Fashion Role Model: Retail Careers

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The holiday season is chaotic for everyone. The parking? An absolute nightmare! The mile-long lines? Frustrating! Being the person that has to work in that environment for eight hours? Now that’s what I’d call driven.

Disclaimer: I work in a tiny jewelry and clothing boutique right now, and I absolutely love it.

Retail is one of the largest career fields in the U.S., with about 10 companies hiring the vast majority of retail employees. At a place like Walmart, who would have the 26th largest economy in the world if it were a country, corporate positions in retail might have sky-high potential and room for immense growth. On the other hand, if you work at a really small family-owned business like I do, you’ll basically have the same position no matter how long you’re there, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Retail is a much harder career to deal with than it appears – it usually includes some amount of manual labor, standing for hours without a break, dealing with fussy customers, and of course, the long, impatient lines of people waiting to be rang up. I’m constantly doing something, whether it’s cutting price tags, doing inventory, or Windexing the mirrors in the store, and it really does take focus and motivation. I find it very rewarding, however, and the employee discounts are fantastic.

Like I mentioned, I work in a place that sells clothes, as many of you guys probably do, and I take special care of my appearance because, in addition to myself, I represent the company, as well as my coworkers. For this post, I’ve created three looks based on three different levels of dress codes for retail careers. I hope you find inspiration in these looks!

As a note, I’d recommend that when going to a retail interview, you should dress similarly to how the people working there are dressed, because you’re showing your boss how you would fit into the company. Don’t wear a suit if you want to work at Abercrombie, and don’t wear your ripped up jeans and tank top if you’re aiming for Tiffany’s.

1. The Retail Office

Retail office look


Product Info: Blouse - Talbots, Blazer - LOFT, Skirt - ASOS, Shoes - 6pm, Bracelet - Forever 21, Bag - Target

If you’re working at the office, you’ll want to have a clean, professional look that would be appropriate for any kind of desk job. Of course, you might find inspiration in your brand or company and keep up with the latest fashions, but I would recommend having at least a few office-appropriate looks that can be worn over and over again. However, classic doesn’t mean boring, and I always like to incorporate accessories, such as a cute bracelet and a girly top, to stay true to my own style, and that’s what I did for the outfit here.

The skirt is a classic pencil skirt with a fun cutout, but if you wear a skirt like this, keep in mind that the slit needs to end an inch or two above the knee or less. Of course, if your dress code is really strict, even that wouldn't work. This jacket is a bit more unique, and while it’s still classy and appropriate, it also has a stylish edge that doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the look. The shoes and accessories are muted and versatile enough to wear with many different outfits, and I made sure that the purse has a lot of room to store all of those random things you’ll have to throw into your bag.

2. Dressy Casual

Dressy casual retail look


Product Info: Blouse - Forever 21, Cami - Old Navy, Skirt - Choies, Jacket - ASOS, Shoes - Nordstrom

Now I know “dressy casual” isn’t actually a term used for dress codes, but this what most of you would call business casual. This usually means closed-toed shoes (or more formal open-toed shoes, like these wedges), and no revealing clothing. Blazers and ties would be considered over-the-top, and jeans or flip-flops should not be worn at this level. Khakis are sometimes pushing it as well, depending on the company.

The reason I’m calling it dressy casual is because for jobs at fashion retailers (which I’m sure a huge chunk of you have!), you want to look polished and on top of the latest styles... even if you really aren’t. That’s why I keep pushing for classic pieces with a bit of an edge that’ll keep them from looking too boring, just like the ones in the outfit above.

This look is actually inspired by someone I saw working at a jewelry store of some kind – was it Gauthier? The woman wore a white blouse with a flared, floral print skirt like this one, as well as stockings and classic heels. I threw in the jacket because I feel like it can be worn in a lot of different ways, plus it looks super classy.

3. Retail Casual

Retail casual look


Product Info: Jeans - American Eagle, Boots - Forever 21, Cardigan - Tilly's, Shirt - H&M | Hair Photo: ELLE

For the rest of us, retail means comfortable but never sloppy. There’s a lot of apron-wearing in these jobs, and a lot of physical labor is usually required as well. This means you’ll have to dress in a way that allows for a lot of movement without showing too much skin. Also, don't wear anything that you’re afraid to get dirty, because who knows what might happen when you’re taking out the trash? (Read: bag ripping open and spilling its gross contents all over you.)

These jeans are incredibly comfortable, and aren’t distracting in any way. I love the way they fit the body, and I chose a simple but attractive cardigan to wear with it. Not only does it look super comfy, but it's also a good idea to layer. The top chosen to go under it is just a simple cotton t-shirt, without any frills.

Still, no flip-flops here – they aren’t work shoes, period – so instead opt for comfortable flat boots. I wouldn't dare wear heels if I knew I was going to be walking around all day, and it would look really out of place in a casual retail environment.

I say this again and again, but make sure to keep hair neatly out of your face! A quick side braid is easy and cute, but takes very little effort and time.

Your Thoughts?

Do you or have you ever worked in retail? What do you think of these looks? Which ones would you wear? What other careers would you like to see featured? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!