How to dress for business occasions

Brittney Sutherin, manager of the career closet, stands for a picture in the newly renovated space. The career closet is a place for students to come and borrow business attire for interviews, internships, and jobs. The career closet offers many different sizes and options for students. Photo from Brittney Sutherin.

According to a Harvard Study of Communications, 55% of a first-impression is strictly visual. Learning how to dress properly within a professional atmosphere can be intimidating for many people entering the business field. 

Whether you land your dream job, have an interview, or give a presentation, it’s important to know how to dress for the occasion. 

“One thing I’ve learned throughout my time at Seton Hill is that being dressed appropriately makes someone stand out,” said Brittney Sutherin, manager of the Seton Hill Career Closet. “Dressing for business occasions can be hard. It’s always better to be overdressed rather than underdressed.  Wear the tie, tuck your shirt in. First impressions are everything.”  

As time progresses and the business-world continues to evolve, the way one is expected to dress for professional occasions changes as well.  There are a variety of levels to business attire, ranging from business formal to business-professional to business-casual.  

There are many interpretations of each of these, so it’s easy to look under or overdressed. Below are bullets of some appropriate attire for business occasions.

Last February, Seton Hill introduced the Career Closet, which is a service provided at no cost that allows students to receive gently used, casual and professional clothing for things such as conferences, interviews, presentations, or internships.  

Since the original opening, Sutherin has been working hard to improve the Career Closet. When it first opened, the closet consisted of three racks of mostly pants, shoes, and jackets.

“I wanted to utilize as much space as possible, so I created a budget proposal in order to make the necessary improvements,” Sutherin said.

Sutherin with her team installed new racks in the closet and second room for storage was opened where we keep a wide variety of sizes to ensure there is something to accommodate everyone.

“All students are welcome to utilize the Career Closet,” Sutherin said. “The Career Closet isn’t like a thrift shop because we hand select the clothes that would be most appropriate for the closet. Some of the clothes still have the tags on them, and the volunteers will even steam the clothing for students.” 

The Career Closet is currently open on Monday and Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.. Students can also book appointments at any time through the Career Closet website, which can be accessed through MySHU.  

If you’d like to volunteer or learn more about the career closet, you can send an email to careercloset@setonhill.edu.

Business apparel tips for women:

  • Business casual-
    • Collared shirt, sweater, or blouse
    • Khaki or dress pants
    • Closed-toe flats
  • Business professional-
    • Suit (pants or skirt) with blazer
    • Neutral pantyhose
    • Close toe-heels or flats
  • Business formal-
    • Suit with skirt or length-appropriate dress
    • Dark or neutral pantyhose
    • Closed-toe heels

Business apparel tips for men:

  • Business casual-
    • Collard shirt, sweater, & polo
    • Khaki or dress pants
    • Leather shoes & belt
  • Business professional-
    • Dark colored suit
    • Conservative tie
    • Dress shoes
  • Business formal-
    • Black suit
    • Silk tie
    • Pocket square

*In print, Brittney Sutherin’s name was misspelt. The error has been corrected.*

Published by Caitlin Srager

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