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How to Dress for Success: A Guide for Appropriate Business Attire

Have you ever had an internship interview or a business meeting, and did not know what to wear? Are you new to the business world and need to know the basics? From brand new interns to experienced upperclassmen with years of experience, Diana’s Dress Tips are here to help you learn or gain new ideas on what to wear in the work environment. Through the LEAD Professional Development Program, the Dress for Success Presentation teaches students everything they need to know about all things business attire. Through attending the presentation, I composed a series of tips that help students find their way and learn the dos and don’ts of business appropriate attire. 

Tip #1: Build Your Professional Wardrobe 

Invest in a timeless, neutral-colored suit. You should assess your current wardrobe, and buy clothes that accent what you currently own. These “filler” pieces can be worn with multiple outfits and styles. You should buy pieces that are versatile. When shopping for clothing, use the assistance of sales associates as they are employees that have experience with the clothing you are shopping for.

When shopping for business attire buy the essential pieces. For women, buy a pencil skirt or trousers pants. To complete the outfit, you should also buy a matching blazer. Buy quality, staple blouses and button-down shirts. In addition to the outfit, one should have neutral shoes and a simple belt and handbag. 

Tip #2: Know the Differences in the styles of Business Attire

There are four different levels of business attire: business professional, business ready, business casual, and casual dress.

Business professional consists of a suit or matching pant/skirt and jacket combination. The set should be in neutral colors such as navy, charcoal gray, or black. The patterns should be muted, and the style should be conservative. The top should be a blouse or shirt. It can be a button-up, shell, or fashion blouse, and should be long-sleeved. Shoes should be classy, closed toes with a heel no greater than four inches. 

Business ready is one change away from a business professional. Keep a neutral colored jacket, a pair of polished shoes, and, for men, a neutral tie to be ready in minutes. 

Business casual is a blouse or dress shirt with or without a tie. You can wear slacks, khakis, skirts, or a dress. Shoes should be conservative and business professionals.

  The casual dress consists of comfortable informal wear such as jeans, casual pants, cotton tops, or polos. Shoes can include tennis shoes, sandals, or heels. 

Tip #3: Know the Workplace policies

When you begin to work at a company or attend a Villanova event, you should know the atmosphere and the policies that the institution upholds. Tattoos and piercings should be covered. Women should limit visible piercings to one hole in each ear. To be sure you should check workplace guidelines on rules regarding tattoos, piercings, or hair colors. 

Tip #4: Maintain proper hygiene

Hygiene is an essential part of your appearance and contributes to a first impression. When going to work make sure your nails are clean or painted a natural color. You should keep up with oral hygiene by brushing your teeth, and you should avoid heavily scented perfume or cologne. While the policies vary, men should keep facial hair trimmed and lines clean. For more information and tips on maintaining hygiene visit

Additional Tips from Professionals:

  • Get clothing tailored to fit properly
  • Replace the old or cheap buttons 
  • Only wear pieces in “like new” condition
  • Spot clean clothing so that it lasts longer 
  • Buy a steamer to easily de-wrinkle clothing 
  • Invest in foundation pieces 

For additional clarification and tips on professional business attire visit

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