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What Do I Wear to….?

You only have one chance to make a first impression and that first impression is partially based on your appearance and how you carry yourself. At any type of event, especially career related, your attire and appearance are non-verbal statements about who you are and what you do. In fact, your appearance not only shows you are taking the employer’s time seriously, but that you are eager to make a good impression and you are confident that you will fit into the company.

When deciding what to wear for different recruiting events, consider the following guidelines:

Feeling confident about your appearance is the first step to being confident in the interview! A good rule of thumb is to dress in business professional attire for interviews.


  • Wear a conservative dark-colored, two-piece matching business suit.
  • Choose a long-sleeved, light-colored, button-down shirt that falls ¼ to ½ inch below suit sleeve.
  • Select a tie that does not have a bold pattern (silk ties work well) that ends at mid-belt.
  • Match your belt to the color of your shoes.
  • Pick dark-colored socks to match your suit; socks should be at least mid-length and go past your ankles.


  • Wear a conservative, two-piece matching business suit. Knee-length skirts or pant suits are both appropriate
  • Keep colors neutral such as black, navy, grey, beige, or white.
  • Wear a collared, button-down shirt or blouse under your suit jacket.
  • Wear nylons or tights if wearing a skirt or dress; always have a spare pair in case of tears.
  • Pick comfortable, low-heeled, pumps or flats.

Career Fairs, Info Sessions, Job Shadows

Business casual attire (at a minimum) should be worn to accommodate expectations of the widely diverse group of employers you will meet at career fairs. Unless noted otherwise, business casual is also appropriate for employer information sessions and job shadow events. Business casual is not as formal as a full interview suit, but not as casual as the attire you would wear to a sporting event or dinner with friends. You are still in a business environment; your attire should be appropriate and comfortable for even an unexpected run-in with upper management.


  • Wear dress pants or corduroys.
  • Ties are generally not necessary for business casual, but if in doubt, you can wear a tie.
  • Polos or sweater can be paired with slacks.
  • Blazer or sport coat can replace suit jacket.


  • May wear dress pants or corduroys.
  • Knit sweaters and sweater sets are safe business casual choices.
  • Blazer or vest can replace suit jacket.
  • Nylons/tights are not essential but recommended when wearing a skirt (always knee-length or longer).

Remember appearance is more than your clothes

  • Hair should be neat, clean and conservative.
  • Men should be clean shaven or have facial hair neatly trimmed.
  • Avoid heavy use of cologne, perfume, and body products with strong scents such as after-shave or deodorant.
  • Wear daytime, natural-looking makeup—no heavy eyeliner or glittery shadows.
  • Keep nails clean and neat.
  • Lip color and nail polish should not be too bold or bright.
  • Keep your jewelry and hair accessories to a minimum.

Bottom line–what you wear to your next job interview or career fair might be more important than you think. Why? Whether you like it or not, your appearance is the first thing people notice about you–and first impressions are usually formed within seconds. Take the time and effort to put together an outfit that reflects the message you are trying to send!

Please make an appointment with an ECS advisor for questions about dress as it relates to gender expression.

“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” 
-Samuel Johnson


Categories: Attire

About the author

Kaitlin Schafer

Kaitlin Schafer is a Career Counselor at Engineering Career Services.