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Looking professional on a conservative budget.

As juniors and seniors prepare for their professional careers, one thought that often lingers on their minds is, "How can I afford to be professionally dressed for the interview and the job-search process on a typical collegian's low-income budget?"

Well, it is quite simple. While skirts may get longer or shorter and pants legs get wider or narrower within a single season of fashion trends, the basic jacket, skirt, slacks, white shirt, plain tie, navy pumps, and wing tips are here to stay, and at reasonable prices. Durable, classic wardrobe basics never go out of style, and that is where the budget-conscious collegian should look to make his or her "investment."

The Male Business

Brad Witzig, a spokesman for Chicago-based Attitudes, a clothing manufacturer, advises that a professional wardrobe for a male should consist of a dark gray or black suit, which is perfect for the job interview, and a long-sleeve white shirt worn with a conservative tie. A complete business ensemble of this type would cost less than $300 at his store.

"Students should not be concerned with fashion trends while building a professional wardrobe because business wear trends do not change that much," said Witzig.

The Female Business

For women, the same basic theme holds true. Conservatively designed suits in solid colors like black, brown, gray, and navy are the best choices for that basic professional wardrobe. Brightly colored suits can be distracting in the corporate world, as are "trendy" styles. Sticking to classic cuts is always safe. A basic white or off-white blouse underneath is a sure winner. No bare arms or mini-skirts, please. The skirt should be at knee length or just below. Low heels are comfortable as well as appropriate. Two-inch heels or flats can work fine depending on the style or cut of the outfit.

Professional Advice

The conventional wisdom for students who are ready to set foot into the professional arena is not to spend too much money right away. "Invest in only a couple of suits or outfits, and once a job has been landed, wait a while, and then invest wisely," notes Witzig.

Henry Clack, director of cooperative education and placement services at Texas Southern University in Houston, says, "Students need to be conservative in attitude, style, and the stores they shop in. They have to go in with the understanding of making multiple changes--one top that can go with three bottoms and one bottom that can go with three tops--nothing too flashy."

Despite any changing trends, notes Clack, "Being more conservative will fit into different work environments more easily." A thought that Clack would like to leave with students is, "Be observant, because when you have a good eye for quality and style, you can shop as effectively at K-Mart as at higher-priced stores selling top-name brands."

Fashion Feedback

Dear "Lookin' Good":

I am a 20-year-old nursing student at Medgar Evers College. I am interested in fashion shows and modeling for Black designers while I am attending school. I would especially like to work with the designers of Karl Kani (from Brooklyn) and Cross Colours or any other designers you can kindly suggest.

C.W. Brooklyn, NY

Dear C.W.:

We recommend that you write a letter and send your professional photos to the designers you would like to model for. In your letter, you should state your height, weight, size, and age range, as well as your desired modeling fees. Most designers prefer to use models 5'8" and over for runway fashion shows. Print models can be shorter, but you must photograph well.

Designers Karl Kani, Carl Jones and his partner T.J. Walker can all be reached at Cross Colours, 2164 East 25th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90058, (213) 585-0844. Good Luck.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Lookin' Good
Author:Wilson, Julia A.; Ray, Sheila
Publication:The Black Collegian
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Previous Article:Secondary education careers.
Next Article:Approaching the millennium: the challenge for African Americans in engineering.

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