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Dress to Impress: Fashion Advice for Young Professionals

Grace A. Crane, C'20
Career Center Intern

The way you dress and present yourself to others plays a major role in your professional career. If dressing for an interview or job is a source of anxiety for you, read on for some tips to get started on the perfect professional wardrobe.

Know the office environment

Be aware of your office’s environment and dress code expectations. What you wear and how you present yourself matters, especially when you begin a new position. Some companies require employees to wear business professional attire at all times, while others allow you to dress in business casual. If you are ever unsure of what to wear, always opt for a more professional look. It is better to be overdressed for an occasion than underdressed. For an interview, always go business professional. Even if the company allows employees to wear business casual, you should put your best foot forward and make the greatest impression possible.

Invest in wardrobe staples

I suggest you buy at least a few quality staple pieces for a professional wardrobe. These are absolutely essential for interviews and most corporate positions. Suits can be expensive, but it is completely worth it to invest in at least one or two high-quality suits. Always have a dark colored blazer and matching pants or skirts in either black, navy or gray; these are essential for professional attire and each piece can be used separately or in combination when dressing in business casual.

Get your suit tailored

This is perhaps one of the most important tips many young professionals overlook. You may have the perfect suit, but it won’t look right if it doesn't’t fit properly. I highly recommend you get your pants tailored. Not only does this make you appear more put together, but you will also look much better with clothes that truly fit your body. Simple suit alterations are relatively inexpensive and can make you look like you spent hundreds on your outfit.

Don’t be super trendy

Another bit of advice I have for young professionals is to avoid major fashion trends when dressing for work. Unless you’re working in fashion or another creative industry, avoid dressing too flashy or trendy; in a professional environment, you should wear the clothes – the clothes shouldn't’t wear you. You can still dress age appropriate and stay current with business fashion trends, just be mindful to stay conservative and modest.

Don’t over-accessorize

Again, it is better to play it safe when it comes to dressing well in a professional office. Accessories are allowed and, when used effectively, can demonstrate your tastes and personality. Be careful, though, not to overdo it. Do not wear hats, multiple rings or facial jewelry in the office; do not dye your hair unnatural colors. Minimal jewelry, such as stud earrings or a simple necklace, is acceptable in the workplace. With makeup, keep it simple and modest. Avoid wearing brightly-colored, glittery eye shadow or dramatic false lashes. If you like to paint your nails, make sure they are painted in a nude color or clear polish.

In general, when dressing for a job or interview, keep your attire modest and conservative so you look as polished and professional as possible.

If you would like more information on professional attire, or on your job search in general, please utilize our career services. During this time, we are now available online with virtual walk-in hours from 11a.m. - 1p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you would like to meet with one of our helpful career counselors, complete the Career Counselor Request form to request an appointment via phone or Zoom. We look forward to working with you!

Grace A. Crane, C'20
Career Center Intern