Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

July 27, 2015

My Must-haves for the Retail Associate.

     Although that I wish my blog was my full-time summer job, it is currently my full-time summer "fun" job/hobby! My actual summer job is in retail. This is my third summer of working for an upscale gallery that sells handmade jewelry, art and home goods. Since I live in a very touristy area of Maine, most of the store's clientele during the warmer months is from tourists. Although this job isn't something that I would want to be doing for the rest of my life, I have enjoyed my coworkers, am lucky to have a job that's so close to my house, and I've had some wonderful customers over the past few years (and a few weird ones too... but that could be another blog post all together!).

     Most of my summer shifts are eight or eight and a half hours long, so I am at work for most of the day or evening, depending on the time of the shift. Since I've been doing this job for so long, I have it down to a science now about the types of outfits that I wear to work, snacks and lunches/dinners that I'll take with me, and other things that I stick in my bag.

     Since a lot of people work retail jobs for at least some point in their lives, I thought I would do a little "retail associate round-up," and share the items (or similar items) of what I wear or what's in my purse for work everyday!
What I Wear: My work has a slight dress code. Employees can't wear blue jeans, shorts, tank-tops without a sweater or shirt on top of them, or just anything that generally looks too casual. The dress code isn't really a problem for me since y'all know that I love to dress up!! But when I first started this job, dressing for the job could sometimes still be difficult. Even though I'm mostly just on the sales floor with customers, sometimes my boss has me doing tasks in the stock room, or I have to package something for a customer, and your clothes have the risk of getting slightly dirty. So because of that, I don't wear any of my nicer dresses (like anything Lilly) to work. But I do wear a sundress almost everyday! My favorite work dresses are plain and usually solid colored or with a simple pattern, like the two that I linked above!
     I like the wear plain dresses to work because I usually break out my fun jewelry for work days. Statement necklaces, statement earrings, bracelet stacks... it all comes out! The store that I work in sells lots of jewelry, so it's good for sales associates so be seen wearing jewelry (even though what I wear wasn't bought at our store- haha!). It is also very air-conditioned at work, and I get cold easily, so I always top of my outfit with a fun colored cardigan! I have so many cardigans. My favorite places to get cardigans at are J. Crew Factory, LOFT, Forever 21, and Talbots but honestly I have cardigans from so many places!
     Since I am on my feet for so many hours a day at work, they get sore easily and I can't wear my normal summer shoes. I have two pairs of "work shoes," both are which are from comfort shoe brand Clarks. They aren't shoes that I would normally wear or pick for their fashion value (lol), but Clarks shoes are great for long days on your feet! I have linked two pairs above.

What I Bring: Just like wearing more fun jewelry for work, sometimes I am a bit more crazy with my make-up for work as well, especially in terms of lip colors. Hey- when you're indoors behind a counter for most of the day, you gotta at least look kinda fun for the customers, right?! During the school year, my favorite lip colors for everyday are warm pinks and peaches, but at work I'm more likely to experiment with all of my bright lip colors, which can include corals, reds and fuschias! Whenever I purchase a more bold lip color, it's usually from a cheaper cosmetics line, like NYC Color or Wet N' Wild. I prefer to spend more money on more neutral lip colors!
     One thing you may or may not know about me is that I am a devoted water drinker. Other than occasionally drinking Chick Fil A French Vanilla iced coffee, and black tea on some school mornings when I'm sleepy, all that I drink is water! So of course I need to bring my H2O with me to work. I have found that many reusable water bottles don't keep water cold for very long, and also can make the water taste funky after only an hour or two. So my favorite way to bring water to work is in my Lilly Pulitzer tumbler! I fill it with cold water and lots of ice, and it usually keeps it cold for most of my shift. (I also have a monogrammed tumbler from school that I love and use as well!) You seriously need a Lilly or monogrammed tumbler if you don't already have one.
     Before leaving for work, I almost always give my hair a little extra boost with dry shampoo! Even on days when I don't curl it. There are actually two different dry shampoos that I use and love equally but for different hairstyles (I really need to do a hair products post!), but lately I've been more into my Batiste Dry Shampoo. 
     And lastly- lately I have gotten into the habit of bringing a portable iPhone charger with me and it's so useful! At the store that I work at, we aren't allowed to have phones at all when we're working, they have to stay in the stock room. So when break time comes, I'm on my phone for the whole time!! If I come to work with an already low-battery phone, then I'll be in trouble later. My portable charger was actually a conference souvenir from my internship a few months ago in Louisville, Kentucky, but I linked a portable charger above!

      I will probably not be returning to my job next summer, simply because I am hoping to have an apartment in Charlotte by then, or if not, then have a communications internship for the summer in a different US city! But I have absolutely enjoyed these past three years, and I have learned a lot through working in retail!

A little peak of the store- this is from last summer when my friend Katie brought me a macaron while at work! :-)

     Have any of you worked in retail before?

     xoxo Miss ALK


  1. You're so lucky you get to dress up!! I used to work in a sporting goods store and the dress code was very very strict: No dresses, no shorts or capris (which was hell-like in summer), no sandals or flip flops, no tank tops, etc. Basically, long pants, closed shoes, and a hideous vest. I also had to have my hair up at all times too because I was in charge of the racquet stringing machine. But oh well, I loved working there!

