Prepare to Impress

Business attire while presenting a design portfolio to an industry professionals.

Making the Right First Impression

Dressing neatly and professionally can make all the difference in how you are viewed in an interview situation, while completing an internship or participating in an on-campus event such as a job fair, formal presentations of student work or panel discussions with industry experts. It also can boost your confidence and help others take you more seriously.

Tips to Dressing Well

  1. Buy at least one dark-colored business suit. Darker colors are more authoritative and make you look older.
  2. Add to your wardrobe with simple shirts and blouses and pants and skirts that can be worn as business casual attire with or without a jacket.
  3. Make sure your clothing fits well. Tight or low-cut blouses, tight, hip-hugging pants and short skirts all send a decidedly unprofessional message.
  4. Make sure shoes, hosiery and belts coordinate with your clothing. Black does not go well with brown or navy blue.
  5. Accessorize sparingly.
    • Less is more for both makeup and jewelry
    • Use cologne/perfume sparingly or not at all.
  6. Hang up your clothing and put away your shoes. You will save time and money on dry-cleaning and ironing.
  7. Wear appropriate underwear and make sure it can’t be seen.
  8. Make sure your hair is always cut or styled in a way that makes you look neat and
    professional.
  9. If you have a pierced tongue or nose, remove your rings or studs. If you have a tattoo,
    make sure it’s covered if possible.

    • Better safe than sorry. You can assert your individuality after you have established yourself on the job.
  10. Add one final accessory — a well-mannered, positive attitude.

Advice from Employers

Carolyn Wilke, university relations lead at Aetna Inc. in Hartford, CT, says:

  • “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you’re in. Look at what senior management is wearing.”
  • “Looking great isn’t just about the clothes you wear; it’s about your total image”

Marianne Green, assistant director of Career Services at the University of Delaware, says:

  • “Start out by wearing a suit. It’s better to err on the conservative side. When you’re just starting out, you’ve got to hold on to your dignity and your authority for dear life. One of the ways to do that is by how you dress.”
  • “Even if the company culture screams ‘casual,’ make sure you’re always neat.”
  • “You’ll meet many new people in your first weeks on the job, and their first impression may well shape their view of you for years to come.”
  • “You want people to remember what you do and say, not what you wear.”
  • “Study a little bit of etiquette.”

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers, Job Choices: For Business & Liberal Arts Students, 2007