Dress to impress: why it’s important in business world

Daniella Bellafiore

Mingling in the professional world is like playing a part; it’s imperative to understand your role and dress appropriately. Most seniors are well aware of the formal attire that is essential for the office. However, the intermediary attire between formal and informal, dubbed “business casual” remains a mystery to some. Business casual is a contradictory description for proper attire, since acceptable dress for a casual atmosphere differs significantly from that of a business environment. From career fairs to information sessions, employers expect those attending to understand the required apparel. Making a good impression is almost as significant as a résumé, so that it’s important for students to be aware of the professional standards of dress. Abiding by a fashion code may seem a tad Beverly Hills, but in reality falling victim to “fashion don’ts” could impede your success in the career search. More important than merely keeping up with the latest trends, you should take care that your wardrobe includes business casual attire. This includes: pants or slacks, tailored long or knee-length skirts, tailored sweaters, open collared shirts, and sportcoats or jackets. For suitable footwear, women should wear any closed-toe shoe, while men should wear polished leather dress shoes. If the function is taking place in an outdoors or warm environment, polo shirts are also acceptable. When dressing business casual, students should avoid blue jeans, short skirts, sheer or low-cut blouses, tight sweaters, tank tops, T-shirts and athletic clothing. In addition, sneakers, flip-flops and strappy-sandals are inappropriate. To maintain a professional appearance, shoulders and feet should always be covered. Because this is basic knowledge amongst employers, students can find themselves in an embarrassing situation if dressed unsuitably. Business casual covers a wide variety of choices, so that there is some room for discrepancy. When in doubt, always choose the more formal, conservative outfit. Even if people are somewhat overdressed, employers will perceive it as taking the job and future career seriously. However, dressing too casual most definitely will be judged negatively. First impressions may not mean everything, but they are undeniably important, especially in business. Keep in mind that business casual is appropriate mostly for pre-recruiting activities, such as receptions, career fairs and information sessions. For a job interview, it is always best to dress in a suit. If you are in doubt of what is the correct attire for a business-related event, ask either Career Services or someone from the profession.