Finding the perfect outfit for class can be hard, and finding the most appropriate outfit for a more formal setting can be even harder. Luckily, both Career Services and professors are available to help students figure out what to wear and even how to present themselves when they are faced with daunting job interviews or presentations.
As you get ready for that demonstration of your best qualities, there are some things to keep in mind before planning on what to wear.
It starts with a sensory first impression: For both men and women, it is best to avoid any strong fragrances, as your interviewer or audience could be allergic to your favorite scent. Instead, try for that squeaky-clean scent by taking a shower right before your big interview. You will still smell good, and it might help you to relax.
When trying to figure out what to carry your things in, stay away from bulky bags or purses. Men can get a nice brief case and women should not carry anything bigger than a small tote bag.
If you have any tattoos, make sure that they are covered by your clothes or you can buy special make-up that is used specifically to cover them until you get a feel for the work environment’s level of comfort regarding body art.
You will want to keep your jewelry simple, and it can be helpful to wear a watch since it is recommended to be at least 15 minutes early in order to give yourself time to get into a professional mindset. Keep time and maybe try stacking that watch with mixed-metal bangles for a feminine touch.
When you go to style your hair make sure to keep it away from your face. Otherwise it could distract from what you are trying to say, and more importantly, it could distract your audience.
Having your outfit laid out the night before, ironed and ready to go can help to make your routine move a lot more smoothly. As you prepare what to wear, it is never a bad thing to find yourself going above and beyond.
“Dress a little more formal than what you are thinking. Dress for the job that you are interviewing for, so if they dress casual then dress a little more formal than that. If the job is very formal, then match that attire,” Dr. T. Evan Smith, associate professor of psychology, said.
This idea of dressing to match the occasion can work for presentations as well, especially if you can pinpoint who your audience is and what they might respond to.
Career Services can be a helpful source in finding what is best to wear as well. Staff members suggest that if you identify as male you should wear a dark suit with a light button-up shirt. Make sure to wear an undershirt under your button-up shirt, and your socks, shoes and belt should all match (black is best).
Your shoes should be closed toe unless the job allows sandals, but no flip flops. If you would like to wear a tie, make sure that any pattern is subtle and matches your outfit.
If you identify as female, the process gets a little more complicated as there are usually more options for dress. If you want simplicity, a simple suit with a jacket is best. A business dress with a jacket also works for those who want to stay away from pants.
Dress pants or a skirt with a blouse or sweater can work as well. If you choose a dress or a skirt, be careful that it is no shorter than two inches above your knee and make sure to wear tights or pantyhose under your dress or skirt.
When you go to pick out your shirt make sure that the neckline is no lower than two or three inches below the base of your neck. Your shoes should be closed toe with a low heel or no heel at all, the latter being much easier to walk in for those who may be shaking their heads at a classic pump.
When going to apply your make-up remember that less is always more. Keep your look simple and natural. The same goes for your nails: A pinky nude manicure elongates your fingers and provides a clean palette for any metallic rings or bracelets to stand out against.
As a student, it is always important to remember who or what you are representing when you go into an interview or to give a presentation. “You are representing Elizabethtown College,” Dr. Catherine Lemley, professor of psychology, said.
While professional attire may seem like a drag, it is important to remember that what you wear does say something about you whether you are aware of it or not. Giving off a professional and respectful vibe can help make or break an interview or presentation. When you take yourself seriously, others will too.