March 1, 2005

Attire for Hire Offers Style Tips

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The third annual Attire for Hire show was held yesterday evening in a packed Barnes Hall auditorium. The event, sponsored by Cornell Career Services, provided information to students on how to “impress for less” on the job and for interviews.

The presentation given by Jennifer DeRosa, assistant director for employer and alumni relations at Cornell Career Services, highlighted the fact that in interpersonal interactions, most judgments are made in the first 30 seconds within meeting a person, and 80 percent of that first impression is based on appearance. She noted in her presentation that people notice clothing first when initially meeting somebody. The second thing they notice, she said, is the person’s face, then their hands, and finally their shoes.

DeRosa stressed, however, that it is very important to know what to wear.

“You have to consider your work environment,” DeRosa said. She mentioned that striving for consistency is important, and that it is always more important to focus a potential employer’s attention on your words and not your clothes. She suggested buying more traditional outfits than trendy ones, saying that employees will get more wear out of traditional pieces.

Also covered in the presentation were tips on where to shop for business attire on a budget. She suggested stores such as T.J. Maxx, the Salvation Army and Trader K’s on the Ithaca Commons, as well as eBay.

Craig Jones, information services assistant at Cornell Career Services, said that the show is a “fun way of showing that you can dress for less.” He added that there is a misconception at Cornell that you need to spend a lot of money on clothes in order to be ready for the workplace.

Received by many laughs in the crowd were the “Top 10 Interview Blunders,” which included funny but helpful tips for interviews. The list highlighted such mistakes as “clown face syndrome,” (also known as overdone makeup) for women, and the “is it five o’clock already syndrome” (referring to the five o’clock shadow) for men.

Continuing on the theme of advice, the presentation proceeded to give both men and women tips on what to wear for business attire, business casual attire, and casual attire in the workplace. DeRosa suggested that for business attire, the purpose is to “convey a professional appearance as well as creating an environment conducive to work.”

She advised that for women this includes wearing a dark suit or knee-length skirt, a muted shirt, a closed-toe shoe with a maximum heel of two and a half inches, neutral makeup and nail polish and nude stockings.

For men, according to DeRosa, business attire consists of suits in conservative colors, dress shirts in white or blue, silk ties in basic colors, a belt matched with shoes, and dark socks. The show also included a The Price is Right game that was played several times throughout the Attire for Hire event. With games that included guessing the retail price of an item and then comparing it to the price Cornell Career Service actually obtained it for, contestants earned prizes such as portfolios donated by the Cornell Store.

Models also walked the runway modeling everything from business attire to casual attire, and certain “don’ts” of workplace apparel provided the crowd with real examples of what is not appropriate to wear.

Matt Grant ’07 said that his favorite part of the show was “the breakdown of different business sectors and the appropriate attire that coincides.”

He added that the show “was informative with different audience-oriented activities that made things more interesting.”

Grant noted that “[The Attire for Hire event] should help when I’m preparing for an interview, conference, or networking.”

The students who attended the program completed a survey, which asked if they were interested in an “Attire for Hire” closet which would contain professional attire to loan out to students. DeRosa said that with the results of the survey Cornell Career Services may decide to start a rental service to Cornell students.

Archived article by Stephanie Wickham
Sun Staff Writer