The Catholic University of America

Job Fair Attire for Men and Women

The ideal is interview attire, but if your wardrobe is limited, "business casual" will do.

Interview Attire

Always present a neat, well-groomed, and professional appearance during interviews. How you dress may depend upon the job for which you are applying; however, you don't want to assume one setting is necessarily more casual than the other. It is probably best to stick with a suit regardless of where you are going UNLESS you have received specific information to the contrary.

Interview Attire for Women:
  • Suit: In most interview settings, it is recommended that women wear suits in plain, neutral, or dark colors (black, navy, brown, grey). In organizations that are less formal (possibly non-profit, education), one might consider a sweater set and skirt, or a dress, rather than a full suit. Skirts should be knee-length. Tailored pantsuits are appropriate.

  • Shirt: Wear a tailored blouse underneath the suit jacket. White or ivory or a light tone that matches your suit is appropriate. Short-sleeved blouses are preferred over sleeveless blouses.

  • Shoes and Hosiery: Basic pumps, polished, with medium to low heels are appropriate; they should be dark and match the interview suit (or be a shade darker). Hosiery should be sheer and a neutral color.

  • Jewelry: Simple jewelry is best, with no dangling bracelets or large, chunky jewelry to interrupt your conversation.

  • Cologne, Cosmetics: Be conservative with perfume and makeup; when in a small space, even a little perfume may be too much, particularly if someone has an allergy, so consider not wearing any. Nail polish should be a light shade or clear.

  • Hair: Styling should be simple and should not distract from your focus on the interview.

  • Backpack: If you can go to the interview without your backpack, do so. Carry a portfolio with a notepad, copies of your resume, a pen, and any other pertinent information. If you are also carrying a purse, keep it small.

Interview Attire for Men:
  •  Suit: In most interviews, it is recommended that men where dark or grey suits (solid or subtle pinstripes). In organizations that are less formal, possibly non-profit, education), one might consider a blazer, shirt, and tie rather than a full suit.

  • Shirt: Dress shirts should be solid, preferably white, cream, or pale blue. Be sure that the shirt and suit are pressed/ ironed.

  • Tie: A variety of ties may be worn, keeping in mind that muted colors in solids, stripes, or small patterns are preferred.
  • Shoes and Socks: Make sure that your shoes are polished. Leather, lace-up, or slip-on business shoes, preferably in black or cordovan, are preferred. Socks should be a dark color (never white) and of mid-calf height so that no skin is visible when you sit down.
  • Cologne: Minimize or avoid that use of cologne; many interviews take place in small spaces, and if your interviewer is allergic, it could lead to an unpleasantly short interview!
  • Hair and Facial Hair: Neatly groomed hair is appropriate. If you happen to have long hair, consider putting it in a ponytail to keep it off your face. Beards and mustaches should be well groomed. 
  • Jewelry: Wear a conservative watch. If you choose to wear other jewelry, be conservative. Be aware that earrings may not always be viewed positively. 
  • Backpack: If you can go to the interview without one, do so. Carry a portfolio with a notepad, copies of your resume, a pen, and any other pertinent information. 

Business Casual Guidelines for Men and Women

When you are specifically directed to wear business casual or think that this attire is in order, follow these guidelines.

  • Pants: Khaki pants, neatly pressed, and a pressed, long-sleeved buttoned solid shirt are safe business casual for both men and women.
  • Shirts: Polo shorts are an appropriate choice if you know the environment will be quite casual, outdoors, or in a very hot location. 
  • Shoes/ Belt: Be sure to wear a belt and shoes that are in good condition. Athletic shoes and flip flops are not acceptable.

Specifics for Women's Business Casual:
 
  • Pants/ Skirts: Women can wear casual pants or skirts. For the most businesslike appearance, pants should be tailored. A knee-length skirt is preferable although a long skirt may be considered.
  • Shirt/ Sweaters/ Jackets: In addition to tailored shirts or blouses, tailored knit sweaters and sweater sets are appropriate business casual choices for women. A tailored jacket may also be worn. 
  • Shoes and Hosiery: Closed-toe shoes, sandals which are neither extremely dressy nor extremely casual are appropriate. Regardless of what is in style, avoid extreme. Make certain you can walk comfortably in your shoes. Hosiery should be considered with skirts.
  • Cologne, Hair, Jewelry, Backpack: For appropriate attire, review the suggestions above under Interview Attire.

Specifics for Men's Business Casual:

 

  • Ties: Ties are generally not necessary for business casual, but if you are in doubt, you can wear a tie.

  • Shirts: Long-sleeved shirts are considered dressier than short-sleeved and are appropriate even in summer. Choosing white or light blue solid, or conservative stripes is your safest bet. Polo shirts (tucked in, of course) are acceptable in more casual situations.

  • Socks: Do wear dark socks, mid-calf length so no skin is visible when you sit down.

  • Shoes: Shoes that are in good condition should be worn. NO sandals, athletic shoes, or hiking boots.

  • Cologne, Hair, Jewelry, Backpack: For appropriate attire, review the suggestions above under Interview Attire.