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Dress for Success

Dress for Success Tips


  1. Hair should be conservative, combed, and not covering eyes
  2. Be well groomed - fingernails, hair, facial hair, etc.
  3. Bathe, use deodorant, and have fresh breath (not recommended to wear perfume/cologne)
  4. No tattoos showing; no piercings for men, one pair of conservative earrings for women
  5. The less formal and more creative the work environment, the more creative your options for color/style of your attire
  6. No tight or revealing clothing
  7. No sleeveless, strapless, or spaghetti strap clothing
  8. Mix comfort and style
  9. Items that can be handy to have: lint brush, mirror, fingernail clippers/file, comb/brush, breath mints, extra nylons, hairspray, shoe polish


  • Suits
    • Can be pant suits or skirts
    • Dark colors such as black, navy blue, or charcoal grey
    • Skirts should not be too long or too short – knee length is typical
  • Blouses
    • Solid colors, white preferred (light color or thin stripes acceptable)
    • Long-sleeved
    • Hosiery/Socks
      • Flesh toned hosiery, dark trouser socks
      • No “runs” – carry an extra pair
      • Required with skirts – no bare legs
  • Shoes
    • Basic pump/dress shoe with 1-2 inch heel or dressy flats – no open toe or heel
    • Colors such as black or navy blue – should match your outfit
    • Make sure they are comfortable and easy to walk in
  • Nails
    • Should be well manicured and medium to short length
    • Polish should be neutral or no polish (remove cracked or peeling polish)
  • Make Up
    • Conservative, natural look – less is more
  • Jewelry
    • Should be kept to a minimum and conservative
    • Limit amount of rings, one pair of small earrings; necklaces are acceptable if simple
    • oother piercings besides ears are unacceptable; no ankle bracelets
  • Business Casual usually means dress slacks, dresses, skirts and blouses; no khakis, jeans, or shorts; no open toed or backless shoes
Updated 9/22/09
Carson Center for Professional Development
Todd Hall 101, 509.335.5480


  • Suits
    • Dark colors such as black, navy blue, or charcoal grey
    • Two solids, one pattern – usually solid suit and shirt, conservatively patterned tie
    • Single breasted with 2, 3, or 4 buttons and always leave bottom button undone
    • Unbutton coat when sitting
    • Cuffed pants
    • Suits should be wool or high quality blend
    • Only dry clean suit when it’s dirty; if wrinkled have it pressed to increase life of the suit
    • Make sure a suit fits properly (tailoring may be necessary) and is comfortable
    • When sitting, pull up slacks at the thigh, but not so much that skin is showing
    • Dress shirts
    • Solid colors, white preferred (Beige, light yellow or blue also acceptable)
    • Always long-sleeved and tucked in
    • 100% cotton is suggested
    • Wear an undershirt
  • Ties
    • Conservative pattern or striped
    • Silk or high-quality blend
    • Hang to belt line
    • No “loud” ties, be conservative; avoid pink or yellow, not powerful
  • Socks
    • Dark colors that match attire
    • No white socks
    • Over the calf, so no skin is visible when legs are crossed
    • Dress shoes
    • Black, cordovan or brown – choose color to match attire
    • Lace up is preferred and more formal
    • Shine shoes, no scuff marks
  • Belt
    • Leather that matches color and finish of dress shoes
    • Small belt buckle
  • Watch
    • Classy and formal
  • Business Casual usually means dress slacks and a button down shirt with conservative colors and patterns (if any), no tie, dress black or brown shoes; no khakis, jeans, or shorts; no white socks
Overview & Purpose: Students will be able to develop a visual representing appropriate dress and grooming.
Objectives: To understand the importance of a first impression. To be able to describe the appropriate dress for a job interview and why.   To be able to describe appropriate dress after you have been hired. (Business dress vs. Casual dress)
Teaching Method: Format: Open Discussion
Prepared By: Greg Cummings