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Professionalism 101: Dress for Success

by Joanne Gemperline, Career Associate, ‘22 Sep 6, 2021

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Dress for Success’ thrown around. I know I have heard it all over the place, from referring to the gym (yes, really) to attending interviews. In general it refers to wearing what's appropriate for the activity, because no one would expect you to wear a suit to the gym, or leggings/shorts to a professional interview! So what does it look like to Dress for Success? And why should we care? 

Specifically, in this blog we will be looking at attire for interviews as well as the professional world. There are many different styles from business professional to casual and each has its place in the workforce. 

Business Professional includes suits and pant suits following a neutral color scheme. Simple hairstyles and jewelry can complete the look. Generally, this is worn for professional interviews, but take some time to learn about the culture of the company before going to the interview or your first day of work, since not all workplaces will expect this. If you are unsure about the company, you can call Human Resources and ask about appropriate dress for the position you are interviewing for. 

Business Casual is one step down from business professional. It includes articles like button-up and collared shirts, blouses and dress pants. More comfortable shoes can also be worn. For some companies, this is more normal as it is more relaxed than suits and is appropriate for jobs that require more movement.  

Smart Casual and Casual involves adding a flair of comfort. This may include nice jeans, loafers, or a polo shirt. When talking about interviews, you may want to stay away from this, but as you learn the culture of the company, this may be the common wear. But remember, even on casual days, stay away from gym wear… that's meant for the gym!

Here are some benefits of looking professional both in interviews and daily in your career:

1. First (and Lasting) Impression

The first time an employer sees you, they are already forming their opinion of you (and through any contact, even virtual, leading up to it). What you wear could set you apart from the rest of the interviewees. Don’t forget that if you are unsure of what to wear, it is okay to call and ask! 

Then, when you get the job, it's just as important to show your dedication to your work through what you wear. As discussed previously though, it is important to learn about the culture… You do not need to wear business professional clothes if everyone is in jeans and a t-shirt!

2. Boost Self-Confidence

Look good, feel good? That’s a thing too! Think about the last time you ironed out your clothes, coordinated your accessories, did your hair… How did it make you feel? When you are confident in yourself, you can be more confident in what you do. Confidence goes a long way for how you feel about yourself--but also how others view you.

3. Add to Productivity

Productivity is important in any workplace from business to media to tech. Feeling good (confidence) assists in getting more work done. Have you ever tried to do homework in pajamas? It generally takes longer! When you are dressed for the job, whether in the professional world, as a student, or going to the gym, wearing the right clothes improves your ability to get the job done. 

You might now be asking, where do I get that professional attire? 

DeSales University’s Career Development Center has 2 great options!

1. Suit-Up
Starting THIS Friday 9/10, JC Penney in the Lehigh Valley Mall partners with DSU to offer students a great discount on their website. Or, stop by the store on 9/12 from 6pm-9pm for in-person shopping. Click on the link or go to Engage and enter ‘Suit-Up’ to learn more!

2. Career Closet
Another option is to check out the Career Development Center’s Career Closet. This initiative is here to provide students with essential professional wear at no cost. Check out the Engage page and enter ‘Career Closet’ to learn more!

Want to learn more about appropriate professional dress? Check out our Professional Dress Brochure or stop by the Career Development Center (Dooling 121) to ask!

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