It only takes three seconds to make an impression. Unconsciously, we all judge people based on things such as their clothing choices, the way their makeup is done, how their hair is styled and how they walk and talk.
“Everything has an effect on somebody making an opinion about you before you’ve ever opened up your mouth,” said Michelle Czerwinski, the emcee for the Dress for Success fashion show, held in the Smith Student Center ballroom on Wednesday evening.
Students were given pointers on what to wear and how to conduct themselves in professional settings at the event. Seven student models demonstrated how to dress after landing a job in the corporate world, at the company gym, while traveling for conferences and at holiday gatherings.
“Students come to learn the various professional settings and ways to dress in those settings,” said Jensen Troy, a freshman public relations major who played a big part in the planning of the show. “We feel that it’s very imperative to give a good first impression.”
Czerwinski, the director of Marketing and Business Development for the Grove City Premium Outlets, said that having a resumé with credentials that stick out is key in earning an interview. She listed the dos and don’ts in such meetings.
She stated the obvious, such as checking for anything stuck in your teeth before you walk out the door and arriving clean-shaven. Czerwinski recommended not to eat before an interview once dressed and not to wear heavy perfumes or colognes as they can serve as a distraction.
“Making that interview is going to be very important because there’s a lot of competition out there,” said Czerwinski, “There are a lot of college graduates that are going to be competing with everybody across the United States for different positions.”
Models strolled down the runway in clothing from Adidas, Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Haggar and Lane Bryant. For interviews, Czerwinski advised students wear a black, navy or charcoal gray suit with a white shirt and neutral-colored shoes. Shirts should be ironed and pressed to get rid of wrinkles. For men, the tie should blend into the color of the suit and barely brush the belt. The buttons should be unfastened while seated. Slimmer suit pants are modern and in style, but the dress socks shouldn’t show.
“You always have to look at the type of business that you’re going into,” Czerwinski said. “If it’s a more creative field, maybe we don’t have to be as conservative. But you’re never going to go wrong in a suit. It shows respect for a person’s time.”
In order to fix a common mistake, men should use seam-rippers to carefully remove the brand label on a suit jacket’s wrist. The double vents, in the back of the jacket or ladies’ skirts, need clipped to be opened up.
“You’re trying to sell yourself, right?” Czerwinski asked rhetorically. “You’re trying to sell your brand and how you can be profitable and make a difference at this company.”
Though Czerwinski doesn’t recommend much jewelry, the incorporation of accessories in a woman’s outfit, such as a tasteful pair of earrings, a necklace or a watch, complements personal style. Necktie scarves can provide an extra hue of color.
“You don’t have to have a ton of money to dress appropriately for these settings and you don’t have to be a genius to understand,” Troy said.
Czerwinski also encouraged students to practice in their professional attire, such as sitting and walking upstairs in the clothing, and even rehearsing pulling a resume out of a case so not to look frantic when handing it over during an interview.
The business casual concept differs in every office and environment. A failsafe for women are dresses, Czerwinksi said. Guys should wear sport coats and dress khakis.
“Once you’re on the job, you just have to look at the culture and see what everybody else is wearing,” Czerwinski said. “We recommend stepping it up a little bit from everybody else. You want to stand out.”
Comfortability is most important when dressing for trips. The model showed that a blouse, capri pants and flat shoes do the job. Czerwinski urges those with fun personalities to add color in this instance.
“Keep that professional image,” Czerwinski said, reminding students not to give off a vacation vibe while traveling on a work assignment. “You never know who you’re going to meet, especially at a conference, and usually you’re there for business or self-education. You’re always promoting yourself.”
In the company gym, along with an outfit that leaves much to the imagination, Czerwinski instructed students to keep proper etiquette, bring a respectable bag to hold your clothes in, and, for ladies, to keep their hair in a ponytail or bun.
Finally, Czerwinski touched upon holiday gatherings, which are still work functions, whether to celebrate the year’s successes or for team-building purposes. She told students to remain modest and confident.
“They say that the most jobs are lost following a holiday party, [most of the time for] saying the wrong thing if you have a couple drinks and get comfortable,” Czerwinksi said. “You don’t want to be talked about for the wrong reason.”
A number of gift cards, up to $300, were raffled off before the show ended, allowing, Troy said, the opportunity to go to the Outlets and get the clothes that they need to nail an interview.