Your first impression is the most important. The clothes that you wear communicate volumes about you as a person and potential employee. Will an employer view you as sloppy and lazy, or sharp and professional? Understanding how to present yourself is the first step in developing a successful career. Clothing is key because it is one of the simplest methods to convey professionalism and cleanliness.
Business Casual is the average day-to-day attire of an office or professional place of employment. It consists of nice pants (no jeans), skirts, dress shirts and shoes, and conservative makeup/hair/jewelry. Clean hygiene is a must, but one must avoid strong perfumes and scents.
- For Women
- Hair is clean and pulled away from the face. No extravagant styles or colors are used.
- Jewelry and makeup are kept to a minimum (including piercings); the focus is on the person.
- A dressy shirt/blazer is worn. The shirt is conservative, does not expose cleavage, and does not have distracting patterns, logos, or offensive language.
- Dress pants/a skirt are worn. This includes black, khaki, or formal pants. If a skirt is worn, it should not be higher than two inches above the knee when sitting. They are not too tight, nor too loose, but fit just right.
- Dress shoes are worn. These include heels, flats, loafers, or Oxfords.
- For Men
- Hair should be clean and well-groomed. This includes hairstyles and facial hair.
- No piercings or excessive jewelry is displayed. Presentation is conservative and modest.
- A dress shirt/blazer/vest/Polo shirt is worn. A tie is optional. Shirts must be neat, tucked into pants, and conservative. No logos, distracting patterns, or offensive logos are shown.
- Pants are worn with a belt. Sagging is strictly prohibited.
- Dress pants are worn. This includes black, khaki, or other neutral colored pants.
- Dress shoes are worn. These should be clean and fully cover the feet.
Business Formal is used for professional meetings, important interviews, and events where it is necessary to make a strong impression. This type of attire utilizes many of the same rules of Business Casual, but incorporates extra steps to create an edge.
- For Women and Men
- Hair should be clean and well-groomed. All hair should be pulled away from the face.
- Suits are the standard. If a suit is not available, then a dress shirt with a blazer (and tie, for men) is appropriate.
- Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Cover visible tattoos and remove extra piercings.
- Ensure that clothing is clean and neat. Avoid clothing that is too tight or loose and aim for clothes that fit your body type well.
- Aim for conservative over trendy.
- Women may opt for pantyhose.
- Wear dress shoes. Oxfords, loafers, flats, and heels are appropriate.
- If you must carry something, carry a simple briefcase or purse with neutral colors.
Things to Avoid
- Avoid casual clothing that is worn around friends or at home. These include, but are not limited to: sweatpants, pajamas, ripped jeans, casual/revealing clothes, worn-out clothes, dirty/holey clothing, flip-flops, slippers, and robes.
- Avoid athletic attire. These include, but are not limited to: leggings, workout shirts, muscle shirts, sneakers, and shorts.
- Avoid club attire. These include, but are not limited to: tight dresses/clothes, see-through clothing, tank tops, extremely high heels, gaudy jewelry, and miniskirts.
- Avoid flashy, non-conservative attire. These include, but are not limited to: extravagant makeup, animal prints, shiny or flashy clothes, large and distracting hair clips, and clothing designed to elicit a response.