Guide to Professional Dress

Dress for Success - Appearance Matters!

The Career Services office recommends a conservative, professional approach to dress for an interview. While you might not agree with the following, all are considerations for being screened out of a job interview due to appearance, depending on the organization, your career field, and the perspective of the person interviewing you. When in doubt, be conservative, be professional, and be aware that you are selling a total package. 

Recommendations for Men

  • Dark suits - navy and charcoal gray are best
    • Properly fitted, preferably wool or wool blend
    • Your pant should touch the top of your shoe
    • Suit should be buttoned when standing, unbutted when sitting
    • Single-breasted suits are recommended versus double-breasted
  • Dark dress shoes - black, brown, or corodvan, polished and buffed (no loafers)
  • Dark dress socks (absolutely no gym socks)
  • Conservative neck tie
    • Avoid bright colors or loud patterns
    • Tie your tie to fall to the middle of your belt
  • Long-sleeved shirt, even in warm weather
    • White, cream, and light blue are all good choices
    • Pointed collars project a more professional image than button downs, but either is acceptable
    • Always wear an undershirt
  • Good leather belt that matches shoe color (shows your attention to detail)
  • No earrings or other jewelry (wedding or class rings, cufflinks, neutral tie tacks are permitted)
  • Well-groomed facial hair
  • No long side burns or long hair
  • Nails - trim and clean
  • If you have to ask, the answer is probably no

Recommendations for Women

  • Dark coordinated suits, properly fitted - not too tight or too loose
  • Skirt suits are still recommended for conservative organizations
  • Skirt length no more than one inch above the knee
  • Coordinating dress blouse - no plunging necklines; no sleeveless tops
  • Polished matching dress shoes with moderate heel
    • No open toe/heeled shoes
    • Shoe color should be darker than your suit
  • Neutral colored nylons (no runs)
  • Hair past shoulder length pulled away from face
  • Minimal conservative classic jewelry
    • No flashy, dangling earrings
    • No more than one pair of earrings, one in the center of each ear
  • Natural looking makeup
  • Clear or conservatively colored nail polish - no chipped polish; no nails that are too long
  • If you have to ask, the answer is probably no

Recommendations for All

  • Dress watch
  • Carry a nice pen (This speaks volumes about your understanding of quality)
  • Carry a briefcase or good quality bag
    • Women should avoid carrying a purse to an interview
    • Turn off your cell phone
  • Fresh breath
  • Freshly bathed/showered
    • No body odor - use deodorant
    • No cigerette smoke - it lingers
  • Freshly pressed clothing, free of lint, pet hair, etc.

Potential Career Killers

  • Heavy cologne/perfume
  • Visible tattoos
  • Visible body piercing(s)
  • Unnatural hair color (purple, green, orange, etc.)
  • Overstuffed briefcase, bag, or pockets
  • Scuffed shoes
  • Loose or missing buttons
  • Clothing that is wrinkled, too tight, or too big