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Interview Appropriate Professional Attire

Dress for Success

Appropriate professional attire for the job.

You've done your homework. You've updated your resume. Now you aren't sure what you should wear to a job fair or an upcoming interview. Here are some guidelines to help you make a great first impression.

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Buttoning a blazer over a button-down shirt and tie

What to wear to an interview

While cliché, the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” couldn’t ring more true when you're meeting potential employers. But that doesn't mean you should skip an interview or other networking event just because you don't know what to wear. Here are a few tips and resources to help you dress appropriately:

Video: Dress for Success

It's a well-known fact that first impressions go a long way. When it comes to your chosen attire, your look could make the difference in landing the interview, the job, or even a promotion down the road. We show you how to build the perfect outfit for both Business Formal and Business Casual occasions as well as tell you when to wear each one!

Dress for Success Video

Business Professional

Business professional is the style of attire we recommend if you’re participating in an interview or attending a professional networking event. Being too dressed up is often better than being dressed down! By taking a few simple attire tips, you can make certain employers view you as professional and ready to join the workforce.

Attire Business Formal Recommendation
Suit
  • Choose a conservative 2-piece suit that has matching pieces, the same color and fabric type.
  • Opt for darker colors such as black, blue and gray.
Bottoms
  • If you wear a skirt, keep the length conservative. Knee-length is generally acceptable.
  • Pant length: Make sure your socks are not showing when you are standing.
Shirt
  • Select a conservative shirt in a more neutral color.
  • Avoid busy or bright patterns or sheer (see-through) fabrics.
  • If the shirt is buttoned, button the collar and make sure the shirt cuffs extend past the sleeves on your jacket.
Overall
  • Attire should fit well—not too small or too big.
  • It should be comfortable when you stand, sit and walk.
  • Be clean and free of wrinkles, tags, lint.
  • Do not reveal any cleavage, midriff or undergarments (i.e. bra-straps).

Video: Professional Dress

The way you dress and present yourself for a job interview can make or break landing the job. Fashion experts from a major retailer share best practices and common misconceptions for attire, accessories, and hygiene.

Professional Dress Video

Business Casual

Business casual is what you'd wear for daily work attire – as the name implies, it’s more laid back.

Attire Business Casual Recommendation
Bottoms
  • Nice pants, slacks or skirts can be worn with appropriate top or you may wear a conservative dress.
  • Skirt or dress length should still be conservative. Knee-length is generally acceptable.
  • Dress pants or skirts should still be a conservative color (i.e. black, gray, brown).
  • Leggings and jeans are not acceptable.
Jacket
  • In this situation, the fabric of the jacket and pants do not need to be the same if you choose to wear a jacket or sport coat.
Tops
  • Tops might include a button down shirt, blouse, or sweater. Blouses or button-up shirts will be tucked in and wrinkle-free.

Video: Business Casual

Business casual is a less formal style of attire for the workplace. Learn the do’s and don’ts of business casual dress from fashion experts.

Business Casual Video

Accessories

Bling is fine if you are applying for a position as a DJ, not so fine if you are applying for a professional position.

Accessory Recommendation
Shoes
  • Wear dark or neutral colored shoes that are closed toe and polished.
  • If you wear heels, opt for a pump-style shoe with heels less than 3" in height. A good guidelines for heels - how well do you walk in them? Some interviews may include a networking session or site tour, so plan appropriate footwear.
  • Flip flops, sandals and athletic shoes are NOT acceptable.
Socks
  • Socks should match your pants.
  • If you wear a skirt or dress, wear a pair of skin-tone pantyhose.
Belt
  • If you wear a belt, it should match your shoes.
Ties & Scarfs
  • If you wear a tie or scarf, keep the pattern and color conservative.
  • No flashy designs or colors which draw attention.
Jewelry
  • Wear minimal jewelry.
Tattoos & Piercings
  • If you have tattoos or body piercings, consider the policies of the company with whom you are interviewing. Does it fit with their culture/standards?
Cell Phone
  • Your cell phone is not considered an accessory. Leave it in your vehicle.
  • If you must have it with you during the interview, be sure it is turned off to avoid any distractions.

 

Grooming

You want to project an image that you take care of your self. Be tidy and professional. You are your business card.

Grooming Recommendation
Hair
  • Hair is clean away from your face.
  • Facial hair is trimmed and well-groomed.
Make Up
  • Keep make up minimal and natural looking.
Scents
  • Avoid strong perfumes, after shave or cologne.
Fingernails
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails.
  • No pealing nail polish.
  • If you wear nail polish, keep choice of color conservation (no bold or neon). Clear or neutral/nude is ideal.
Mouth
  • Brush your teeth.
  • No gum, candy or cigarettes.

What Not to Wear

Sometimes, it’s better to know what you shouldn’t do, rather than what you should do. Here’s a list of inappropriate dress for a workplace. Remember, though, that the dress code depends on the workforce, but we recommend more professional attire, at least until you create rapport at the organization. You can also check the organization's website to see if a dress code is published for employees.

  • No jeans
  • No leggings
  • No shorts
  • No capris
  • No spandex
  • No yoga pants
  • No flip flops
  • No clogs or sandals
  • No open-toed shoes
  • No athletic shoes
  • No tank tops
  • No strapped tops

In Need of Attire?

Shop the Career Closet

Professional attire is essential when participating in an interview, making a presentation or attending a business event, but not every student has access to the resources that would allow them to present themselves professionally. That's why our mission is to provide free, professional attire to UW-Green Bay students in need.

Types of Attire in the Career Closet

We offer new and gently used professional apparel items. Availability of items is based upon donations received by Career Services.

  • Suits
  • Dress Pants
  • Dress Shirts & Blouses
  • Suit Coats
  • Sport Coats
  • Blazers
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Neckties
  • Scarves
  • Belts

Closet Location and Hours

The Career Closet is located on the Green Bay campus in Career Services, Student Services Building Suite 1600. Students may visit the Closet by appointment between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Request a Career Closet appointment

Policies

Currently enrolled students of UW-Green Bay may visit the Career Closet and receive up to 5 items each semester to keep. Students will be asked to present their student/campus I.D. Alumni are not allowed to shop the Career Closet.

Donations

Thank you for considering a donation to the Career Closet. We accept new and gently used suits, pants, dress shirts, blouses, suit/sport jackets, skirts, dresses, scarves, neckties and belts. We ask that attire be clean and in ready-to-wear condition (no buttons missing, broken zippers, tears), and contemporary– generally purchased within the last 5 years.

Donate to the Career Closet

Other Thrifty Professional Attire Options

Here are additional Green Bay community resources that provide professional attire to those in need, as well as an option to purchase reasonably-priced attire.

Green Bay Men's Closet

Through The Salvation Army, individuals will need to obtain a voucher to access the Closet which is located at 1125 West Mason St. (The entrance to the Men's Closet is at 719 Redwood Drive). If you have questions or want to receive information about obtaining a voucher, please call (920) 593-2379 between the hours of 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

YWCA Women's Closet

YWCA Green Bay-De Pere
230 S. Madison St.
Green Bay, WI 54301
Phone: 920-432-5581
YWCA's Women's Career Closet Information

Suitable Attire

Suitable Attire is a program created by indiCo, an organization that works with campus stores to lower costs and support the needs of students. They provide a convenient source of affordable interview, internship, and professional event attire with designer-quality suits and separates that are shipped right to your campus or door. Learn more at SuitableAttire.com.

Need Help?

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