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Dress to Impress

Most employers base a significant part of their hiring decisions on the non-verbal elements of the recruitment process - body language, posture, listening skills, handsyhake, clothing, grooming and accessories. First impressions play a large part in how employers view your professional credibility and potential performance. It's incredibly difficult to overcome a bad first impression, be it through a career fair, or at a first round interview, regardless of your knowledge or experience level.

One of the key components to presenting yourself as a professional is dressing like one. Below are some tips to dressing to impress accompanied by photo examples. Read through and then ask yourself...am I Dressed to Impress?

For more information on upcoming recruitment events, please contact the Career Services Department at 215-895-1121.


(inspired by the "What Not To Wear" book series)

Do not wear jeans of any kind (even skirts)

Top is too casual

Boots – heel is too high

(Appropriate for a job fair or other less formal recruitment event or work environment)

Pants - Are well tailored and fit appropriately (waist is not cut too low, the legs are not too long)
Black is a classic color

Shirt - Plain button down which goes well under jackets or cardigan sweater

Jacket - Or blazer over shirt.
Color is appropriate as long as it complements neutral pants/shirt

Shoes - Plain, low heel black shoes
Should be leather or microfiber and all one color

Jewelry - Is minimal
One ring per hand (if married engagement ring and wedding band count as one ring)
Simple necklace, bracelet and/or watch

Makeup - Is simple and professional
keep it natural
Nails should have clear polish or a French or American manicure


Khaki pants are too casual

T-shirt is too casual

Jacket is not a blazer or suit jacket, and is therefore inappropriate

Brown belt does not match rest of khaki and black outfit (belts should match the rest of your outfit)

(Appropriate for a recruitment event or less formal interview)
Pants - Are well tailored and fit appropriately (are not too big/baggy)
Charcoal grey is a good neutral color

Shirt - Classic oxford button-down does not have to be paired with a blazer/suit as long as it is worn with a tie!
Fits well; sleeves are long enough (and cuffs are buttoned!); fits well at the neck

Tie - Solid color ties work particularly well when going for a “tonal” look where the color of the tie and shirt are the same, but in a different shade or tone

Shoes - Black dress shoes go well with grey
Polished and not overly scuffed or worn out

Belt - Black belt matches black shoes
Shoes and belt MUST match each other
Belt buckle should be the same metal/color as your watch

Socks - Should match in color to your suit/pants (black with black, grey with grey, tan with tan!)

Hair - Is neat and well groomed
Facial hair should be well groomed as well – you don’t have to be clean shaven, but avoid the “scruffy” look!


NEVER wear jeans!!!

T-shirt is too casual

Cardigan is too casual over a t-shirt and jeans

Shoes are too casual

Jewelry looks out of place with the outfit, and is too casual

Hair is slightly messy (curly hair should be worn back, or styled more).

(A suit is very appropriate and very much recommended for an interview!)

Skirt Suit - Is well tailored and fits appropriately (hemline is not too high, and it does not sit too low on the waist)
Skirt length can vary, but should be long enough that it covers ALL of your thighs when you sit down
Color is a nice touch, just make certain it isn’t too trendy or overwhelming
Jacket and skirt should be of matching color (and at the very least be complementary i.e. a colored jacket with black or navy skirt)

Pantyhose - Sheer, in a neutral color, avoid black stockings
No patterns (i.e. fishnet, stripes); no opaque

Hair - Is neatly pulled back

Jewelry - Is minimal and tasteful

Make-up - Wear minimal or no perfume
Keep make-up natural


Khaki pants are too casual

Polo shirt is too casual

T-shirt should not be visible

(A suit is very appropriate and very much recommended for an interview!)

A classically tailored suit - Color should also be classic or neutral (i.e. black, navy, charcoal grey, pinstripes)

Button down shirt - Must be ironed
Color should not be too bright, pattern should not overwhelm (preferably white)
Make sure your shirt (and the rest of your outfit!) fits well. Nothing should be too big or too small

Tie - The patter/design should be conservative, not flashy
The tie color should match your shirt/suit color
Selecting subtle or simple patters actually enhances credibility

Black dress shoes - Match or compliment the color of the suit
Shoes are shined!
Socks - Should match in color to your suit/pants (black with black, grey with grey, tan with tan!)

Jewelry - One ring per hand and a watch

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