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Dress for Success: Professional Attire

The Suit. Single breasted, 2-3 button. Matching jacket and pants. Sleeve length to wrist bone, showing ¼" of shirt sleeve. Best colors grey, black, navy, or brown. women's suit

  • Women. Pant suit or knee length skirted suit.
  • Men. Pant length should give a slight break at the front of your shoe. ½" of shirt collar showing. Leave the bottom jacket button undone. Cuffs are your preference, but the weight of a cuff helps pleats to hang smoothly.

Shirts/Blouses. Thick enough to not see through. No short-sleeves. Sleeve length to the break of your thumb. Best colors are white, light blue, pale color (women have more choices).

  • Women. Avoid tight fit, low necklines, and revealing waistlines.
  • Men. Collar (wide or narrow) should contrast your face. Check out

men's suitMen's Ties. Darker than your shirt. Length should end at your belt. Keep it conservative - your tie should never be funnier than you are. Don't know how to tie a tie?

Shoes. Comfortable polished leather.

  • Women. Closed toe, 1"-1/2" heel. 
  • Men. Laces are more professional. Best colors are black or burgundy.

Finishing Touches. Leather portfolio/briefcase. No book bags. No cologne/perfume. Cover tattoos if possible. Professional haircut. No smoking (even when sending applications). Even your pen is part of your image.

women's business casualWomen's Accessories. Stay conservative. No piercings other than earrings. Wear neutral color hose (bring an extra pair). Natural-looking makeup. Clear nail polish (if any). Briefcase/portfolio OR purse. Shoes determine your pant length.

Men's Accessories. Match belt and shoes (color and shine). Calf length socks should match or be slightly darker than pants. One ring per hand and no earrings or other piercings. Professional watch (no sports watches). Shave or neatly trimmed beard.

How to Buy. Steal (ideas not clothes) from magazines, TV, movies, and other people (doesn't mean it's going to look good on you). Choose quality over quantity - build to your existing wardrobe later instead of constantly replacing. Purchase items together (or bring) to ensure a match. Match your suit by looking at the color of its buttons. Ask an "educated" salesperson and/or bring a friend. When trying on, move around and sit down to see what it will look and feel like. Buy one outfit at a time - if not, mistakes will be duplicated. Wear the same socks when buying shoes. Get your measurements taken.

Buying on a Budget. Remember, you get what you pay for. Look at what you have so you can buy different colors/styles. Found a great deal and want to buy ten different colors hoping no one will notice - you're wrong. Only afford one suit - vary your shirts and ties. Mix sport coats and pants. Avoid fads/trends. Borrow if it fits.

Corporate Survival Kit. Have handy: lint brush, extra shoelaces, mirror, comb/brush, umbrella, fingernail clippers, breath mints/toothpicks, navy sport coat and two ties (men), and a Tide® to Go™ instant stain remover.

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