How to Dress for Any Career Occasion

…a Career Fair

Some collegiettes make the mistake of dressing for a career fair as they would on the job.  In many cases, you can dress much more casually on the job than you should for a career fair. “Remember, you have to get the job before you can dress like someone who already has a job,” Ferguson Hodges says.

Most career fairs require business casual attire to enter. “Business casual means that you should appear professional and ‘pulled together’ yet somewhat relaxed,” she says.

Best options:

  • Nice slacks
  • Knee-length skirt
  • Simple, light-colored blouse
  • Low heels

…an Informational Interview

An informational interview is a brief meeting with someone in a profession or an organization you want to explore. Note that it's NOT an interview in which you seek a job—it’s for you to learn from the professional about his or her experience.

Informational interviews can be extremely valuable. According to Ferguson Hodges, when you meet in person to conduct a professional informational interview, present yourself in a way that puts your contact at ease. “This means dress appropriately,” she says. “If you are meeting at a coffee shop, you may dress casually in comparison to meeting in a corporate conference room.”

Best options:

  • Simple, solid-colored dress with a blazer
  • Button-down shirt with a skirt
  • Cute flats


What NOT to Wear: General Tips for Off-Limits Attire

No matter what the career situation is, be sure to avoid these items!

Perfume: Who knows if anyone in the office is allergic? You don’t want to be the person giving people hives.

Excessive and/or bulky jewelry: This includes anything that would make it look as if you might be heading out to party. Loading up on the bling and sparkles can be just a bit distracting. Contrary to what we’ve been taught in the fashion world (unless of course, you’re working in the fashion world), try not to stand out with your clothes. Let your performance at work do the talking.

Torn jeans or cut-off shorts: Definitely not the best choice —you want to look professional, not like you came from the beach!

Heels or rubber flip-flops: If you will be walking or standing up most of the day, flats or wedges are probably a better, more comfortable option than heels.  If you must wear heels, bring flats to change into for your commute! Flip-flops are just too casual for a professional workspace.

Anything too revealing: This includes plunging necklines and too-short skirts. You never know what kind of task you might get assigned or who you’ll meet. Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to meet the president of the company in—you never know when she or he will get in the same elevator as you.

Sweatpants or leggings: Similar to rubber flip-flops, these are just too casual and sloppy.


Take these tips into consideration when you’re preparing for any special career occasion! Remember: no matter what you’re wearing, confidence and a warm smile outweigh any fancy suit or heels.