Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Dress For Success

Do you know what to wear to your upcoming interview or professional event?

Understanding Culture

So....do you really need to wear a black suit, carry a leather portfolio or hide your piercings? There is no absolute answer to this question; you will need to consider where it is you are interviewing and, in some cases, for which position you are interviewing. Some organizations such as banks, federal agencies and consulting firms are very traditional and require conservative attire. Organizations in other fields, such as the arts, entertainment, environmentalism and nonprofit management may be less traditional, however this does not necessarily mean that as an interviewee you can dress casually. If you are unaware of the culture of the organization, unsure of how to dress or concerned about making a good first-impression, it's best to err on the side of caution and dress professionally for any interview - even if you are the best dressed person in the building.

Follow our general guidelines and you'll be dressed for success in any interview.

Career & Internship Fair Attire

Please note that you will not be allowed entrance at the career & internship fair without the proper attire. Jeans, shorts, flip flops, running shoes/sneakers are prohibited. You must be dressed professionally or at a minimum, business casual. If you are attending a career fair at the School of Business, please refer to their attire guide for dress requirements. 

Types of Business Attire

Do you find the different types of attire confusing? And do you wonder where you should wear what? Here is a general overview.

  • Business Formal: banquets, special ceremonies and events; conservative yet elegant

  • Business Professional: interviews and most formal business events; items match in style, fabric, and color

  • Business Casual: information sessions and less formal occasions; jackets are optional, skirts ok

  • Baseline Casual: co-curricular/extracurricular activities; tops with skirt or slacks; casual yet modest

Business Professional

Jackets, Pants, Skirts & Suits

dress mbus
  • Fabrics: wool, wool blends and polyester blends.

  • Colors: black, navy blue, charcoal grey and dark brown.
  • Guidelines: color and fabric should match; two and three-button suits are acceptable; button color should match fabric; avoid jackets with vents; should fit well (alter if needed).

Shirts & Blouses

  • Fabrics: silk blends, cotton blends and polyester blends.

  • Colors: white and light blue.

  • Guidelines: shirts should have long sleeves; cuffs on sleeves are best; well-defined or high collars are best.

Footwear

  • Fabrics: leather and leather imitation.

  • Colors: black, dark brown and dark grey.

  • Guidelines: match color/color family of suit; should be comfortable; should be cleaned and polished; 2.5-inch heels or shorter acceptable.

Business Casual

Jackets, Pants, Skirts & Suits

cas mcash
  • Fabrics: linen, silk/silk blends, cotton blends and polyester blends.

  • Colors: black, grey, tan, Earth tones, and solid colors.

  • Guidelines: top-bottom colors may differ; soft collars acceptable; buttons may be light colors.

Shirts, Sweaters, Polos and Blouses

  • Fabrics: cotton, silk/silk blends and knits.
  • Colors: black, dark shades, ivory and pastels (spring and summer).

  • Guidelines: shirts and polos should be collared; shirts should be button-down; shirts should have long sleeves; short sleeves are ok for sweater and polo.

Footwear

  • Fabrics: leather and leather imitation.

  • Colors: black, brown, grey and tan.

  • Guidelines: should be comfortable; should be cleaned and polished; 2.5-inch heels or shorter acceptable.

Grooming & Accessories

  • Hair: conservatively styled Nails: well-trimmed, neat

  • Cologne/Perfume: none or very light/natural

  • Ties: patterns are ok, no animations

  • Socks: light-weight, match to pants
  • Makeup: neutral colors

  • Earrings: studs (gold, silver, stone, etc)


  • Hosiery: skin tone, no fishnet/patterns
  • Rings: limit to one per hand

  • Watch: gold/silver, leather band ok

  • Briefcase: dark, leather preferred

  • Portfolio: dark, leather preferred

  • Belt: simple buckle, limit to one-inch, must match shoes

Things to Avoid

  • Loud colors (clothes/shoes, jewelry, make-up, hair)
  • Casual wear (jeans, t-shirts, tank tops)
  • Floral, plaid or other "busy" designs
  • Shorts, capri pants, and short skirts
  • Mismatched clothing (fabrics, colors, patterns)
  • Wrinkled, untucked, pilled or linty clothing
  • Tattered, faded, stained or dirty clothing
  • Revealing fabrics
  • Plastic or crafty jewelry, including earrings
  • Excessive jewelry
  • Cleavage, chest hair
  • Strong odors (perfumes, colognes, smoke, garlic)
  • Visible body art (tattoos, bodmod)
  • Open-toed footwear and athletic shoes

Resources

  • Henderson, V. & Henshaw, P. "Image Matters for Men," Great Britain: Hamlyn.
  • Molley, J.T. "New Dress for Success," New York: Warner Book, Inc.
  • Molley, J.T. "New Women's Dress for Succes," New York: Business Plus.
  • Pease, Allen & Barbara. "The Definitive Book of Body Language," New York: Bantam Books.
  • Scumaci, D. "Designed for Success," Florida: Excel Books.
  • The Wall Street Journal, "Excel At The Job: First-Year Analyst Dress Code"

Questions?

Make an appointment with a career coach to discuss any questions that you may have about what to wear...and what not to wear: 512-471-7900.



  •   Map
  • Liberal Arts Career Services

    University of Texas at Austin
    FAC 18
    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508
    512-471-7900