Business Casual Attire
- Some career fairs and job fairs
attire should be specified in the promotional
materials for each fair. Note that some fairs suggest or require interview
attire. Do your research in advance.
- Most employer information sessions. These are typically evening sessions held
the day prior to an employer's first interview day on campus. Information
sessions held in a classroom on campus or conducted as a presentation to a
large group don't require you to be quite as strict in your attire as a
reception-type event. Some employer information sessions are conducted as
receptions on or off campus, perhaps in a hotel facility. In some cases
interview attire, or business attire which is more formal than business casual
may be called for. This can depend on the industry and the type of employer
hosting the event. If you are in doubt, ask the employer before attending.
- The invitation, flyer or notice says to. A no-brainer!
- When in doubt, ask the host / sponsor about attire for a function you will be
attending. It is never wrong to politely inquire about appropriate attire.
Information On When to Wear Business Casual:
Traveling to an On-Site Interview
While traveling to an on-site interview, semi-casual attire or business dress
(see above), is best. You may meet someone when traveling or be met upon
arrival by someone who will have a part in the hiring process.
If you are attending an evening reception or dinner as part of your interview
process, business dress is most suitable unless otherwise specified in the
For employer presentations/receptions on-campus, semi-casual or casual dress is
acceptable, while business dress is most appropriate for presentations or
receptions off-campus unless otherwise stated by the employer.
For career fairs, business dress is best if you are prospecting for job leads.
If you are looking for internship leads, semi-casual or casual attire is
Picking Up / Dropping Off
For picking up or dropping off a resume or application at an employer's office,
it is suggested that you wear semi-casual dress.
- Business casual is crisp, neat, and should look appropriate even for a chance
meeting with a CEO. It should not look like cocktail or party or picnic attire.
Avoid tight or baggy clothing; business casual is classic rather than trendy.
Khaki pants, neatly pressed, and a pressed long-sleeved, buttoned solid shirt
are safe for both men and women. Polo shirts, unwrinkled, are an appropriate
choice if you know the environment will be quite casual, outdoors or in a very
hot location. This may not seem like terribly exciting attire, but you are not
trying to stand out for your cutting edge look, but for your good judgment in a
- Shoes / belt:
Wear a leather belt and leather shoes. Athletic shoes are inappropriate.
- Cost / quality:
You are not expected to be able to afford the same clothing as a corporate CEO.
However, do invest in quality that will look appropriate during your first two
or three years on the job for a business casual environment or occasions.
Everything should be clean, well pressed, and not show wear. Even the nicest
khakis after 100 washings may not be your best choice for a reception.
Carefully inspect new clothes for tags, and all clothes for dangling threads,
etc. (as with interview attire).
- Use common sense:
If there are six inches of snow on the ground and/or you are rushing to get to
an information session between classes and you left home 12 hours earlier, no
one will expect you to show up looking ready for a photo shoot they'll just
be happy you made it. Just avoid wearing your worst gym clothes and jeans. If
you show up at an event and realize you're not as well dressed as you should
be, make a quick, pleasant apology and make a good impression with your
interpersonal skills and intelligent questions.
Ties are generally not necessary for business casual, but if you are in doubt,
you can wear a tie. It never hurts to slightly overdress; by dressing nicely,
you pay a compliment to your host. You can always wear the tie and discreetly
walk by the room where the function is held; if no one else is wearing a tie,
you can discreetly remove yours.
Long-sleeved shirts are considered dressier than short-sleeved and are
appropriate even in summer. Choosing white or light blue solid, or conservative
stripes is your safest bet. Polo shirts (tucked in, of course) are acceptable
in more casual situations.
Wear dark socks, mid-calf length so no skin is visible when you sit down.
Leather shoes should be worn. No sandals, athletic shoes or hiking boots.
- Facial hair:
Just as with interviews: Facial hair, if worn, should be well-groomed. Know
your industry and how conservative it is; observe men in your industry if you
are unsure what's appropriate or are considering changing your look.
