Connecting the dots will lead first-time workers away from fashion blunders. You've received your college diploma, accepted a job offer in corporate America and begun to take your first tentative steps toward independence.

As you transition from student to professional, your wardrobe should do the same. Lived-in jeans, slouchy sweats, shoulder-baring camisoles and cleavage-enhancing minidresses may have been standard gear on campus, but they're fashion don'ts for the office.

In short, it's time for clothes that look less Banana Republic and more Brooks Brothers.

And you don't have to spend a fortune to get started right.

"Don't spend your entire savings on a new wardrobe before you experience the fashion culture in the office," suggests Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor at large for Glamour magazine.

Sound advice for both women and men. If everyone is wearing suits, for example, that's a strong sign that you should dress similarly.

And if you aim to climb the corporate ladder, Schwartz adds, it's a good idea to dress like the company's highest-ranking executive of your gender.

"You should never dress for the job you have. You should always dress for the job you want. Always look professional, even if you're working in the stockroom or lowest-level job. Your boss might want you to sit in a meeting and take notes, but you won't be invited if you always look like a bum. Look like you're ready for success."

Every man should own 11 classic looks, according to editors at Details men's magazine. In "Men's Style Manual," they suggest these classic investments: a single-breasted navy-blue suit, a navy blazer, a gray suit, a pair each of black and brown lace-up shoes, two white shirts, a blue shirt, two polo shirts, an ordinary black belt and a simple dark-colored tie.

"Classics are classic for a reason," editor Daniel Peres said. "Men's style has changed little over the past 100 years. You shouldn't be the person who tries to break the mold."

Even on casual days, a blazer and loafers can dress up jeans or khakis and still help you look polished and properly attired.

"Dressing appropriately in the office is a sign of respect," style experts Kim Johnson Gross and Jeff Stone wrote in "Dress Smart Men: Wardrobes That Win in the New Workplace."

"It tells your co-workers and superiors that you are ready for business every single day."

Jenny Levin sympathizes with women who stand amid racks and piles of clothes every morning and feel as if they have nothing to wear to work.

"There is a way out of this clothes quagmire, and a properly stocked closet, filled with all the right basics, is the place to start," she wrote in her book "Harper's Bazaar Great Style: Best Ways to Update Your Look."

She said five staples that should be the foundation of every woman's wardrobe are a dark, lean suit, preferably black; a simple and refined pencil or A-line skirt; a crisp white shirt; a quality pair of jeans, preferably a straight-leg cut in a dark wash; and a black dress.

Nearly every fashion and style expert has written a book, and most contain advice about how professional men and women should dress for the office. Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, hosts of TLC's "What Not to Wear," list 28 must-haves for women, among them a black pantsuit, a softer neutral suit with slacks or a skirt, cotton button-front shirts, blazers and a black dress.