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Professional dress tips help students succeed in the workplace

More and more companies are doing away with formal dress attire and moving to business casual. In fact, 95 percent of all companies today have set up a business casual dress policy.

However, many college students are unaware of how to appropriately dress for a business casual environment.  Here are some Career Center tips to help students identify how to dress professionally in the workplace.

“Business attire is more formal and has specific requirements for men and women,” said Illinois State University Career Advisor Beni Towers Kawakita. Examples of business attire include:

Men:

  • Two-piece suit in grey, navy, or black
  • Button-down shirt in solid neutral color
  • Necktie
  • Matching dress shoes and belt
  • Dress socks that match the pants

Women:

  • Two-piece suit—pants or skirt—in dark or neutral color
  • Tailored shirt with conservative neckline
  • Closed-toe shoes with low to moderate heel
  • Dress
  • Keep accessories to a minimum

“Business casual” attire also has a professional look to it, but is less formal. Examples include:

Men:

  • Black pants or khaki pants, but no “carpenter” pants or denim
  • Jackets or sweaters
  • Polo-type shirt
  • Loafers
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum
  • No visual body art
  • Everything should be pressed, clean, and tailored to fit

Women:

  • Dress or khaki pants, or skirts/dresses to knee or longer
  • Jackets or sweaters
  • Keep accessories to a minimum
  • No visual body art
  • Everything should be pressed, clean, and tailored to fit
  • Closed-toe shoes

The way one dresses can have an impact on the company and its reputation, and affects one’s own reputation as well. When meeting with an employer, customer, or client, one’s first impression is made based on appearance often within seconds.

“Many college students are used to dressing down in sweatpants or jeans for class, but there is more professional expectation in the workplace,” said Towers Kawakita. “Business casual attire means presenting yourself as a professional. If you are unsure if something is appropriate, don’t wear it! Show your company that you are serious about your role, and that you are a true professional.”

“Business attire is always recommended for interviews. Each workplace has different expectations for attire in the day-to-day work environment. It’s important to observe your coworkers and ask questions to learn what’s most appropriate,” said Towers Kawakita.

The Career Center’s career advisors assist students and alumni who have questions about dressing for the workplace or for an interview. Check out the Career Center’s dress for success video and make an appointment with your career advisor for helpful dress tips and advice on proper workplace attire.

 

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