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How to Dress Professionally

As collegiettes, we will embark on one of the most nerve-wracking and exciting journeys at least once in our college career: the job interview. After attending countless career fairs, interviews, and even going through sorority formal recruitment, I’ve gained a sense of what the average college girl thinks of business professional attire: a blazer, leggings, and high heels. While the look may appear classy and put together, it is far from professional and recruiters from large companies will not take that seriously. Take it from a girl who was turned away from her first career fair for wearing open-toed shoes, knowing how to dress professionally is not suggested, it is required. Here are my tips on dressing professionally, from head to toe.

1.     Invest in a good suit.

By suit, I do not mean a cute blazer and a tight pencil skirt that are two different shades of black (trust me, recruiters do notice these things). A suit is a pair made up of a fitted blazer and a matching skirt. The blazer must button comfortably and sit nice on your shoulders; the skirt cannot be skin-tight and must fall right above your knees. If you prefer pants, make sure they are hemmed to fit your legs (yes, my fellow short girls, I am talking to you). And by pants, I do not mean leggings! Regardless of how thick or opaque they are, leggings can never be used as dress pants, ever.

There are so many stores that sell suits for a variety of prices – such as Macy’s, Banana Republic, and even H&M – and the average price for a good suit is $100. I purchased mine from Zara for $105 (as shown below), and I could not be more pleased with it. While this may seem like a lot of money to spend on two pieces of clothing, think of it as an investment. A good suit could help you land you a great job – now that’s worth it!



2.     The Blouse

You have your suit, now you need to know what you’re wearing underneath it! If you do not have a button-down shirt, start off with a plain white one. A black suit with a white blouse is classic and you can never go wrong with it. However, if you’re looking to be more creative, wear a blouse that is a different color or has a tasteful print! Wearing the same thing to each professional event is boring; express your style and personality with a cute blouse!

3.     Pantyhose

Another thing I learned from my first career fair: no pantyhose, no goes. If you are wearing a skirt, you must wear pantyhose underneath it.


4.     Shoes

Ladies, put those stilettoes and wedges away! Not only are high heels uncomfortable, but they also will not reflect well at professional events. Opt for a lower heel, 1 to 2 inches high, which has a closed toe (I learned my lesson the hard way). Black or nude heels are best for the business professional look; save the colored heels for a more festive occasion!

5.     Jewelry & Accessories

If you have unconventional piercings (i.e. anything other than one piercing on each ear lobe), I highly suggest you take them out if they can be seen. I like to wear pearl studs, but anything simple and tasteful will do! Also, cut down the arm candy; you do not want to make too much noise when you go to shake hands with someone. A nice watch and a couple of matching, classy bracelets will do. Top it off with a nice bag, and you’re good!

6.     Hair & Makeup

Time to tame the frizz! If you can, blow-dry or straighten your hair for a polished look. Otherwise, if you have crazy natural hair, polish it with a serum or cream just to tame any frizz or flyaway hairs.

I am an avid lover of the winged-out eyeliner look; however, career fairs and interviews are not the time to wear bold makeup. Wear foundation, concealer, or face powder (or all three) to make your skin look even. Opt for a nude or neutral eye shadow, apply a couple of coats of mascara (leave the falsies in the drawer!), and wear a light shade of blush or bronzer. Lastly, leave the lips neutral as well – no bright red lipstick!

And that’s it! While it may seem overwhelming and restricts you from expressing yourself through your style, dressing professionally is fun! The whole point is to focus on you, your intelligence, and your creativity; a bold look might distract someone important – like recruiters – from the conversation and what you have to bring to the table as a person. Save the fun clothes for another time and suit up!

Priyanka is a junior at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is pursuing a major in Marketing and a minor in Spanish language. Priyanka is obsessed with beauty, fashion, and coffee. When she is not running around campus, Priyanka enjoys spending time with her Sigma Kappa sorority sisters, shopping at Zara, and watching Sex and the City.Get to know her more! Follow Priyanka on Twitter: @priyankajayy
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