Yesterday I worked a graduate and professional school fair at Hampton University. I had a great time talking with students and colleagues. Hampton has a beautiful campus and, from what I can tell, a really warm and open campus culture. Everyone was cordial and helpful and the students were engaged and focused. I’d give the experience two thumbs way up. I did have a continuous gripe. Many of these mannerable and articulate students were NOT dressed appropriately. So ya’ll already know what this is about.
As I’ve said here time and time again, if you’re interested in going to grad school, Graduate and Professional School Fairs are events that MUST make your to do lists. This is an opportunity for you to not only get information from many schools at once, but you also get the chance to meet and connect with very important faculty & administration. Due to administrative cutbacks and efforts to prove efficiency, many colleges have resorted to sending faculty to do recruiting. This is important for a variety of reasons. Long story short, these are the people you need to be impressing. Once you get to graduate school, faculty rule the world. They make admissions decisions and determining which students get the most funding. You want them to remember you for all the right reasons. Your outfit speaks volumes before you open your mouth so I’m here to make sure that both of you are saying the right things.
First things first follow the instructions. Flyers, emails, and marketing materials about your graduate school fair will always let you know the expected attire for the event. Some fairs require business attire while others prefer business casual. Follow these instructions and you’ll never go wrong. I personally don’t feel that suits are necessary but business generally means the following.
- Wear clothes that fit you body and flatter you build. Pay very close attention to the word fit and love you body enough to dress it appropriately.. Learn your assets and how to showcase them in a classic and sophisticated way. You clothes should fit you with ease and should make you the focal point of you look. Things like strained seams, puckered buttons and pulls and riding up are distractions.
- Don’t show too much skin- The same rules that apply on job interview day, apply here. Skirts should be moderate lengths, no cleavage, bare shoulders, backs or midriffs. Shirts and sweaters shouldn’t be too form fitting and blouses shouldn’t be sheer , loudly colored or overworked with sequins, bows, or other embellishments.
- Iron your clothes. That is all.
- Make sure you hair is neat and your makeup and accessories are classic, practical and understated. Make sure you can carry all of the materials that you’ll be getting in an organized way. I’d also stay away from hats, cocktail rings, bulky noisy bracelets and large earrings. Less is more. You’ll be free to express yourself as an admitted student
- Your shoes should be comfortable and stylish. Comfortable doesn’t mean casual. Wear business appropriate dress shoes. Uggz, sneakers, and flip flops need not apply.
I personally don’t feel like you need to be suited and booted. You can dress casually and still looked polished. Jeans can be tough and I don’t know that I would wear them but if you must there are a few rules.
- Make sure your jeans are well fit and straight leg. When I say well fit, that means not too tight and not to loose.
- Make sure your jeans are a dark solid wash with a hem that falls nicely over your shoes. Stay away from cuffs or messy bunching.
- Your jeans should have no exposed labels, colorful stitching, additional fabrics and if they have more than 2-3% lycra leave them in your closet.
- Pair your jeans with a good fitting blazer, button down shirt or even a cardigan and cami. Solid colors or simple patterns and in classic clean fits are a must.
I know this was a longer post but I feel this information is super important. Many of us get into this game with systems and stereotypes already stacked against us. It’s in our best interest to make sure that we’re doing all that we can to ensure our intellect and potential are not overshadowed by the slight fashion don’ts we all fall victim to from time to time. Hope this helps.