How to dress professionally

First impressions can make or break you, especially in a professional setting. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, then you must look the part.  Here are some keys to make sure you are walking the walk. 

1. Kick the jeans

Denim should be nowhere to be found in a professional setting.  At minimum, a long-sleeve button-down dress shirt, dress slacks, and a tie should be worn.  Whenever possible, a suit coat or sport jacket should also be worn. If you do not know how to tie a tie, there are plenty of videos online that will show you.

2. Make the cut

Dress clothes lose all professionalism and style when are too big or too small.  If your clothes do not fit to your current body type, pay the nominal fee to have them tailored.  Your dad’s or older brother’s hand-me-down suits can be a good thing, but not if they are 5 inches taller and 60 lbs. heavier than you.  Dress shirts are measured by neck size (generally 15 to 18 inches) and arm length (generally 30 to 36 inches).

3. Keep it simple

This is not the time to break out the Tabasco tie or the neon orange shirt.  Remember that business is generally conservative which means dark suit (black, dark grey, or dark blue), simple color shirt (white or blue), and conservative tie (solid color or striped).

4. Polish and match

Men, learn how to polish your dress shoes. A recent study showed that an increasing number of employers looked at a man’s dress shoes as a way to gauge his level of attention to detail.  A simple $4 can of shoe polish can go a long way. Don’t even think about wearing sneakers! Remember — your shoes should match your belt (same color) and your socks should match your slacks (same color).

5. Clean and crisp

Make sure your clothes are clean and free of spots.  Just because you have not worn your suit since your uncle’s wedding 10 months ago, does not mean it is clean.  Also remember to iron your pants and shirt.  Don’t know how to iron?  The nearest dry cleaner can clean and press your suit.  Your suit jacket or sport coat should be hung, if possible, or folded neatly in half (shoulder to shoulder, not neck to bottom of jacket) prior to it being worn to avoid wrinkles.

Now, go make that great first impression and don’t forget to thank your mom when you make your first million! 

Greg Mena, W. P. Carey Career Services

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