10 Smart Closet Essentials for Business School

This post was most recently updated on June 20th, 2019

After I was admitted, I scoured for photos online of MBA students to get a sense of just the right B-school look.

The full-time students seem to still be dressing in college sweatshirts- so no help there. I only managed to find a few Ivy Catalog style pics that inspired me. I wish someone had a comprehensive list of Smart Closet Staples for Business School!

For Orientation night, I wore black ankle skinnies, wedge slingbacks, blush pink blouse paired with a gray cardigan. I chose wisely. Except that I couldn’t predict having to dash across campus in the rain from the minimal parking area to the building.

Most students in my cohort dress business casual smart.

When we give a presentation, we do dress it up: I picked a black and white tweed style pencil skirt with black tights and black booties, cranberry blouse and black open blazer with leather edging.

But we don’t need to suit up just yet…only later for the capstone.

Here are 10 Smart Closet Essentials for Women to get you ready for your first Business School course:


1. Black Skinny Ankle pants

2. White button-down blouse

3. Blush Pink or White Short-Sleeved top

4. Smart Casual Blazer

5. Black or Nude Heels

6. Neutral Cardigan

7. Shift Dress

8. Pencil Skirt

9. Dark-wash skinny jeans

10. Black booties


Tbh, I’ve skipped the heels so far because I think they will make more sense for dressier occasions. And it’s fall here in Minneapolis, so that means we just went from sandals to boots. I also am waiting for the perfect time for the dress.

Related: 3 Tips If You’re A Mom Thinking About an MBA

Let’s avoid certain looks that aren’t Business Smart Casual.

  • Avoid plunging necklines
  • Too-tight, unflattering pieces
  • Leggings, UNLESS they are Work style NOT yoga and you add coverage.
  • Sky-high platform heels

I mentionĀ smart a lot…because it requires some thought. You may feel more comfortable in pants vs. skirts and a lovely pair of skinny jeans gives the right impression. As time goes on you can relax your look a bit.

It seems that the men have it easier, they can wear a dress shirt and pants anytime. Women have more creative touches.

I’ve definitely transformed at work as a result. It’s easy to get comfortable after a decade, and I’m in IT, so…no facetime with clients. But the whole MBA experience has made me up my game, and give EP – Executive Presence.

So why does it matter? You think, why can’t I just be comfortable.

Maybe you won’t be judged, but maybe you will. Do you really want to take the chance? We do a lot of group projects, and you want to present your best so that your cohort wants to work with you.

And after finally being done with maternity options, nursing/pumping-friendly wear, and who-even-cares-it’s-going-to-get-spit-on duds, it’s so freeing to rediscover my own fashion again!

What’s your favorite work-to-school fashion?

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