Wear a conservative watch. If you choose to wear other jewelry, be
conservative. Removing earrings is safest. For conservative industries, don't
wear earrings. Observe other men in your industry to see what is acceptable.
- Don't confuse club attire with business attire. If you would wear it to a club,
you probably shouldn't wear it in a business environment.
- Pants / skirts:
Women can wear casual pants or skirts. Neither should be tight. Fabrics should
be crisp; colors should generally be solid; navy, black, gray, brown and khaki
are always safe bets. For the most business-like appearance, pants should be
creased and tailored; neither extreme of tight or flowing. If you are pursuing
a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well-dressed women in your
industry on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, etc.
- Skirt length and slits:
Your skirt should come at least to your knees while you are standing. While you
are seated, your thighs should be covered. If your skirt comes to just below
the knee, a slit to just above the knee might be acceptable. A very long skirt
should not be slit to above the knee. Generally slits in the center back of a
skirt to facilitate walking a stair climbing are acceptable. Slits to
facilitate a view of your legs are not appropriate for business purposes. Slips
should not be visible.
- Shirt / sweaters:
In addition to tailored shirts or blouses, tailored knit sweaters and sweater
sets are appropriate business casual choices for women. Cotton, silk, and
blends are appropriate. Velvets and shimmery fabrics suitable for parties are
not appropriate. Fit should not be tight. Cleavage is not appropriate to
business and job search occasions.
- Jewelry / accessories:
Wear a conservative watch. Jewelry and scarf styles come and go. Keep your
choices simple and leaning toward conservative. Avoid extremes of style and
color. If your industry is creative, you may have more flexibility than someone
pursuing a conservative industry.
Keep makeup conservative and natural looking. A little is usually better than
none for a polished look. Nails should be clean and well groomed. Avoid
extremes of nail length and polish color, especially in conservative
Should be leather or fabric / microfiber. Appropriate colors are black, navy
and brown (to coordinate with your other attire and accessories); white and
pastels are not appropriate. For the most conservative look, toes should be
covered. Sandals which are neither extremely dressy or extremely casual might
be appropriate. Thin straps and high heels are not appropriate. Chunky heels
and platforms are not appropriate. Make certain you can walk comfortably in your
shoes; hobbling around a job fair in shoes that are pinching your feet does not
convey a professional image.
Not essential for business casual, but are recommended if your skirt is knee
length (rather than calf length) and in more formal environments such as
- Purse / bag:
If you carry a purse, keep it small and simple. Purse color should coordinate
with your shoes. A briefcase is certainly not necessary for most business
casual events. You may choose to carry a small briefcase or business-like tote
bag in place of a purse. Leather, microfiber and fine wovens are appropriate.
Canvas and straw are not appropriate.
Should be clean and neat.
Should be in polished condition. Make sure heels are not worn.
No missing buttons, no lint; and dont forget to remove external tags and
tacking stitches from new clothes.
Clothes should be clean, neatly pressed, and fit properly, neither tight nor
Perfume or cologne should be used sparingly or not at all.
No odors on clothes.
Don't smell like smoke.
Preferred over a bulky briefcase. A small briefcase is also appropriate, but if
you have no reason to carry a briefcase, don't; you risk looking silly.
Appropriate to carry to an information session held on campus (after all, you
are a student). For career fairs and job fairs, bookbags are generally checked
at the door, and you should carry a padfolio only.
Don't carry a bookbag to an event held at a hotel.
(What is it??)
- Business Casual dress in a business
setting may be khakis or similarly styled pants and a collared sport shirt or
sweater for men. For women, a dress or a skirt and blouse or sweater is
acceptable. In some business settings, pants are acceptable (although pants are
not advised for interviews). Casual dress shoes (e.g., small heels or flats for
women; loafers for men) may be worn. Click here for more
information on Business Casual Dress.