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Dressing for Success

What is Professional Dress?

This question usually brings up a lot of discussion and a lot of different ideas about what is or is not professional dress. Unfortunately, there is no one simple way to describe, for everyone, what that is. What is appropriate for one industry, profession or person may not be for another. However, there are some general guidelines to use in determining what you should wear so that you are seen as a professional in your field and so that you make a good first impression.

The following guidelines should help you to answer this question.

Business Dress

For Women   

  • A suit or tailored dress in conservative colors (black, gray, navy, brown, beige, or burgundy). Your skirt length should be appropriate for sitting, 2 to 3 inches above the knee.
  • Tailored blouse, preferably a soft color.
  • Tailored pantsuits are acceptable.
  • Closed toe shoes.
  • Pantyhose that match or compliment your suit.
  • Conservative jewelry.
  • Conservative hairstyle that does not distract from your face.
  • Medium or small handbag that match or compliment your suit.

For Men

  • Conservative, well-fitting two piece business suit.  Colors: gray, black, or navy.  Refrain from wearing a sports coat and a pair of pants.
  • Long sleeved shirt-white or blue are always safe.  Be sure that it is neatly pressed.
  • Dark socks that match or complement the suit.
  • Conservative tie that matches or complements the suit and shirt.
  • Dark dress shoes.
  • Conservative hairstyle and neatly trimmed facial hair.

Business Casual

For Women

  • A twin set in neutral colors, cotton buttoned down shirts in solids and stripes, mix matched knit separates, wool turtlenecks, and or tailored blouses.
  • Skirt or slacks in a neutral color.
  • A lightweight blazer (optional).
  • A tailored pantsuit.
  • A dress with sleeves.
  • Casual heels or flats

For Men

  • Dress slacks or khakis.
  • High quality crewneck or turtleneck sweaters.
  • Long-sleeved sport shirts.
  • A black or navy blazer or sports coat (optional)
  • A dress leather belt.
  • Loafers or other shoes that bridge the gap between casual and dress.

Fashion Mistakes

  • Busy patterns, bold colors, and dramatic prints.
  • Low cut necklines and tank tops.
  • Earrings or ponytails for men.
  • Tongue and nose rings for both men and women.
  • Extremely tight or baggy clothing.
  • Too short skirts.
  • Strong perfume, cologne, or after-shave.
  • Excessively long fingernails, trendy and or bold nail polish
  • Clunky, heavy, thick-soled shoes.