by Katie Kennedy, ’18:

If you’re like me, one question you always struggle with is “what should I wear today?” This often has infinite answers, which for me often involve glitter, an excess of denim, or brightly colored tights. Recently, I’ve been asking myself this question before I attend more professional events, such as a job interview or meetings with professionals in my field of interest.

This results in varying answers, usually involving much less glitter.

There are many rules (unspoken and spoken) regarding professional wear in different settings. What is business casual? What is business professional? What do I wear when I’m not sure which is preferred?

I’ve compiled some tips and examples to help your outfit look right at home during your next networking event or interview.

Business Professional

This is probably the easiest code to follow. This is acceptable in most situations, due to its more formal professionalism. You could wear this in a setting such as a law office, job interview, or situations in which you’re not sure what else to wear. Remember, it is always more appropriate to dress up than down!

Some examples of what you could wear when the occasion calls for business professional are:

  • Tailored slacks
  • Collared shirt
  • Tie
  • Dress (no shorter than two inches above the knee)
  • Blazer
  • Silk blouse
  • Pencil skirt
  • Hosiery

Here, junior Ashley Sorensen is modeling what she wore to a recent interview.

Business Casual

This is more of a flexible code. This often varies from workplace to workplace, and can take some time to navigate what is and isn’t appropriate. Until you’re sure of what is acceptable, be sure to avoid things like jeans and sneakers, and other hyper casual attire.

Some examples of what you could wear when a situation calls for business casual are:

  • cardigan
  • printed/ fun dress/ skirt
  • polo shirt
  • khakis
  • closed toed (low heel) shoes


In this picture, Political Science and Health and Society Professor Rongal Nikora is wearing a more personal, casual outfit that is appropriate to wear after you navigate what the workplace expectations are at your place of work. He looks professional and put together, but not stuffy.


Undefined Business Code

If you’re attending an event and you’re not sure what the dress code is, err on the more conservative, professional side. Skirts/ dresses shouldn’t be more than an inch or two above the knee, tops shouldn’t be too low cut or tight, and makeup should be kept natural and fresh looking. Cargo pants, short sleeve shirts, shorts, and white socks should also be avoided.


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