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Professional Attire: What to Wear to the Fair

By Rachel Williams & Kate Grove

We’ve brought this popular blog back for some helpful suggestions about what to wear to our upcoming career fair! If you’re attending (and you should), make sure you dress to impress in the right outfit! Check out these pictures for some suggestions on “what to wear to the fair.”

Also, here are some additional tips and suggestions to think about when dressing for a job fair.


No club attire – meaning, if you wear it to a club, it probably does not belong in a workplace environment

Suit:  2-piece and matching

Pant OR skirt:

Pant:  tailored, and not too tight

Skirt:  Should cover thighs when seated, and no high slits

Colors:  navy, black, dark brown or gray

Shirt:  tailored and solid color or small print that matches suit and no cleavage

Jewelry:  conservative watch is always a good idea.

Makeup:  keep it conservative, and a little is usually better than none

Nails:  clean and well-groomed, and no extreme lengths and/or colors

Shoes:  close-toed pumps are always a smart choice.  Avoid stilettos or chunky platforms.  And for those who are not the heel-wearing type, simple, leather, close-toed flats are fine as well.

Purse OR brief bag:

Purse:  keep it small and simple, color should match shoes

Brief bag:  leather or micro-fiber, and avoid any tote-ish looking items


Suit:  2-piece and matching.  Avoid a jacket that does not match the pant

Color:  navy and dark gray are always the safe choices

Tie:  a quality silk tie with a simple, small pattern

Shirt:  long-sleeved shirts (even in the summer!) in white, light-blue solid or conservative stripes

Socks:  dark socks (navy for brown shoes & black for black shoes) that are mid-calf length

Shoes:  leather lace-ups or slip-ons, black or dark brown (invest in a nice pair; you’ll get your money back over the years, promise!)

Belt:  leather and must match your shoes (black with black and brown with brown)

Facial hair:  if worn, keep it well-groomed

Jewelry:  conservative watch and no earrings


Hair:  out of the face, clean, and neat

Lint:  use a lint roller and remove it from your suit

Wrinkles:  iron them out of the shirt! The dry-cleaning bill (usually you can get a student discount) is worth a possible job offer.

Perfume/Cologne:  use sparingly, if at all.  Don’t smell like smoke either!

Pad folio:  usually looks more professional than taking notes and holding papers in a two-pocket folder or anything else.

Book bag:  NEVER!

I hope some of these tips help.  Bear in mind, that while you may not dress this way on a regular basis if you’re working in a more casual environment, it still makes the best impression to show up dressed this way for a job fair. Still need some help figuring out what to “wear to the fair?” Check out some more guidelines for professional dress provided by UNC Charlotte’s University Career Center here. Also, take a look at this YouTube video for these students’ take on professional dress — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbrdG638JjM

Source:  “Interview Appearance and Attire” http://www.career.vt.edu/interviewing/InterviewAppearance.html

Leave a comment


  1. Philip Brown

     /  August 21, 2011

    Excellent choice with George “Dapper Dan man” Clooney. XD That guy’s so sharp it probably hurts slightly to be him.

    Two caveats though, I think that socks would be better matched to the suit rather than to the shoe. A darker shade of the color always looks good, e.g. midnight blue socks with a navy suit, or charcoal with gray. Secondly, brown shoes or slip-ons to an interview might come off as a little informal. Black lace-ups seem a safer choice.

    I’d also add a couple of things for guys, not covered. For shirts, avoid casual button down collars and with your watch, if possible match the band color to your belt and shoes. Above all though, don’t buy jackets two sizes too big so that it looks like you’re wearing your older brother’s hand-me-downs.

  2. Excellent advise Philip, Thanks! By the way everyone, we have a how to work a job fair on September 13th from 1-2pm at 150 Atkins. Come check it out before the Job Fair on the 16th.

  3. It says” Book bag: NEVER! ”
    but what if you are going to the info session direct from the class?

  4. Information Sessions and Job Fairs are a bit different. If you are going to an information session and you can’t drop off your book bag in your dorm or car then as long as your dressed professionally and your book bag is neat, not full of writing and pins, then it is okay. For job fairs- do not bring it at all. Leave it at the check in if you have too.

  5. John

     /  September 11, 2012

    Are Khakis and a blazer acceptable?

    • Sorry for the delay- no Khakis and a blazer are not acceptable for the career expo but business casual is acceptable for the part time career fair on Oct. 2nd

  1. How To Work A Job Fair | University Career Center at UNC Charlotte Blog
  2. How To Work the Expo – Tips for Before, During, and After « University Career Center at UNC Charlotte Blog
  3. Business Casual Dress for the Part-time Job Fair « University Career Center at UNC Charlotte Blog

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