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Professional Appearance

Creating a Professional Appearance for an interview, networking event, or a new job is important. Here are some useful guidelines for determining appropriate attire.

Interview Attire Guidelines for Men and Women

A two-piece matched suit is always the best and safest choice. Even if you would or could wear jeans on the job, or the work environment is outdoors and very non-suit, wearing a suit to the interview shows you take the interview seriously as a professional meeting. Dressing well is a compliment to the person(s) with whom you meet.

Navy, dark gray and black — are safe. Other color trends may come and go; avoid the extremes. Solids or very subtle weave patterns or plaids (the kind that look solid across a room) are safest. Wool, wool blends, or good quality micro fiber for women only, are generally the best fabrics in all seasons. Avoid acetate / rayon blends.

Do invest in quality that will look appropriate during your first two or three years on the job. One good quality suit is sufficient for a job search if that is all your budget allows. You can vary your shirt/blouse tie/accessories.

Everything should be clean and well pressed. Carefully inspect clothes for tags, dangling threads, etc.

*Information adapted from Virginia Tech Career Services.

Tips for Men

  • Well-groomed facial hair.
  • Always make sure your clothes are clean and pressed.
  • Remove piercing for interviews and work.
  • Wear a conservative watch.
  • Be sure to remove tags and the extra stitching from your suit.
  • Invest in a nice pair of work shoes.
  • General rule of thumb: if you aren’t sure your outfit is appropriate for the office, then don’t wear it.
  • Take cues from professionals in your field about appropriate attire.
  • Cologne should be minimal.

  • A suit, preferably in a dark color (navy, dark gray, or black)
  • Long sleeve dress shirt (yes, long sleeves even in the summer)
  • A tie (classic looking silk tie, avoid trends)
  • Black or dark brown dress shoes.
  • Match belt to your shoes
  • Dark socks to complement your suit.

  • Neat slacks or trousers
  • Button down, tucked in shirt
  • Leather casual shoes (no sneakers or sandals)
  • A jacket and tie are optional

Tips for Women

  • Keep makeup conservative and professional.
  • If you wear perfume, be conservative. Many people are sensitive to odor.
  • Your jewelry should be minimal and professional. Nothing that could create a distraction.
  • Hair should be neat and groomed.
  • Nails should be neat and well groomed.
  • Your purse should be simple and match your shoes.
  • Watch your hemlines and where your shirt falls-too much skin is not office appropriate.
  • Take cues from professionals in your field about appropriate attire.

  • A suit in a dark color. Black, charcoal, or navy are most common.
  • If you choose a suit with a skirt, watch the hemline. Your skirt should be at least knee length when standing.
  • Conservative blouse or shell under your suit jacket.
  • Closed-toe dress shoes, with a 1-1 3/4 inch heel.
  • Hose-NO RUNS! Bring an extra pair with you, just in case.
  • Minimal jewelry, perfume and makeup.

  • Skirt or pressed slacks.
  • Blouse, sweater, or twin set.
  • Low-heeled professional shoes
  • A jacket is optional.