Dress for Success(ful Interviews and Client Meetings)

Otterbein's Center for Career Planning offers these tips for dressing professionally. You could use these tips for a client meeting, an interview, and/or the job.

Women's Dress

  • Clothing
    • Select a skirted suit, pantsuit or a conservatively tailored dress that draws the eye to your face.
    • Skirts are traditionally knee-length but those slightly shorter or longer are also acceptable.
    • Select blouses or sweaters that provide visual interest, but avoid transparent fabrics, tight fit, low necklines, revealing waistlines or details that detract from your face as a focal point. Typically, arms are covered at least to the biceps and often to the wrist.
    • Always wear hose to interviews. Wear plain-style, nonpatterned hosiery and select colors that flatter your coloring. For traditional industries, wear a neutral color. For other industries, you may choose to wear hose that coordinate with your skirt. Carry an extra pair in case of runs.
    • Other choices include a coordinated outfit, tailored jacket, or sweater set.
  • Shoes
    • Wear hard-soled shoes with closed toes and closed heels. Open-toed shoes are associated with social agendas.
    • Wear flat shoes or low pumps in colors that avoid making your feet a focal point. Be sure that they are clean and polished. Avoid shoes that hinder walking fast, which lowers credibility.
  • Grooming and Hygiene
    • Use natural-looking makeup and clear nail polish to keep the focus on the interview.
    • Perfume should never be strong. A fragrance can cause an allergic reaction or offend the interviewer. When in doubt, do not wear perfume.
  • Accessories
    • Add accessories to express your personality and accentuate your best features. A scarf or necklace is an effective way to focus on your face. Keep it simple!
    • Do not carry a purse with a briefcase. Choose one or the other.
    • Avoid dangling earrings and wear no more than one ring per hand and a dress watch.

Men's Dress

  • Clothing
    • Wear a matching suit in navy, black or gray (pinstripe or solid) or wear a navy blazer and gray dress slacks. They serve as a visual background that draws the eye to the face.
    • Wear white or a light blue dress shirt that contrasts with the jacket and/or tie. Typically, arms should be covered to the wrist. Exposing arms by rolling up your sleeves is interpreted as less powerful and is less formal.
    • A full-length coat can be worn over your suit;. Avoid casual coats.
    • Socks should be calf-length or above the calf. Choose natural-fiber blends that allow a flow of air and do not hold in perspiration and heat. Choose colors such as dark blue, black or gray.
    • A (silk or silk-like) tie should coordinate with the jacket and pants but choose one that strongly contrasts with the color of your shirt; selecting subtle or simple patterns enhances credibility.
  • Shoes
    • Select lace-up or slip-on dress shoes. The color should be dark or blend with pants.
    • Wear conservative, clean, and polished shoes.
  • Grooming and Hygiene
    • A short hair cut and no facial hair is usually expected, especially in more conservative industries.
    • Cologne should never be strong. A fragrance can cause an allergic reaction or offend the interviewer. When in doubt, do not wear cologne
  • Accessories
    • A briefcase is part of the visual effect; consider a simple portfolio as an effective substitute, and try to select a color that supports your visual effect.
    • Minimize jewelry. Avoid necklaces and earrings for the interview. Wear no more than one ring per hand and a dress watch.
    • Select a leather belt that visually blends or matches your shoe.