By Maura Gergerich, Toppel Peer Advisor

One crucial part to landing that dream job is being able to look the part. If you ever plan on attending any sort of recruitment function someone will always say dress is business casual or business professional. But, what exactly does this mean and what is the difference between the two?

Business Professional
This is the most formal business attire. For men, this means to wear a dark colored suit (solid or pinstripe is fine) with a solid color, clean, pressed, shirt. A conservative tie should be worn (save the funky retro patterns for elsewhere) and make sure that you wear shined, dark dress shoes that coordinate appropriately with your suit (brown shoes with a black suit is a major fashion faux pas). Socks should reach over the calf so sorry, but this is not the time to show off your ankles with your low cut athletic socks, and just like shoes, should match the rest of your outfit. Avoid flashy accessories like cufflinks or earrings (hopefully you know not to wear a necklace with a tie) and one ring per hand if any. Women should also whip out that power suit (pant or skirt) or you can also wear a tailored dress in a subtle color. For any outfit, avoid extreme slits and low necklines and keep hemlines to the knee. Polished, closed toe shoes with a back and low heel (if any) should be worn as well as appropriately colored stockings. Keep nails clean with no chipped polish and keep makeup and jewelry light. Both men and women should know to wear conservative colors (grey, navy, black), keep perfume and cologne light, and remember to keep those breath mints handy (no gum; you don’t want to forget to throw it out and be chewing like a cow at your interview). 
Business Casual
A basic outfit is khakis and a button up shirt, which is appropriate for men and women. More specifically, for men, ties are not necessary but when in doubt, wear one. You can always discreetly remove it if you are uncomfortably overdressed. Long sleeve shirts are slightly dressier than short sleeve but either are acceptable and you can even go for a light pattern (paisley is probably too bold but a subtle pinstripe always looks dapper). Slacks or khakis are your go to choices for pants and wear nice shoes. For women, both slacks and a pencil skirt are appropriate (neither should be skin tight) and should be paired with a blouse. Sweaters are an optional component of your outfit; just remember that your top should not be tight or show cleavage. The smartest option for shoes would be flats but sandals that are not too casual and have a back can also be worn. If you ever question how formal you should dress it is better to go with a more formal option rather than a more casual one. You usually won’t stand out for being dressy but wearing a polo in a room full of people in suits will make you stick out like a sore thumb.
It’s not shallow to say that looks are important to an employer while they’re looking to hire. You wouldn’t want to hire someone for a position if they show up looking sloppy and unkempt, right? You represent your employer when you go out into the workforce so how well you dress is a direct reflection on your boss. Your first impression in an interview is going to be made before you even open your mouth so it’s super important that you show off your professional attitude on the exterior as well as in your answers.