What you choose to wear and how you present yourself in an interview, networking event or in another professional setting is most likely your first (physical) impression to the employer. What you wear may depend on the location, type of job/industry, as well as the company norms, culture and environment.
The goal here is that you feel comfortable, confident and genuine to your own style while still maintaining professionalism, and respecting the company’s dress code or policies.
Your professional look is a representation of your own personal brand, which can have an impact on your success in speaking with other professionals.
Feel free to mix and match different clothing items until you find a look that feels true to you. If you feel confident that will shine through in your conversation.
What does it mean and what is the difference? In today’s ever-evolving workforce, traditions and formalities are beginning to shift and become more relaxed and flexible in many industries.
Five years ago, you may have been encouraged to dress Business Professional most likely in a suit or button down, but now, in most fields it is acceptable to dress Business Casual even in an interview setting as many company’s begin to shift policies and to remote work.
- Tailored suit or pantsuit
- Dress shirt or blouse
- Dress socks, tights/stockings
- Dress pants, dress/skirt (knee length or longer)
- Accessories: Keep it minimal and tasteful, Tie, Belt (match with shoes), jewelry, watch, cufflinks
- Footwear: Closed-toe & scuff free, polished dress shoes, loafers or short heels
- Khakis, slacks or skirt
- Dress shirt, blouse, cardigan
- Comfortable shoes
Similar to your resume, creative industries or small start-up companies may have some flexibility in a relaxed dress code.
In the workplace setting you may notice employers wearing a variety of outfits including khakis, button-downs, jeans, T-shirts, or even hoodies.
Maybe you are interviewing for a role in a hospital setting, during the day to day role you may be in scrubs but for your interview, consider attire that is more on the business casual side, but not overly casual.
You still want to maintain a neat and professional look but you have some flexibility on skipping the full suit.
- Less is more – keep it simple
- For relaxed dress codes avoid overly casual attire such as jeans, flip flops, shorts
- Everything should fit well, not too tight or lose and feel comfortable
It is safer to overdress than underdress – consider dressing one step up from those in the workplace already.
For example, if you notice many of the employers typically wear jeans and t-shirts, consider wearing non-denim pants and a button down or tucked in shirt with a blazer, at least for the interview.
If you accept an offer you can get familiar with what others where day to day and imitate that to your own style.
Be yourself and wear what makes you feel your most comfortable and confident. The goal is to have employers or professionals focus on your strengths, experiences and skills not what you are wearing.
- Try on outfits and options ahead of time, make sure you feel comfortable and confident
- Consider bringing a professional portfolio or padfolio to hold your documents, notes, and examples of your work
- Use positive body language: Maintain eye contact and a good posture, smile, nod, and give a firm handshake
Many employers are becoming more inclusive, but if you aren’t sure of a company’s dress code or policies reach out to HR or your contact to ask for guidance.
- Feel free to stop by the Career Center or email a photo to us if you’re unsure or would like a second opinion
- When in doubt it is better to be overdressed than underdressed
- Schedule a meeting with your Career Advisor to talk about your personal interview attire