Dress for Success


First impressions last forever. Remember that at your job/internship interview you want to look your absolute best. The clothing you wear to your interview should make you look like you fit in at your prospective employer.  Your attire also indicates your interest in a job as well as your level of professionalism. Remember the interviewer is going to assume that this is the most professional you will ever look. Make sure you live up to his or her assumption. Some industries allow a more relaxed form of interview attire, while others are more formal. It is your responsibility to know the industry and dress accordingly. If in doubt, check with the employer, do some on-line research, or contact someone you know who works for this organization.

Basic Principles

  • Presentation counts.
  • Apparel should fit well and remain in place.
  • Don’t overlook the details, look for hanging threads, broken buttons, tags on new items, etc.
  • Dress as you want to be seen: seriously, professional & upward bound.
  • Casual doesn’t mean sloppy.



Suit: A conservative well-pressed black, grey, or navy two-piece suit with sleeves that extend to the hand are common. In most cases pants should match the jacket. Suit jackets have tacking on the back and sleeves before purchasing. Remember to remove these after your purchase. Tags or labels on the outside of sleeves are meant to be removed, so inspect your new suit carefully.

Shirt: A pressed, long sleeved, button down shirt in a solid color of your choice will work in any season. Avoid bright colors that may distract from the interview.

Ties: Select a few good quality ties in which you can mix and match with your dress shirt(s). Steer clear from characters or bold designs.

Shoes: A basic black or brown shoe is best but make sure they are well polished and coordinate with your suit.

Accessories: Coordinate your socks with your suit and shoes. Always avoid white socks with your dark suit. Belts should also match your suit or shoes. If wearing a watch, make sure it is conservative. Remove necklaces and earrings for an interview. Portfolios should look professional and contain your extras, such as resumes, cover letters, and references. If you smoke leave those in your back pack or vehicle

Grooming: Keep your hair neat, this includes facial hair. Nails should be clean and short. Avoid strong cologne or aftershave and be sure to wear a non-fragrant deodorant.

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Suit: A conservative pressed (black, navy, gray, brown) pant or skirt suit is best. Remember that the length must be to the knees. Make sure the suit is not too tight to sit down comfortably and not too loose. Many popular women’s stores and magazines are selling fashionable suits that are fitted, include low cut blouses, and skirt lengths that are short, or lengthy heels; however, fashionable doesn’t always equal appropriate for the traditional interview. If you want to express yourself, simply add a colored shirt under the jacket, but avoid bright colored suits.

Blouse: Your blouse should look neat, pressed, and clean whether a traditional button-down or a simple round neckline. Avoid shirts that can be interpreted as revealing or are better suited for a night-club.

Shoes: Shoe styles change frequently but regardless of style, avoid flashy shoes such as stilettos or platforms. Heels are not required, although popular. Make sure they are clean and presentable.

Hoisery: Keep it simple! Patterns are unnecessary and can be distracting. They snag so keep an extra pair in your bag, briefcase, or vehicle.

Accessories/Grooming: When it comes to a bag or purse, small and simple is safe, and color should coordinate with your wardrobe. Avoid long earrings and bright lipstick, which will only detract from your answers. Keep your make-up simple. Don’t paint your face. Clean your finger nails, iron your shirt, and polish.

Business Casual


Slacks: Suit pants, Dockers, or khakis are typical.

Shirt: Typically includes a button-front dress shirt or polo shirt.

Shoes: The traditional black or brown leather shoe is acceptable, but be sure to coordinate with your shirt and slacks.

Accessories/Grooming: Keep things simple and tasteful. You may be able to reincorporate jewelry, but avoid the extreme.

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Slacks: Black, khaki, dark dress pants or other classic colors are typical, but avoid patterns.

Blouse: Wear a well-pressed dress shirt or blouse. You can choose the traditional button-front or something less formal, but avoid anything revealing. A sweater-set is also appropriate.

Shoes: Coordinate shoes with your slacks or blouse. Stilettos and platforms are never appropriate.

Accessories/Grooming: Keep things simple and tasteful.

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On a Limited Budget

  • Don’t shop at the last minute, so to avoid spending excessive amounts because you “need something now”.
  • Purchase clothing that can be used in multiple settings, well made classic pieces can go from professional to business casual.
  • Select neutral clothing such as a pair of black dress pants that can be worn with a suit jacket or a variety of different dress shirts and ties.
  • Consider investing in season-less fabrics that drape and travel well. Wool is not as versatile as a blend of cotton and rayon.
  • If a woman, purchase a three piece suit so you can alternate between a skirt and pants suit as desired.
  • Create visual variety be interchanging different ties, belts, shoes, earrings, necklaces, or scarves.
  • Avoid trendy garments that cost more or have short term life span due to trend changes.
  • You can wear your “interview” suit more than once because you will likely only see that particular recruiter only once.


Business Casual

On a Budget