A woman’s guide to dressing professionally

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When it comes to recruiters, the importance of first impressions cannot be understated. During the All-University Career Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday, recruiters are bound to meet hundreds of prospective employees. So the best way to be memorable is to look sharp and professional.

Since college students are not used to dressing up on a regular basis, that can be a bit difficult. However, here are some simple tips that will allow you to display your most professional look and make a great first impression.

Key women’s business-casual pieces

Tops: Collared button-ups and billowy blouses look great on any type of shape or size. If you want to step outside of the box, opt for a floral or subdued print. Stay away from anything too overwhelming though – avoid bright colors and overtly bold prints.

Blazer: A blazer is a unifying garment that keeps your whole look together. Find a blazer in black, gray or nude and make sure it fits you at the shoulder.

Cardigan: Cardigans are great alternatives in case you want to go for something less casual than a blazer, but still want to cover up. Cardigans can be layered over dresses or blouses. Stick to conservative colors to blazers like black, white, navy or gray.

Bottoms: There are two routes you can go for casual bottoms. The classic black dress pants should be your go-to for a great professional look. Alternatively, a pair of black skinny pants are also a good option. Look for a well-fitting pair that hit right below your ankles. You don’t want them to be too long and drown you out. You will probably need to try a few pairs on, but they’re worth the trouble to find the right pair.

Footwear: Flats or loafers are a great option for comfortable casual footwear. Not only do they come in different styles, but they will keep you comfortable all day long. Find a pair that fits your taste and will also have a long life-span. Avoid prints and bright colors, choose subtle colors like black and gray which will go with everything.

Key women’s business-professional pieces

Dresses: Most of these dresses are on the longer side, so you won’t have to worry about them being too short. Skirts can often be risky and most always involve wearing dreaded pantyhose. Invest in a high quality dress that will last you through several interviews instead of several that are not great quality. Sheath, wrap or draped dresses are all very form fitting and have a clean, sleek, professional look.

Blazers: Blazers are a great option to make a casual dress appear dressy. Go for one in black that is slimming with real pockets for the small essentials you might need.

Footwear: When it comes to the height of the heels, a good rule of thumb to go by is 3 inches. Closed and open-toed footwear in black and nude have the subtly and versatility to go with virtually anything. If you despise heels, flats are always a comfortable and cute choice. Moreover, always bring a pair of flats in case of emergency. Carrie Bradshaw might not have done it, but most of us “real girls” should.

General tips

Look clean: If you choose to wear makeup, make sure that it isn’t too bold (too much bronzer or foundation on your neck looks sloppy). Would you want someone to remember you for your poorly applied makeup or your charming personality and subdued makeup?

Additionally, wet hair is never professional. So take the time to properly groom yourself from head to toe (yes, your toenails and fingernails count too).

Dress for your industry: Dress for your industry seems to be the biggest tip when it comes to what you should wear. This entails researching what people in your industry wear.

For instance, if you are in the fashion industry, you’re going to be able to have more leniency when it comes to what you’re able to wear rather than an industry like engineering or education.

The bottom line: Be inspired by others who may be in a similar industry as you, find things that work for you, look neat and perceive yourself from an employer’s perspective.

Places to shop for women

H&M;: H&M; has great essential pieces like blazers, collared shirts, trousers, dresses and even blouses. Its price point won’t break a college girl’s bank.

Express: If you’re looking to spice up your business wear or really throw down some cash for pieces you’ll keep forever check out Express. Its clothing has tons of cuts and color choices for the experienced business-wear buyer.

Altuzarra for Target: Want to take some risks with bold prints and fabulous cuts, but are still looking for price conscious and quality looks? Look no further, Altuzarra for Target has great pieces for stylish business looks.

These are just a few ways you can dress well and still maintain the attire of a business professional. Use these tips to upgrade your wardrobe to a more job-friendly look.

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