Dress for DC: How to Be Taken Seriously at 19

A friend recently asked my advice about what her daughter should wear now that she's starting out in DC. She's young and feels like no one takes her seriously. My advice was as follows... When you’re trying not to be taken for a kid at work, the two most important things are a couple of well cut blazers and comfortable but chic heels. Pair them with everything from skinny jeans to sheath dresses and you’ll be good to go.

I learned early on at age 19 working on presidential campaigns that if I had a blazer on I was taken more seriously. That doesn’t mean you have to have a dull suit – in fact, break away from all of the office drones in ill fitting, cheap suits.

Most of my wardrobe consists of simple sheath dresses, mostly black or navy, but sometimes with a dramatic splash of color. I toss on a blazer for a meeting with the boss, then lose it to go out with friends. (When you’re just starting out it’s important to buy clothes that can do double duty.)

It’s also important to note, that while my salary has gone up, the brands I shop may be pricier than entry level salary, but there are well cut, great options at H&M, Target, Old Navy, Banana Republic, JCrew etc that follow the same looks. Also don’t forget to scour Filenes, Marshalls, Ross… I still get a ton of great stuff there.

PS. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Just no cleavage, midriffs or too short skirts. And no flip flops unless you’re walking from metro. ;)

PSS. How do you think my DC look from 1993-4 has weathered the years? Both of those ensembles were care of Ann Taylor I believe...

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