Dress For Success

Work places vary considerably in what’s acceptable dress. The guidelines below reflect a conservative approach to interview attire that will stand you in good stead most of the time. If you are interviewing in a creative field, such as advertising, public relations, fashion, graphic design, theater, or film—you can probably be a bit more creative with your outfit; but make some phone calls—Midd alums can be helpful here—to try to get a sense of the dress code. The same would hold true for organizations where fieldwork is the primary job activity. Use a bit of detective work and your good judgment. The career advisers in CCI are also available to offer "fashion advice" for your interview! 


  • A two-piece business suit (navy or other dark color).
  • Consistent look; avoid wearing a business suit with sandals or sneakers.
  • Well-groomed hairstyle: avoid unusual styles or colors.
  • Minimal cologne or perfume.
  • No visible body piercing, including multiple earrings in one ear.
  • No more than one ring on each hand: wedding/engagement ring acceptable.
  • No visible body art; cover tattoos with clothing if possible.
  • Breath mints; use one before greeting recruiter.


  • White, off-white, or neutral-colored blouse with a conservative neckline.
  • Suit with a skirt preferable to a pantsuit.
  • Avoid ill-fitting (short, tight, clingy, or slit) skirts; no higher than one to two inches above the knee when standing.
  • Closed-toe leather pumps with low to medium heels; avoid open-toe strapped high heels, sandals, or shoes with decorations.
  • Skin-colored hosiery.
  • Briefcase or portfolio in place of a handbag or purse.
  • Understated makeup.
  • Small stud earrings instead of dangling or over-sized earrings.
  • Long hair pulled back in neat, simple style; no elaborate styles.


  • Long-sleeved broadcloth shirt in white or light blue.
  • Conservative necktie in color and pattern: avoid cartoon characters, less-than-serious graphics, or theme ties.
  • High-fitting dark socks; avoid light colored socks with a dark suit.
  • Business-style leather shoes.
  • Match shoe and belt color; don't mix black and brown.
  • Briefcase or portfolio, no backpack.



Attire for employment will generally be either "business" or "business casual." If employers tell you that the dress is business casual, then you should use the following dress code. If you're not sure, ask.

Men—Appropriate Business Casual

Business casual means khakis, chinos, or gabardine trousers and a collared shirt for men, either polo-style or button-down. Ties are optional, with wool or cotton sweaters, trousers, and loafers with dark, coordinated trouser socks being fairly common.

Men—Business Casual No-No's:
T-shirts and jeans (worn together), dirty sneakers, sandals, no belt (and your pants have belt loops), shirttail out, caps (baseball), active wear (jogging suits, wind suits, outdoor wear, camouflage fabrics, military fatigues, hiking boots, etc.).

Women—Appropriate Business Casual

For women, the guidelines are similar to those for men. Higher heels are no longer as popular as they used to be. Slacks, skirts, and city shorts (top of the knee), and tops with coordinating vests or wool or cotton sweaters. Flat leather shoes with dark, coordinating trouser socks are appropriate.

Women—Business Casual No-No's:
Poorly coordinated outfits, humorous attire or accessories, leggings or stirrup pants, casual and short shorts, ultra-short skirts, no hosiery or socks, camisoles, sportswear, T-shirts, jeans, sweats, athletic shoes, or thong-like "flip-flop" sandals.


Other helpful resources for How to Dress for Your Interview