Career Development Services

Dress for Success

"What am I going to wear?" We get asked this question nearly every day during the recruiting season. Basically, it's common sense. You can start by asking yourself three questions.

1.What do I already have to wear? For some of you this may be a happy discovery. You have been in jeans and t-shirts all semester and haven't ventured beyond your laundry basket. Your closet may turn up that lost pair of suit pants or that pair of pumps you forgot you bought at the end of last season. If you already have the traditional garb--conservative suit ( does not have to be three-piece), dress shirt and tie for a man, blouse and skirt (keeping the hem no more than five inches above the knee) for a woman, and appropriate shoes --you are all set. However, not all students have a suit. For a man, it is perfectly acceptable to wear a sports coat, shirt, tie and coordinated dress pants. For a woman, a conservative dress is acceptable.

2.Can I afford to update my existing interviewing wardrobe? If you can, great--go for it! A couple of suggestions, though. Take along a friend who has some business fashion sense (especially if yours is questionable or ask a salesperson to assist you in selecting interviewing clothes. It doesn't necessarily have to drain your bank account. Employers don't expect recent grads to wear expensive clothes. It is okay to be fashionable but flashiness is a mistake. There can be a fine line between the two. If you have trouble deciding, remember that a conservative purchase is the safer one. Most students don't have the disposable income to go on a shopping spree. If that is true for you, make do with what you have: a man can wear his best shirt and tie and woman can wear her nicest shirt and blouse. Keep things in perspective; it's not the clothes that sell employees to companies but people themselves.

3.With what kind of company will I be interviewing ? If it is a Fortune 500 company, obviously you should wear a traditional suit. But maybe you will be seeing a funky, upbeat software company and you heard the recruiter showed up for interviews last year in a tie-dyed shirt, sandals, and beads. Use your own discretion but we suggest you dress the way you would if you were giving an important presentation at a company or attending a business meeting. Unless you have something to show or give the interviewer other than a resume, leave backpacks, books, boots, umbrellas, overcoats, etc., in the closet in our office. (Caution: don't leave any valuables in the office where someone might take them while you are in the interview.)

                                                 Dressing for Success

 Professional

  • Clean, manicured fingernails
  • Neat hair
  • Polished shoes
  • Natural-looking make-up
  • Long-sleeved shirts if wearing a suit
  • Clean and neatly pressed clothes that fit properly

 Unprofessional

  • Baggy stockings, saggy socks
  • Perfumes or colognes that are overpowering
  • Boots
  • Costume jewelry
  • Hair jewelry (if functional, it's okay)
  • For man, gold medallions, charms For woman, low necklines, high hemlines.