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Business Dress Basics – What to Have on Hand

Career fairs and job interviews can sneak up in college, and nothing kills a first impression like showing up in a mini-skirt and Keds! So here is a simple breakdown of the essentials to pack for business dress…

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Business Professional…

Is the most formal and conservative, appropriate for interviewing and special events. That means you’ll want to wear a full suit: either a matching skirt and jacket or matching wide-leg trousers and jacket should be paired with a nice white or subtle shirt (collared, button down, turtleneck) and closed-toe pumps (heels no higher than two inches).

If you choose to wear a skirt, make sure it falls no higher than just above the kneecap and is not too tight or flowy – think pencil skirt! In keeping with the most conservative dress, it’s also a good idea to wear neutral or invisible pantyhose.

For finance and consulting positions, business professional dress should be entirely black, navy, or charcoal gray, while more creative positions allow room for a subtle shirt pattern or color.

Business Casual…

Is intended more for everyday business dress, and can vary depending on the workplace or event. In general, this means adding a bit of color or pattern to an otherwise professional outfit. While this dress is more casual, wearing closed-toe shoes and having a jacket or cardigan around to avoid bare shoulders in a meeting is still recommended.  

Smart Casual…

Generally applies to casual events, such as picnics or casual Fridays. This dress implies being presentable and clean but not dressed up. Dress can be more expressive in colors and designs, khakis or colored pants are common, and you may consider wearing flats!

The DO NOTs:

Unless specified, do not wear shorts or spaghetti straps! 

It’s also a good idea to be conscious about excessive or distracting jewelry, exposed skin and plunging necklines.    

And as they say, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

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Rachel Cooper is a Siena College Class of 2020 alumna. During her time at Siena, she studied Marketing.
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