” The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.” – Blake Lively
In this season of interviews, career fairs, and networking receptions I am often asked, “What should I wear?” “Would this outfit be OK?” “Is it better to wear a red or blue tie?”
Certainly guidelines abound as to what comprises appropriate professional and casual attire. It can be tricky, though, for what constitutes “business professional” in some organizations, may be considered “business causal” at others. For example, you know that your jeans and t-shirts aren’t going to cut it, but perhaps you don’t know if a 3-piece suit is the way to go. You’ve heard of casual Fridays, but aren’t sure what that means either! So what do you do?
First, consider the situation. Interviews should always be business attire; it’s best to wear business attire to career fairs, although business casual could be acceptable if you’re seeking an internship. Networking events depend on the venue, your purpose for attending, and those who you are hoping to meet.
You can take the guess work out of it by setting a few rules:
- Wear business attire in any situation in which you hope to make a good impression on potential employers/clients/colleagues/etc.
- Don’t assume that “Business Casual” is in any way casual. Instead, think of it as “Business Smart.”
- When in doubt, opt for conservative business wear.
- You don’t have to spend a fortune to find business attire that fits well and looks professional; shop around and find key items that will mix and match to create several looks.
If you really want to dress to impress, then dress as Ms. Lively suggests. Wear confidence! A smile, a firm handshake, good eye contact, prepared talking points and stories that convey your achievements, thorough research, and good questions. These will surely get you noticed.
-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development
Note: Blake Lively is an actress, model, and celebrity homemaker