Every work environment has its own unique expectations when it comes to attire. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to attire in the workplace, the tips below and our more comprehensive Dressing for Success Guide outline some basic suggestions.
A quick image search for business attire or business casual attire will assist you in finding your own style for work. The career counselors in the CCE are also available to offer “fashion advice” for your interview!
Business professional is considered the most formal attire for interviewing. Standards vary widely from one field to another, but the following are typically appropriate pieces to incorporate into your outfit.
- Suit: Pant or skirt suit in black, gray, navy blue, or other subdued color. You will get the most wear out of a classic look that complements your body type; trendy styles will quickly become outdated.
- Shirt/Tie: Under your suit jacket wear a collared, ironed dress shirt or blouse in a color complementary to your suit. Colors like white, light blue, and cream are the most versatile for pairing with your other garments. Tank tops and low-cut shirts/blouses are inappropriate for an interview. Save the extra buttons in case you lose one. Ties are an essential part of business professional attire. Choose ties in solid colors or subdued patterns that complement the color of your shirt.
- Leg Wear/Socks: Socks should be a matching pair in a color one shade darker than your suit. If you wear a skirt, be sure to pair it with nylon stockings even in warm weather. They should complement your skin color.
- Overcoat: Consider investing in an all-weather ¾- or full-length wool coat for use in autumn and winter. A tan or black trench coat will be useful for mild or rainy days in spring and summer.
- Shoes: Choose black or brown leather dress shoes or a classic pair of pumps in black, brown, navy blue, or taupe. Avoid extreme styles, i.e. excessively pointed or square-toed shoes, or shoes with unusually thick soles or high heels. Shoes should be polished and in good repair. Do not wear brown shoes with a black suit. Be sure you are comfortable walking in whatever heel height you choose.
- Belt: Your belt should be leather and should match your shoes. Cloth belts should not be worn with suits.
Business casual is a less formal style for interviewing. It is neatly put-together, yet relaxed. Standards vary widely from one field to another, but the following are typically appropriate pieces to incorporate into your outfit.
- Slacks or Skirt: Wool, gabardine, khaki, or corduroy slacks. Skirts/dresses should fall to the knee while standing. Despite being slightly more casual, slacks and skirts must still be crisp and wrinkle-free.
- Shirt: Collared shirts in solid colors or tasteful patterns. You may keep the collar open under a sport coat, blazer, or sweater.
- Sport Coat or Blazer: In some cases you may want to wear a seasonally appropriate sport coat or blazer. Consider corduroy, cashmere, cotton, linen, or wool gabardine fabric.
- Sweater: Sweaters should be in good condition (i.e. no pilling or loose threads) and can be worn alone or layered over a dress shirt. A tie is optional.
- Shoes: See above. Appropriate and coordinated flats are an alternative to pumps in a business casual setting. Accessories The most important thing to be said about accessories is that less is more.
- Jewelry: Keep it simple. Use gold and silver colors and avoid extremes of style. No more than two rings per hand. No ankle bracelets. Find a simple watch in a nonathletic style; leather watchbands should match your belt and shoes.
- Belt: Wear a belt if your slacks or skirt have belt loops. Belts should be coordinated with the color of your shoes.
Keep accessories simple, make your hygiene a priority, and take care of your clothes. If you have any questions or concerns about what to wear for a particular interview or situation, be sure to schedule an appointment with a career counselor.
Current students who need assistance with purchasing interview attire may apply for a Career Development Grant.