A clean shirt tucked into your dress pants, matching your shoes with a laptop bag that keeps your computer safe while also looking stylish — these items complete an outfit that makes you look sharp. You’re ready. You’re prepared. You’re dressed business casual.
Psychology major and sophomore Juan Ariaz walks around campus dressed in business or business-casual attire most of the time.
“It’s a good look,” Ariaz said. “You get plenty of compliments.”
For Ariaz, professional attire doesn’t necessarily mean suit and tie. “It makes me prepared for anything, like if I wanted to go to an internship fair or an interview,” he said. “You never know who you’re going to run into on campus.”
But dressing well isn’t only important for getting a job — it’s necessary for keeping one as well.
Dave Grove, senior and social media intern for the Admissions Office, agrees with the notion of dressing to impress. Working alongside the office employees in Kehoe, Grove must present himself accordingly.
“It’s so important how you dress because people will make assumptions based on that,” Grove said. “That’s the sad truth.”
When Grove is at home he prefers to dress as comfortable as possible. He dresses in casual clothing such as sweats and gym shorts. However, when he’s at work he has to dress to the standards that are set for him.
“It sets an example,” Grove said.
Popular website, Buzzfeed, offers some advice for college students who are trying to find their way when it comes to dressing for work.
The advice offered on the website includes some humorous takes on the process of changing your wardrobe to a more office-friendly one: “You do not want to look like you’re stopping by the office on your way to Coachella. … Your clothes and grooming should suggest that you take your job seriously,” according to Buzzfeed.
Assistant professor for public relations and journalism Michelle Ouelette is well-versed and knowledgeable on dressing appropriate for work. “Don’t wear risqué clothing,” she said. “Looks matter because people form first impressions, and there are no second chances.”
Collegefashion.net offers students a platform where they can check-in to see what is currently in style for dressing business casual and “simples tip to live by.”
While the business world is becoming more with liberal with personal style and the acceptance of tattoos, there are also some common guidelines that are still followed.
Denim is off-limits, but materials like cotton and polyester are accepted in the office setting. Closed-toe shoes are acceptable, such as flats and heels, while flip-flops are a definite no.
If you wear jewelry or watches, keep it simple. You shouldn’t wear anything too gaudy or distracting.
Personal expression is important, but being appropriate is also crucial in the work world.
Wearing brighter colors is accepted now, instead of always wearing blues, blacks and tans. But stay away from low-cut tops and crazy patterns.
President of the PRSSA chapter at PSUC Samantha Mendes said you should never have to question your outfit.
“Business casual is an outfit you feel comfortable going to your boss with and not be afraid to give a presentation in,” she said.
A common problem students face when they go to pick an outfit out for an internship, interview or presentation is that their closets are often filled with t-shirts, jeans and leggings. It can become a struggle for some students to find suitable clothing when the average college student has mainly casual clothing, and their extra spending money is low.
Mendes started her business wardrobe with two pairs of pants, a blazer and shirts she already owned.
“You can switch it up in a variety of ways with accessories like a watch for instance. The more you’re placed in the business world, the more you’ll grow accustomed to it,” she said.
Both Grove and Ouelette recommend shopping at some of the less expensive stores in the area, with Grove saying A&E, JCPenney and Sears are some of the places he shops from.
“Look for special-colored tags for sales at thrift stores, like the Salvation Army,” Ouelette advises.
“When you’re dressed professionally, you’re presented differently,” Ariaz said. “They [potential hirers] expect you to talk as well as you present yourself.”
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