    Ane | Basque Prep

  2. Working in retail this summer has been.. Eye opening haha! Working at Old Navy is a bit different from where you work, but comfy shoes are a must! So many of my co-workers wear flip flips and I want to scream! How is that good for your back? I'm such a mom sometimes. I always bring water with me as well! For breaks I try to bring a book, I need to escape!
    What a great post!

  3. I'm so glad that barista dress code falls somewhere between super-nice clothes and typical vest-and-khakis uniform fare. I usually wear black jeans and a pretty black blouse from Target underneath my apron (paired with some particularly glamorous non-slip shoes). Of course, all of it gets covered in syrups and coffee and all manners of milk and cream, but at least I still get to feel a little cute!

    I certainly hope you'll have an apartment in Charlotte next summer-- I'd miss you too much!

    - Becca :)

  4. Oh retail, I had a love/hate relationship with my retail job.
    We were required to dress nice and weren't allowed jeans or anything like you mentioned unless we had a cardigan on.
    I liked feeling put together but sometimes I'd be climbing around the store in a dress and that wasn't too fun.
    Great essentials list!

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  5. I swear by Batiste dry shampoo!!! It's my absolute favorite dry shampoo that I've tried to date. I used to work retail on my breaks from college too- I never truly enjoyed it but I did enjoy the employee discount haha. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your world!


  6. These are good must haves! I work part time in retail and there are a lots of times where I run from my full time to part time job and have to shuffle a bunch of stuff around. I always have some extra snacks in my bag, a reusable water bottle (I definitely recommend a Hydroflask they stay cold forever!) some hair ties and lip balm. Oh and a nail file! You never know when a nail will get caught on something and then drive you crazy the rest of your shift.

    Southern Belle Secrets

  7. Comfy shoes are so important if you're standing up all day! I have to wear orthopaedic shoes because I have flat feet, so I do recommend Clarks for that. Portable chargers are always great to have too. My roommate recently got me a solar-powered back-up battery and I've been finding it so useful for travelling (not for work..yet. I have several electrical outlets that I can use at work!) I haven't ever worked in retail but I did work as a lifeguard and I was constantly on my feet or in the water!

    Alessandra |

  8. I should bring an iPhone charger to work. That's a great idea!

  9. I'm glad you enjoy your job. It is fun to dress up for work and retail is definitely a fun excuse to wear bright lipstick! I don't work in retail, I work in a very casual office but I still try and dress up a bit. It makes the day seem more important and exciting for me!

  10. It is so great you are able to wear mostly what you like to work! I work at a restaurant as a waitress right now during my summers and breaks from grad school...and comfy shoes are a must!! Standing on your feet for 8-9 hours is ROUGH!

  11. I love that you get to dress up for your job! When I worked retail, I had to wear a black polo, khaki pants, and tennis shoes... so glamorous ;)

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  12. I love walking in my Clarks sandals! I bought a pair that was actually super cute a few years ago, and they make comfort and cute so easy!
    Now I'm craving macaroons!


  13. Layering is so so important. It's also great to dress up because it makes work a little but more fun.

  14. I'm a fan of wearing plain dresses to work too. I like pairing them with scarves and cute blazers. Statement necklaces are also fun! I like to have fun with some different lip colors too. I'm actually a fan of purple lipstick, but I also wear a lot of red.

  15. So many great tips! I wish I had this post back when I worked in retail! I totally agree with you on the plain dresses just so you can bring out your statement jewelry. One of my favorite ways to really make a statement at work:)

    xo Ashley

  16. I wish I had this back in my retail days! A fun lip color and jewelry is so essential for jazzing up your mood. Those shifts can get tiresome, so anything to perk you up helps!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  17. How fun! Your job sounds like you'd meet lots of interesting people!

  18. So fun getting to know more about where you work, what you do and what you wear! It looks like you make the most of it and meet interesting people along the way!

    The Fashionista's Diary

  19. I've worked in retail on and off for the past 3 years (before that, I worked in the food service industry). I work at Gap Outlet by where I live when I'm home from breaks (although this summer I have a full time internship elsewhere). I think these are all really good items but I have to second the shoes! When you have an 8 hour shift on the sales floor, your feet are gonna be hurtin' at the end of the day!

    Kayla |

  20. I actually have never worked retail, but have kind of always wanted to just so I could dress up everyday! Although knowing me, I'm sure that I would get tired of that pretty quickly if I HAD to do it. Haha! I love your picks!


    Marie H.
    Progression By Design

  21. Is it weird that I've always wanted to work retail (I think its for the discounts! haha) I don't think I could stand for that long though! haha I bring a bunch of these things with me to my internship as well! I love that blue dress :)

    Annie // Annie N Belle

  22. This is a great list of things to bring. I have never worked retail (all the part time jobs I have ever had have been in an office setting). This is a great list, and I definitely agree on using something reusable like a tumbler to take water in. It works so much better.

  23. I am amazed at how you manage to squeeze so much into one day! I agree with you that sundresses are the easiest piece to throw on and automatically look put-together.

  24. These are such great pieces! I've never worked in retail but I hear from my cousins that it's a tough gig! Your list of must-haves is so amazing - I also always need water around :)

  25. Batiste is my hair's saving grace. It works SO well, and it's even better when you can find them discounted at TJ Maxx. Bless you for working retail for so long--I hated it for the two years I did while I was in high school. Never again!


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