Business Casual Dress Guide for Students

Job Shadow

Job Interview

College Interview


All scenarios where a student will find themself in a professional setting with adults and wanting to make a positive impression. That’s a lot of pressure! Few students know how to dress for such events, but they know their typical outfits won’t cut it.

What Not to Wear in Professional Settings

Your daily wear for a class is not likely to cut it. The must avoid list includes leggings, shorts, casual shoes like flip-flops or tennis shoes, and shirts with print on them. Those are probably easy to figure out.

Also, pay close attention to the appearance and cleanliness of your clothes. Don’t wear something that is ripped, stained, or wrinkled. This can easily happen when you don’t plan ahead. Pick out your outfit well in advance, so you can clean it and iron it if necessary. Yes, I said iron which in my book is an essential adulting skill!

Showing too much skin is also a no-no and this can vary on what it means. For females, low-cut shirts or one that when your arms are lifted show a mid-drift are a definite no. Taking it one step further and avoiding sleeveless shirts as well as toes showing is also wise when playing it safe to all audiences. It’s okay to wear a sleeveless shirt IF the skin is covered by another layer.

Jeans….what’s one to do?! In many workplaces and professional settings, jeans are acceptable these days. However, unless you are told in advance that jeans are acceptable, don’t wear them when making a first impression is the best advice. If you do find that jeans are acceptable, they should be a dark rinse and not ripped.

What Guys Should Wear

 The shirt should be a button-down or polo shirt and pants either khakis and dress pants. A sport coat or tie is unnecessary but can set you apart in some more formal situations. No tennis shoes! Wear a loafer and a belt. 

What Ladies Should Wear

 Dresses, skirts, or dress pants are all acceptable and one choice is not better than the others. Wear what you are most comfortable in as your comfort and confidence in your outfit will shine through. On the top, have arms covered. Wearing a blouse or sweater is perfect. It’s not necessary to wear a jacket, however, if you choose a sleeveless top be sure to add a jacket or sweater. Your shoes should be flat or heels, but not so high that you’ll need to concentrate on your balance while walking. 

Zoom Dress Code

We’ve all seen the hysterical spoofs where the person is in a virtual meeting only to stand up and be like a work mullet…professional on top and casual on the bottom. While it makes for a great laugh, the work mullet isn’t recommended in this setting. And it’s not because someone might figure out you are bottom casual.

My recommendation is to dress the part head to toe even when virtual. By dressing professional, your mindset and the confidence you put off will be professional. Dress for the part you want, even if on Zoom!