The Center for Life Beyond Reed

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Dressing for the Interview

The wardrobe you have here at Reed College may be very different than what you will need in the world of work. In fact, venturing into the world of work may be cause for a drastic shift in your wardrobe.

No matter what your style, it is best to err on the conservative side when interviewing for a new job. However, each company will have its own guidelines, so it is important to know your future or potential employer before you meet them. How liberal or conservative is the dress code? When in doubt, a suit is the best bet for both men and women. Some basic guidelines:


Clothes: A two-piece suit will suffice in most instances. Solid colors and tighter-woven fabrics are safer than bold prints or patterns. Bright ties bring focus to the face, but a simple pattern is best for an interview.

Shoes: Wear polished shoes with socks high enough so no skin is visible when you sit down and cross your legs.

Hair: Clean, neat recently trimmed. Shave or trim facial hair. Pull back longer hair or dredlocks.

Jewelry: Probably only one pierced ear is acceptable, depending on the job and the field. Piercings other than ears may be okay once you have the job, but probably aren't safe for the interview. If you are going to wear a watch, wear a dress watch.

Smells: Be clean and wear deodorant. Go light on aftershave/cologne/aromatic oils. You want them to listen to your words, not think about how you smell.


Clothes: A suit with a knee-length skirt and a tailored blouse is most appropriate. Although even the most conservative organizations allow more feminine looks these days, accessories should be kept simple. Basic pumps and modest jewelry and makeup help to present a professional look. Pants are more acceptable now but are not recommended for interviews unless you are positive that they would be appropriate.

Hair: Clean, neat recently trimmed. If you fiddle with it or it gets in your way, pull it back or off your face. Regular colors are more widely accepted. If you have dreds, pull them back or wear a headband/scarf.

Jewelry: In most cases, wear small, unobtrusive jewelry (earrings, necklace, watch etc.), unless you are going for a "creative" job. No noisy bracelets, bangles, etc. Piercings other than ears may be okay once you have the job, but probably aren't safe for the interview.

Smells: Go light on perfume/cologne/aromatic oils. Be freshly showered and use deodorant.

Staying Within a Budget

For recent graduates just entering professional life, additions to wardrobes, or complete overhauls, are likely needed. However, limited funds can be an obstacle. It may be best to try and mix and match separate pieces (i.e. different skirts with different jackets). The most important piece in any wardrobe is a jacket that is versatile and can work with a number of other pieces. Having your clothes pressed at a cleaners can make worn clothes look very sharp.

A navy or black blazer for men can work well with a few different gabardine pants. Although this kind of ensemble would be just as expensive as a single suit, it does offer more versatility.

Fashion Arrests

  • never wear blue denim jeans or shorts unless the vast majority of others do
  • don't dress too provocatively
  • "casual" doesn't mean "sloppy" – your clothes should always be free of stains or holes
  • workout wear belongs at the gym


  • If you're thrift shopping, look for good name brands, designers, etc.
  • Feel the fabric by squeezing it in your hand –  if it stays wrinkled, you don't want it, as it will crease with every movement and you will look like your forgot to iron.

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Contact The Center for
Life Beyond Reed
Phone: 503/777-7550
Office: Greywood

Ron Albertson


Julie Kern Smith

Associate Director of Career Development
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Brooke Hunter

Assistant Director for Strategic Partnerships
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Meredith Dickinson
SEEDS Coordinator
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Michelle Johnson

Fellowships Adviser
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Bonnie Ingersoll

Administrative Coordinator

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