Chasing Generation Y

An article in today's Wall Street Journal asks, "Now that the oldest members of Generation Y are in their 20s and completing college or starting their first jobs, who is going to dress them?" That means you.

Retailers like Metropark, Jimmy'Z, and Ruehl No. 925 think they have the answer. They are giving a lot of thought to "where all these folks are going to go when they get tired of shopping in teenage land" and "how to get them to pay higher prices than they are used to," according to the CEO of Metropark. Because yours is such a large demographic, they risk losing market share if they don't follow you as you get older. Their conclusion? Allow you to dress like your influences -- Hollywood and reality TV celebrities, according to them -- by offering you looks like embellished demin and blazers with graphics on the back. (Although that Gothic-font, concert-style t-shirt on the current Metropark homepage is already looking a bit passé, if I do say so myself...)

My advice is to save those outfits for your social and play time, not your work life (unless your work life requires hip, trendy, non-desk-job clothing). One way to tell whether you can get away with your hip casual clothes? Look at what your boss is wearing. If she's coming to work in embellished denim or he's running a meeting in a blazer with graphics on the back, then you have a green light to dress in kind. If not, your boss will think twice about whether you're worth grooming for advancement.