Dress for Success

Sources say that up to 55 percent of another person's perception of you is based on how you look, so make the right impression at your interview. Although dressing and grooming appropriately may not get you the job, it will give you a competitive edge and help to make a positive first impression.

Throughout the entire job-seeking process employers use short-cuts to save time. With cover letters, it is reading the opening paragraph. With résumés, it is a quick scan of your accomplishments. With the job interview, it's how you are dressed. Here are some guidelines and tips to help you make a good first impression and set the right tone.


Always dress professionally for an interview.

Women and Men

  • Neat, professional hairstyle.
  • Manicured nails.
  • Portfolio or briefcase.
  • Clean and pressed clothing.


  • Solid color, conservative suit.
  • Coordinated blouse with no bold colors or patterns.
  • Flats or low-heeled shoes.
  • One set of earrings only. No more than one ring on each hand.
  • Conservative hosiery at or near skin color.
  • Minimal use of makeup. (It should not be too noticeable.)
  • No or very light perfume.
  • Manicured nails with neutral polish.
  • Do not carry a purse.


  • Solid color, conservative suit.
  • White or light blue long-sleeved shirt.
  • Silk necktie with a conservative pattern. Learn how to tie a Windsor knot.
  • Dark non-bulky socks.
  • Dark shoes, cleaned and polished.
  • Belt should match shoes.
  • No aftershave or cologne.
  • No earrings. No rings other than wedding or college ring.

Business Casual

Business casual attire is less formal than professional and, unless otherwise stated, is not appropriate for interviews. Many organizations have relaxed internal dress codes and permit business casual attire for daily business operations. However, professional dress is generally preferred for client meetings and other important events.


  • Tailored pantsuit or coordinating shirt and blouse.
  • Business skirt with an appropriate blouse.
  • Flats or low-heeled shoes.


  • Dark-colored slacks with a solid or bold line dress shirt. Coats or ties are optional.
  • Khaki pants if they are pressed and neat.

Things to Avoid

  • Loud colors (clothes/shoes, jewelry, make-up, hair).
  • Casual wear (jeans, sweat suits, t-shirts, tank tops).
  • Floral, plaid, or other "busy" designs.
  • Shorts, capri pants, and short skirts.
  • Mismatched clothing (fabrics, colors, patterns).
  • Wrinkled, untucked, pilled or linty clothing.
  • Tattered, faded, stained or dirty clothing.
  • Revealing fabrics.
  • Plastic or crafty jewelry, including earrings.
  • Excessive jewelry.
  • Cleavage, chest hair.
  • Strong odors (perfumes, colognes, smoke, garlic).
  • Visible body art (tattoos, bodmod).
  • Open-toed footwear and athletic shoes.