in sizes 14W to 26W.

If you're like me, you might need a bit of motivation to don head-to-toe business casual every day. So, even though the idea of professional attire may seem exhausting, I've found that choosing a few key pieces that I can wear to work and off-duty makes a world of difference in my appearance and performance at school and work. By investing in a few exciting items, you'll be planning your outfits days in advance. And it never hurts to be the trendsetter of the office!

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