UW Students Learn How to Dress For the Workplace

Workplace appropriate?

Although the University of Washington does not have an apparel program, Theresa Olson is determined to knock some fashion sense into her student’s heads in whatever ways she can. Acting as the assistant director for the retail management program at the Foster School of Business, Olson is the brain power behind Fashion Week on campus that kicked off its festivities yesterday. Tonight’s lecture topic, how to dress for the workplace, is a special presentation Olson hopes to serve as effective ammunition against poor choices some of her students make.

It’s not really my place to tell them that they look like a hooker or a junkie,” Olson says over the phone this morning. To do the talking for her, Olson has arranged for a panel of experts to lead the discussion who come from a variety of corporations such as JC Penny, Aveda and Wells Fargo Bank.

Panel members will take turns speaking about what they deem work appropriate and address Olson’s big picture idea.

“I want to get them to see that how the dress matters. It matters in their relationships with customers, clients and colleagues. It also matters to those making decisions in their career path–like their boss,” Olson explains. “I want them to realize that how they dress is not always about conforming.

Even in a city as laid back as Seattle, employers still want to see some effort and tired UW seniors are in need of some wardrobe advice before diving into the working world.

“Being on a college campus you see everything,” UW senior Kaylen Steele says with a laugh. A communication major, Steele emphasizes that finding the right balance between comfort and style actually helps her stay alert in class. “I feel more awake when I’m put together,” she says when dressing in something other than head to toe sweats.

While style expectations differ depending on where you work, Olson believes putting even the smallest amount of effort in how you dress (that means keeping the slouchy workout pants for workouts rather than the workplace, unless you’re a gym teacher) garners overall respect.

“Life is not Sex in the City. It is looking good, looking smart, age appropriate and engendering trust in clients and supervisors,” she says, adding an important point:  “It’s a place where you spend a major chunk of your life and you want to look good and be in fashion.”

The event will be held at Paccar Hall in room 391 at 5:30 p.m.

Photo from Kansas Poetry on Flickr