So you’ve landed your first REAL job and suddenly your super chic student wardrobe doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Sure, a graphic tee and jeans is the perfect weekend staple but as cute as your outfit may be sadly it’s just not appropriate in most professional office environments. But how do you make sure you’re ready to take on the corporate world without blowing your budget? We spoke to Alia Motani, Creative Director at Brands Luv U (BLU) to get her top tips on how to dress professionally without spending a small fortune.

Any working woman trying to build a career (while also taking care of a range of other responsibilities) will tell you that finding the perfect outfit each morning is often the last thing on your mind. But, it is important to pay close attention to your work attire – whether it’s for an interview, a normal working day or an important business meeting, so you always feel on top of your game.

Here’s a helpful checklist every woman should keep in mind to make sure you’re killing it at work every day.

Follow the dress code:

Every industry or office has a dress code. For example, dressing for a job at a corporate company might not be the same as the accepted work attire at a graphic design agency. Whatever the dress code is at your office it’s important to make sure your clothes reflect your work environment. If you’re unsure of an appropriate outfit to wear for an interview or even on your first day of work at a new company, you can always check with your interviewer beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask this question and chances are they will give you credit for taking the initiative to understand how things work on their turf.

Keep it tidy:

If there’s one key thing to keep in mind it’s to ensure you always look neat and tidy. A killer outfit means very little if you’re rocking chipped nail polish, creased clothes or scuffed, worn-down shoes. Keep your nails neatly manicured at all times, and remember that nail polish isn’t always encouraged or allowed in certain work environments, so be mindful of this before interviews or important business meetings. Make sure your clothes are pressed and smelling fresh, and give those heels a good wipe down before the big day.

work wear

When in doubt, smart and professional always wins:

You don’t have to blow your budget to look professional and a few key basic pieces that are easy to mix and match can help you get through the week. When in doubt, you can always rely on a well-fitting pair of pants, paired with a blouse or blazer and heels as a winning outfit no matter where you work. Invest in two or three pairs of professional looking bottoms and then expand your professional wardrobe with a range of blouses. Go for neutral, complimentary colours and add one or two dainty items of jewellery, like a simple watch and earrings, to top off the look. If you’re sporting an up-style, make sure your hair is tied back neatly without too may bells and whistles in the form of hair accessories, or understated and chic if it’s left loose.

Avoid showing off too much skin:

Certain things are best left to the imagination, and this is especially true in the workplace. Skirts that are too short, blouses that let it all hang out and tight-fitting spaghetti strap tops are generally a no-go when it comes to dressing appropriately for the office, but you can always incorporate stockings, tailored jackets and cardigans to cover up a little. Once again, remember to keep it tidy – make sure there are no rips in your stockings and carry a spare just in case, and go for smart sweaters and cardigans.

Be comfortable:

Interviews and first days at work are stressful enough as it is without having to worry about walking around the office in the world’s most uncomfortable heels. There’s no need to try to be someone you are not, so avoid clothes that make you feel awkward and self-conscious – opt for outfits that make you feel confident in yourself and your abilities.