Dress to impress: appropriate professional attire


By Shelby Brunk and Andy Rao

When it comes to making an impression at this semester’s All University Career Fair, one of the most important things to remember is to look sharp — dressing to impress may make or break your career fair experience.

An on-campus resource, Career and Employment Services provides students with information about appropriate career fair attire, available on their website, in addition to information concerning career planning, jobs and internships. 

For Women

There are many regulations to maintaining a professional appearance, including limitations on accessories and makeup. 

Dressing in a clean, professional manner is the basis of a good first impression. If the goal is to appear business casual, a jacket in the form of a blazer or suit jacket will be appropriate.  

Dress slacks or khakis are acceptable and should be conservative in terms of length and fitting. Make sure that clothes are not tight fitting and complement your body type in order to make a good first impression. 

Skirts are appropriate as long as they are knee length or longer and are not too tight. Avoid high slits and choose a skirt in colors of black, gray or charcoal for a more fashion-savvy, professional look and attitude. 

A blouse, sweater, knit cardigan or a suit jacket makes for a modest look that will complement the skirt or dress pant well. Tops should be conservative and should not display cleavage. Dress shoes play an important role in pulling an outfit together as well as being comfortable. 

Avoid open-toed shoes, sandals, stilettos or platforms that will distract from the overall look of your outfit. Low heels at 1-2 inches high or flats are acceptable. Complementing this look with neutral hosiery or trouser socks will pull the look together in its entirety. 

Neutral colors such as a black, gray, brown or navy with complementing blouses of light color make for an overall professional look. 

Overall, remember that it is important to reflect your personality when talking to potential bosses or co-workers.

For Men

When it comes to dressing sharp, men should stick to traditional and conservative options. 

Business professional for men means suit and tie; having all components of the outfit will complete the look.

Dress shirts should be clean, neatly pressed and should also have a starched collar. Though there are a number of options, the most professional looking dress shirts are those with wing-tip collars, which are shirts with wider collars to allow for a more triangular tie knot. Generally, shirts should be lighter colors such as white or light blue.

Ties should be tied in a double windsor knot and should be worn at just above the waist. Their design should also be limited to solid, striped or paisley; other traditional designs are also acceptable.

Dress slacks should be worn to fit body type and should not be overly baggy or tight. A belt with a simple buckle is also a must; ensure that the color of the belt matches the color of the shoes.

Shoes should also be properly cared for and shined. The most appropriate shoes are square tip and rounded tip shoes and are usually either black or brown.

The suit jacket is the last essential component of a men’s professional wardrobe. The jacket should be conservative in color; black, dark gray, navy blue and dark brown are common jacket colors. Never button the bottom button; this is a common norm that gets broken frequently.

Limit any other accessories. Do not wear excessive jewelry, and apply body spray or cologne sparsely.

Last but not least, make sure that you are well-groomed and take care of hygiene. Men with facial hair should make sure that it is well-trimmed and clean.

The bottom line is maintain professionalism and wear traditionally accepted clothing and accessories.

Shelby Brunk is a sophomore in journalism and secondary education. Andy Rao is a junior in finance and accounting. Please send comments to news@kstatecollegian.com.