Tip Tuesday: What to Wear

Written by Career Coach, Cat Hyland

This post goes out to all the ladies struggling with their business wardrobes these days…I mean seriously—what in the world is business casual?

What-Do-I-Wear

It seems that men have it pretty easy when it comes to business dress standards. For them, business professional means a suit and business casual means a button down and nice pants.

For women, there seem to be many more options and often times the lines can feel much more blurred between business casual and business professional. If you’re someone who feels anxious over these blurred lines, read on…

Here are a few tips (from the perspective of a fourth year Fisher student) to help you along when you are trying to decide what to wear.

  1. If you are asked to dress business professional for an event, a pant suit is great. However, I personally don’t really like the way pant suits fit me, so I tend to lean toward “skirt suits” (suits with a pencil skirt instead of pants) or business style dresses with a blazer. This makes me feel more comfortable and confident while still feeling professional.
  1. If you are asked to dress business casual, feel it out. You can tell when an organization is more on the traditionally business professional side. In these situations, I would lean toward dressing more business professional just to be safe. This might mean a business style skirt and blouse or dress pants and a blouse (a blazer isn’t necessary, but never hurts). However, many organizations these days are becoming more casual in their dress standards. In these situations, it is safe to be a bit more casual. This might mean nice dark pants (not necessarily the pants from your suit, just make sure they are nice fabric and not jeans) and a nice blouse or sweater.
  1. If you are attending a networking event with multiple companies, lean toward dressing more professional. Obviously these companies will differ in the dress that they expect to see, but no one will ever be disappointed if you are “over-dressed” for a networking event.
  1. Whether you’re expected to dress business professional or business casual, conservative is always good. Tight & short are words that typically don’t go well with business attire for women. If you’re wearing a dress or nice shirt that does not cover your shoulders entirely, be sure to have a sweater or a blazer to go along with it. Length of dresses and skirts should be appropriate.
  1. It never hurts to ask what is appropriate! Here is a personal example… During my internship this summer, we were expected to dress business casual. Having the information that I learned throughout my time at Fisher, I assumed that this meant I still needed to wear closed-toe shoes with my outfits. However, it was the middle of summer and I noticed that some people throughout the office wore open-toed shoes. I was dying to wear some of my cute sandals or open-toed heels with some of my business casual dresses and skirts, but didn’t want to make any assumptions that it was appropriate. Instead, I simply asked the intern coordinator what kind of shoes would be appropriate and she confirmed that cute, classy, strappy sandals, or cute open-toed heels were indeed acceptable. This made things much easier and I never had to second guess whether or not I was making a mistake.

Hopefully, this post helps clear things up a bit (especially for underclassmen who are just starting to experience situations where they are expected to dress business casual or professional). Stay tuned for my next post with some suggestions about where to shop for business casual and business professional attire!

#tbt By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. –Benjamin Franklin

Written by Undergraduate Consultant, Marlina Frederick

Cliché, but true! Prior to an interview, it’s important that you prepare by conducting company research. How to Find a Job explains:

“It’s very natural for you to want to “drop everything and run,” getting there as fast as you can; but that’s the wrong thing to do. There’s work to be done before you make that call. First, if you haven’t found out facts you ought to know about the firm you hope to become associated with, do so before you call. Important facts are: (a) the business of the firm, (b) what goods they produce or sell, (c) the length of time they have been in business, (d) their financial rating, (e) the kind of job you are to apply for, (f) your qualifications for that job.”

If company research seems kind of overwhelming, remember that job seekers in the 50’s didn’t have the World Wide Web at their fingertips! Utilize the company’s website, online business journals, and company information databases like Hoover’s to help you learn about the company. For more information on how to conduct company research, check out our Company Research Guide. Happy researching!

#tbt Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

Some things haven’t changed since the 50’s. How to Find a Job reminds job seekers to check personal appearance before heading to an interview:

“Did you bathe? Is your hair neatly combed? Are you teeth brushed? Is your breath sweet? Are your fingernails clean? Are your shoes shined? Are your clothes neatly pressed? These may seem like rather personal questions, but you must remember that employers are—and have a right to be—extremely critical. If you are slovenly in appearance, they have good reason to believe that you will be slovenly in your work.”

Take a minute to check your appearance in the mirror (and maybe give yourself a quick pep-talk!) before heading off to an interview. Good luck!