Dressing to Impress: Fashion Tips for New College Grads

By Sharon Mosley

June 11, 2019 5 min read

It's no surprise that it's a tough job market for recent college grads, but it may be a surprise to find out that how you dress for an interview can make the difference between being hired or not.

"Now, more than ever, college graduates seeking good jobs need more than a stellar resume," says Kyle Alexandra Moreland, founder of Kyle Alexandra, a Massachusetts-based wardrobe and styling company, and author of the guide "Inspiring Confidence for the New College Grad."

"Top-quality organizations want to hire employees who know how to dress for the workplace. In this highly competitive marketplace, a graduate from a prestigious university, with excellent grades and a compelling personality, who is unaware of correct interview attire and protocol, might never have the opportunity to exhibit those talents and skills. Life is not a dress rehearsal, and young working professionals need knowledge and guidance to learn what is appropriate and inappropriate for the interview and the workplace."

Here are some of Moreland's style tips for guys and gals on how to dress professionally:

— Be sure not to wear very bright colors or overaccessorize for an interview. Keep your outfit conservative, classic, simple and elegant. You can't go wrong with a dark classic-cut suit. If possible, purchase all three pieces — jacket, skirt and pants. When it comes to accessories, minimal is best; a single strand of pearls is classic and always in style. A classic pair of black pumps is an absolute essential for female professionals, so invest in the best you can afford. Pumps should never be more than 2 1/2 inches for an interview or any other work-related event.

— For the guys, Moreland suggests never showing up to an interview wearing non-matching suit pieces. She advises wearing a navy suit with brown wingtip shoes and choosing a tie that is classic, like one with stripes. Grey and pinstriped suits are other good alternatives worn with black oxfords. When you want to put some personality in your office attire, try combining uniquely patterned shirts and colorful ties. And always carry a black leather briefcase or portfolio for resumes, notebooks and umbrellas.

— If you want to add some visual interest, Moreland suggests women add one terrific accessory — not fishnet stockings, but perhaps a statement necklace or scarf. She also suggests adding separates to stretch your suit looks. "Try a patterned jacket, skirt or pants to pair with your three-piece suit," she says. "You can mix and match all the pieces to create dozens of outfits."

— When jeans are part of the office dress code, Moreland advises choosing dark wash jeans for work on Fridays and pairing them with ballet flats. "Be sure to wear the most flattering style for your body type," she says, because "even if certain jeans are trendy, they might not be the most flattering. Boot-cut jeans are universally flattering on all body types." And she cautions: "Never wear jeans which are ripped or feature overly decorative back pockets."

— For the guys, casual Fridays at the office can also be a time to show off jeans. She suggests choosing dark wash straight-leg denim jeans that are not too tight, too short or too loose and pairing them with a plaid button-down sport shirt. And always "be certain to match your belt to your shoes!"

— And one tip for all professionals — "Never wear running shoes to commute to and from work," says Moreland. There are plenty of more fashionable "sneaker-inspired shoes" to get you ahead in the workplace.

College grads can't go wrong with a dark classic suit for job interviews. Shown: Brooks Brothers navy pinstripe suit.
College grads can't go wrong with a dark classic suit for job interviews. Shown: Brooks Brothers navy pinstripe suit.

To find out more about Sharon Mosley, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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