Inspiration: youthful professional outfits

As I've mentioned a few times before, I feel like I've been moving towards a more mature sense of style. As much as I love my denim cut-offs and leggings-as-pants, being able to dress it up a notch makes me feel strong, beautiful and like I got my shit together. I get an immense satisfaction out of feeling like I look good, or more specifically, like I dressed the part. Especially when I need to perform: a presentation, a meeting, a conference.

Now, while I like having the option to dress up at times, I don't want to go all corporate on yo asses. After all, I'm just a 27-year-old PhD student, and I should treasure the fact that I get to dress however I please instead of jumping into a 180° style switch. Finding a balance between my own youthful/trendy style and a more professional aesthetic without having to purchase an entirely new wardrobe is a challenge I'm sure many will identify with, so I put together a few youthful professional outfits you might be able to replicate with stuff you already have in your closet. Or at least you'll only have to buy a couple of quality pieces.

The pictures all link through to polyvore, where you can see the details on where to buy these pieces.

Outfit #1: summer professional

summer professional style for women

I don't know about you, but I find it much easier to dress professional during the colder months. Most of my summer clothes are, well, a bit revealing (legs or back, mostly), and when the sun comes out, so do my bright colours and flirty patterns. Now, this outfit is pretty monochromatic, but that doesn't mean colours are inappropriate at professional events. I just think that when you only just start out building a professional wardrobe, sticking to a neutral palette of colours that you can easily pair with other items is the smart (and cost-effective) thing to do. Just think how often you will be able to wear all of these pieces! I'm especially into the skirt and the loafers. I really suck at wearing heels, and ballet flats often look too sugar, spice and everything nice on me, so loafers are the perfect solution to that style problem.
I'd wear this outfit with a ponytail and maybe either a cat eye or some red lipstick, if I was feeling like it, to inject some fun into the look. To make this outfit cold-weather-appropriate, I'd just swap the loafers for a pair of black ankle boots, and add a pair of tights.

Outfit #2: everyday professional

easy professional outfit for women

This outfit is just perfect, isn't it? You could easily wear dark denim instead of the trousers and still look very neat, because of the soothing colour palette. Blues, greys, blacks and whites are my comfort colours, and knowing your colours and building on those assures that your wardrobe will be a whole rather than a bunch of separate capsule wardrobes. I'd keep my make up and hair very soft with this look, to let the androgynous vibe take center stage.

Outfit #3: relaxed professional

relaxed professional outfit for women

Last but not least, a grown up version of my regular summer wear: printed dress, lightweight trench coat and wedge sandals. Beautywise, this is an everything-goes type of outfit that would work great with all kinds of hair and make up looks. Hair up for a more professional feel, hair down to keep the vibe more relaxed.

As you can see, all of the items featured in these collages are highly versatile and could be swapped into either of the other collages. That's the thing I'd try to achieve, because it means you can build a rich wardrobe based on just a limited reserve of garments. Which is a must, because you can generally expect to spend a bit more on quality workwear than you do on your relaxed weekendwear.

I desperately want to find a beautiful wrap dress with a full skirt in a non-poly fabric, but modest knee length dresses seem to have gone out of style, except in very literally retro prints. Any tips on stores where I could find something like this, at an affordable price point (under 60€)? Other items on my wishlist: comfortable loafers (or other flats) to go with skirts and dresses as well as trousers, one or two perfect fitting blazers (one light, one dark), and one or two light, airy skirts (not too short) in an interesting print, preferably made from cotton or viscose.

Does the challenge of transitioning to a more mature style sound familiar to you? Any tips or shop recommendations to share? Shoot!


  1. ik denk dat ik moeite ga hebben met "work-appropriate" kledij te dragen. Uiteindelijk hangt veel ook af van het soort bedrijf waar je werkt denk ik.. xo

  2. oh ja absoluut, en ik denk dat het corporate klimaat hier in Belgie en Nederland erg losjes is op vlak van stijl :-)