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How to Dress for Success

Dress for the Job You Want……Not the Job You Have

You never have a second chance to make a first impression. Whether you’re doing a mock or real interview or visiting a company’s information table at a job fair, you want to make a strong first impression. When you begin the interview process and ultimately land a full-time job, your wardrobe will need to reflect your new level of professionalism.

When you begin searching for a full-time job or professional internship, invest in one or two comfortable, attractive suits you can wear to all your interviews. Once you secure a job, slowly add clothes to your wardrobe that reflect your office’s business environment. You can save money by shopping the off-season sales and buying shirts, slacks, skirts, and jackets that you can mix and match. Stores that have professional attire and sales throughout the year include Macy’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney’s, Ann Taylor, Talbots, and Jos H. Banks.


  • Business suit in a conservative color such as black, navy, gray, or brown. Avoid busy patterns or bright colors. A light pinstripe is acceptable.
  • Tie with conservative pattern and color to match the suit.
  • White shirts with sleeves that extend one-quarter inch beyond the suit jacket.
  • Dress socks in a color that complements the suit (not white athletic socks!)
  • Leather lace up shoes, recently shined, in a color that complements the suit.
  • Shave or trim beard for a neat appearance.
  • Remove noticeable piercings that may cause interviewer to judge you unfairly.
  • Limit jewelry to a watch and wedding ring.


  • Pants or skirt suits. Skirt hem should be no shorter than the knee and no longer than just below the knee.
  • Best suit colors are gray, medium to dark blue, burgundy, or black. Conservative and subtle checks and plaids are also acceptable.
  • Choose a classic suit that fits well. Too short and too tight is not acceptable.
  • Always wear skin-colored hose. Knee highs are great for pants suits.
  • Wear classic, closed-toed pumps and a mid-height heel with little or no decoration.
  • Wear makeup but style should be light or neutral.
  • Limit jewelry to a watch, wedding ring, small earrings, and a simple necklace.
  • Hairstyles should be classic and not distracting to the interviewer.
  • Carry a purse or a briefcase, but not both.
  • A professional wardrobe requires that you spend the extra money on supportive bras, camisoles, and slips.