Dress Code Guidelines for Women

Pants / skirts:

Women can wear casual pants or skirts. Neither should be tight. Fabrics should be crisp; colors should generally be solid; navy, black, gray, brown and khaki are always safe bets. For the most business-like appearance, pants should be creased and tailored; neither extreme of tight or flowing. If you are pursuing a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well-dressed women in your industry on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, or consult your career coach.

Skirt length and slits:

Your skirt should come at least to your knees while you are standing. While you are seated, your thighs should be covered. If your skirt comes to just below the knee, a slit to just above the knee might be acceptable. A very long skirt should not be slit to above the knee. Generally slits in the center back of a skirt — to facilitate walking a stair climbing — are acceptable. Slits to facilitate a view of your legs are not appropriate for business purposes. Slips should not be visible.

Shirt / sweaters:

In addition to tailored shirts or blouses, tailored knit sweaters and sweater sets are appropriate business casual choices for women. Cotton, silk, and blends are appropriate. Velvets and shimmery fabrics suitable for parties are not appropriate. Fit should not be tight. Cleavage is not appropriate to business and job search occasions.

Jewelry / accessories: 

Keep your watch and jewelry choices simple and leaning toward conservative. Avoid extremes of style and color. If your industry is creative, you may have more flexibility than someone pursuing a conservative industry.

Cosmetics: 

Keep makeup conservative and natural looking. A little is usually better than none for a polished look. Nails should be clean and well groomed. Avoid extremes of nail length and polish color, especially in conservative industries.

Shoes:

Should be leather or fabric / microfiber. Appropriate colors are black, navy, brown, tan, taupe (to coordinate with your other attire and accessories). For the most conservative look, toes should be covered. Sandals which are neither extremely dressy nor extremely casual might be appropriate. Excessive straps and spike heels are not appropriate. Chunky heels and platforms are not appropriate. Your choices reflect your judgment. Make certain you can walk comfortably in your shoes.

Hose:

Not essential for business casual, but are recommended if your skirt is knee length (rather than calf length) and in more formal environments such as hotels. Climate and weather can be a factor. Hose may not be expected in hot climates/weather and in less conservative industries. Hose may be expected in more conservative industries.

Purse / bag:

If you carry a purse, keep it simple, or carry a small briefcase or business-like tote bag in place of a purse. A structured bag tends to look more professional than something soft or floppy. Purse/bag color should coordinate with your shoes if possible.

Business professional attire is the most conservative type of business wear. It’s what you’ll be expected to wear in the office if you work in accounting, finance, or other conservative industries. For women, this means a business suit or pant suit, or dress and jacket. For men, professional dress means a business suit or a blazer, dress pants and a tie. Remember: it’s always better to be over dressed than under dressed.

Suits: 

Suits are always a safe bet when dressing for a business professional environment. Pant suits or skirt suits are both acceptable. Well-tailored suits in conservative colors/prints are best (black, navy blue, and brown).

Pants / skirts: 

Women can wear casual pants or skirts. Neither should be tight. Fabrics should be crisp; colors should generally be solid; navy, black, gray, brown and khaki are always safe bets. For the most business-like appearance, pants should be creased and tailored; neither extreme of tight or flowing. If you are pursuing a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well-dressed women in your industry on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, or consult your career coach.

Skirt length and slits: 

Your skirt should come at least to your knees while you are standing. While you are seated, your thighs should be covered. If your skirt comes to just below the knee, a slit to just above the knee might be acceptable. A very long skirt should not be slit to above the knee. Generally slits in the center back of a skirt — to facilitate walking a stair climbing — are acceptable. Slits to facilitate a view of your legs are not appropriate for business purposes. Slips should not be visible.

Jackets: 

A jacket should always be a part of your business professional wardrobe. Be sure it has a tailored fit in a conservative color/print. If you are wearing a long sleeved shirt underneath, the jacket sleeve should hit the wrist just above the long sleeve so you can see the shirt sleeve peek out just a bit.

Shirts: 

Wear tailored shirts or blouses in cotton, silk for a blend. Fit should not be tight. Cleavage is not appropriate to business and job search occasions. No sweaters should be worn for business professional occasions.

Jewelry / accessories: 

Keep your watch and jewelry choices simple and leaning toward conservative. Avoid extremes of style and color. If your industry is creative, you may have more flexibility than someone pursuing a conservative industry.

Cosmetics: 

Keep makeup conservative and natural looking. A little is usually better than none for a polished look. Nails should be clean and well groomed. Avoid extremes of nail length and polish color, especially in conservative industries.

Shoes:

Should be leather or fabric / microfiber. Appropriate colors are black, navy, brown, tan, taupe (to coordinate with your other attire and accessories). For the most conservative look, toes should be covered. Excessive straps and spike heels are not appropriate. Chunky heels and platforms are not appropriate. Your choices reflect your judgment. Make certain you can walk comfortably in your shoes.

Hose:

Not essential for business casual, but are recommended if your skirt is knee length (rather than calf length) and in more formal environments such as hotels. Climate and weather can be a factor. Hose may not be expected in hot climates/weather and in less conservative industries. Hose may be expected in more conservative industries.

Purse / bag: 

If you carry a purse, keep it simple, or carry a small briefcase or business-like tote bag in place of a purse. A structured bag tends to look more professional than something soft or floppy. Purse/bag color should coordinate with your shoes if possible. Backpacks should not be a part of your wardrobe in any situation. Please leave then in your locker, home or in the car.

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