Ask the Bean: Mastering the Fashion of the MBA

June 22, 2008 • Magazine

Ask the Bean: Mastering the Fashion of the MBA

Ask the Bean: Mastering the Fashion of the MBA

Sun, 2008-06-22 03:00

Dear Bean:

I am starting in an MBA program this fall. I haven’t been in an educational setting since undergraduate school; and I know that sweatpants, cami’s and flip flops aren’t necessarily the attire for an MBA program. Is there a way I can look professional, but in a way more suited for a classroom versus a board meeting?

Smartly Suited

Dear Suited:

We all remember the days of dorm rooms, our first chosen class schedule, late nights and early mornings, and a whole new world from high school. The idea of college is to assist in growing students into independent individuals and prepare them for their future lives and potential careers. After several years of mastering undergrad, these adults are given black robes, a diploma and the path to their chosen futures.

After our black robes, we are given new dress codes to fit our graduated lifestyles. Congratulations on starting on the path towards obtaining your MBA — but agreed, flip flops and sweat pants should be kept in the post-high school bracket or on the couch while studying your textbooks.

The first day of class is always a stressful one — don’t look too eager, don’t look too casual, blend in but stand out (but dare say without the “brown-noser” title), and above all, wear something fantastic.

I recommend avoiding the suit your first day unless specifically recommended by your program. Wear something between business casual and professional — September is the perfect time for the skirt/blouse combination. You can also put those trendy wide-legged trousers to good use. Just add a skinny belt, ruffle blouse, pumps, and a fantastic tote, and you are on your way for scholastic greatness (or at the very least scholastic fashion). And if you’re battling the waning temperatures of the classroom, make sure you have a blazer or oversized cardigan handy.

I do recommend avoiding very loud colors, patterns or embellishments, until you get a feel of what the general attire is worn in your program. It shouldn’t be assumed however to avoid all colors and patterns — but pair the statement pieces with classic standards such as the solid blazer, cardigan, black pants or a cotton blouse.

For shoes, always wear pumps or heels with slacks and make sure they are closed-toe. Round-toed pumps are perfect for your skirt and blouse combinations; I wouldn’t recommend wedges despite how well the color goes with your outfit. Another option for the lunch meeting look is the ballet flat with appropriate skirt or dress. Pointed-toe flats walk closer to the path of board meeting, and also offer more comfort versus the sling-back heels.

During your future education, keep in mind that you are not dressing for a job interview. You are dressing for your future career. Dress for the dress code instilled in your classroom — whether it be professional, business casual or casual Friday. The bottom line is to be comfortable and confident in what you wear. That way you can concentrate on the important tasks at hand—doing your homework and doing your job. Congratulations, MBA; and good luck!

1. Oscar de la Renta Tweed Bell Skirt
2. Vivienne Westwood Anglomania
3. James Perse Cotton Jersey Utility Skirt, MCQ Cardigan, Maloles Footwear
4. Tory Burch Myahh Wide Legged Pants
5. Michael Kors Wide-Leg Pants
6. Diane von Furstenberg Kaomo Wrap Dress
7. V-Neck Surplice Stripe Dress by M Missoni
8. Sandrine Blouse by Mayle

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