What to Wear to Smith Events

Never wonder what you’ll have to wear again …

Welcome to Smith! You’re on your way to making the most of your business education. As a Smith student, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to visit sites, listen to high-profile speakers, and network with a variety of alums and business professionals.

One of the keys to success in the world of business is knowing how to dress appropriately. Employers are always looking to make sure prospective interns and employees will be able to present themselves—as well as the company—to clients.

Use this guide to help you figure out what’s appropriate to wear to Smith events.  For most events the Undergraduate Program hosts, the dress code will be listed under the RSVP.

Download: Smith Business Etiquette Tips.

TIPS FOR DRESSING ON A BUDGET

  • Don't wait until you are pressed for time and have to make a hasty decision or a choice that is not in your budget. Purchase clothing with multi-use potential.
  • Invest in impressive, classic, well-made separates that can be combined for a 'professional' or 'casual Friday' look.
  • Begin by selecting your best ‘neutral’ as a nucleus for a professional wardrobe. Colors like black, dark gray, and navy are versatile, but pearl gray, stone, steel blue, camel and celery are fashionable options that lend new dimensions to any working wardrobe. Your best neutral is dependent on personal coloring and personal style as well as your best visual impact.
  • Purchase matching components. Having options such as wearing a skirt or pant with jacket or vest multiplies possible combinations.
  • Use shirts/blouses/sweaters to create variety of visual effects.
  • Select ties/scarves and jewelry that add to possible visual variety.
  • Consider investing in season-less fabrics that drape and travel well, such as lightweight stretch wool, washable matte jersey or a blend of cotton and rayon.

BUSINESS FORMAL

Business formal attire is required many events at Smith; be sure to consult the dress code in the RSVP.  Business formal shows you are serious about the event you’re attending, as well as serious about yourself.

General guidelines for business formal:

  • Select apparel, fragrances, jewelry, hairstyle, etc. that do not detract from your professional image.
  • Make sure your hair is clean, neat and professionally styled.
  • Apparel should be clean and neatly pressed.
  • Apparel should fit well and remain in place while sitting and/or walking.
  • Less is more. Keep your look simple and successful!

For Males

A nice dress shirt with an appropriate tie, good quality chinos or trousers, and a sports coat is highly recommended.

Turtlenecks are also appropriate if matched with a nice jacket.

For Females

Business suits (a matched skirt and jackets) and, in most workplaces, pantsuits (matched pants and blazer). Closed-toe shoes (no sandals), blouses, hose and conservative hair, jewelry, and makeup are expected.

If you’re attending a formal event and wearing a skirt, hose/nylons are usually expected.

Also, remember to wear shoes that you are comfortable in and that you can walk in—meaning don’t wear heels if you can’t stand up straight!

BUSINESS CASUAL

Business casual attire is usually appropriate for events such as an etiquette dinner or attending a special speaker.  Please make sure to pay attention to the dress code on the invitation or RSVP form.

General guidelines for business casual:

  • Business casual is crisp, neat, and should look appropriate. It should not look like cocktail or party or picnic attire.
  • Wear a leather belt and leather shoes. Athletic shoes are inappropriate.
  • Everything should be clean, well pressed, and not show wear. Even the nicest khakis after 100 washings may not be your best choice for a reception.
  • Carefully inspect new clothes for tags, and all clothes for dangling threads, etc. (as with interview attire).

PRESENTABLE CASUAL

You might wear this on a site visit or when a special speaker comes to class. This is casual, but you should still be prepared to meet with alums or keynote speakers, as well as be able to engage in some activity.

General guidelines for presentable casual:

  • Jeans and khakis are appropriate, as long as they do not have any holes or other large, visible stains.  
  • Tops can include t-shirts and sweatshirts, but once again, make sure there are no holes or visible stains.  Shirts should not be tight and form-fitting to the body.
  • Wear comfortable sneakers; flip-flops or sandals are generally inappropriate.
  • Make sure you have clean hair and it is in a simple hairstyle.

USEFUL RESOURCES ON PROFESSIONAL DRESS