Bellevue helps students “Dress for Success”

Illustration by Brandy Pickering

First impressions are lasting impressions, as the saying goes. Last week, the Bellevue College Business Leadership Club and Fashion Club—both led by Michael Yoon— joined with Eastern Washington University to bring representatives from Nordstrom, Campus Point and Verizon to talk to students about that perfect outfit for a first impression in the event “Dress for Success.”

The event was held in C120, right next to the cafeteria. The panelists were Mallory

Lindberg, regional recruiter for Nordstrom, Emily Bomar from Campus Point and Kathi Mael, a recruiter for Verizon.

After a short introduction from Eastern’s Bernadette Lopez, Lindberg began a presentation about snappy work attire for ladies – starting with the five must-have basics: White blouse, jackets, skirts, trousers, and colorful and printed tops.

She  talked about the misconception associated with the generic white blouse when, actually, there were many different cuts and styles available that were all professional but still showed personality.

“Just make sure that it’s pressed,” Mael added. The panelists agreed; they all had many horror stories to share about interviewing people with wrinkly – or even inside-out – shirts.

Jackets came next. That’s another article of clothing that can get misconstrued as ‘boring’ when actually they can be colorful, cut in many different styles and cute, rather than the typical boring black blazer. “It’s fun to show your own personality through those [jackets],” Lindberg said.

Following that was the skirt — all the panelists had plenty to say about this. “What do you notice about the hemline?” Lindberg asked, showing the audience some pictures of stylish business skirts. She continued to say, “Knee length. Make sure, ladies, that your hemlines are appropriate!”

“Remember that you’ll be sitting down,” added Bomar. “The girls who wear short skirts just look uncomfortable.”

Next the ladies talked about trousers, and what was appropriate with that. “I love the fun colors. They have a professional look, but they still have that pop of color. But with trousers, fit is everything,” said Lindberg. The other panelists echoed that trousers were always a great bet— as long as they fit.

And the final item on the ladies’ necessity list was colored tops. “This gives you a way to express more of your personality,” said Lindberg.

It was generally agreed upon that colored shirts were great— as long as they were done appropriately and not exposing themselves.

Acceptable accessories were belts, scarves, handbags or briefcases and shoes— heels and flats. Mael recommended keeping a pair of flats in that stylish handbag for long days.

But ladies’ clothing wasn’t the only thing they talked about. The gentlemen’s fashion needs were addressed as well. The basics for men were the suit, button down dress shirts, ties and socks.

All the panelists agreed that fit was everything with a suit – if it didn’t fit, the whole image was ruined. They stressed taking an ill-fitting suit to a tailor for fixing before wearing it to an interview.

“Keep it neutral, keep it basic,” said Lindberg. “It’s probably not a good idea to walk into an interview in a white suit, or a red one.” The best colors they gave were black, blue and charcoal.

When talking about the button-down dress shirt, the panelists said that there were really four acceptable styles: White, pinstriped, blue, and patterned.

“With the shirts, please tuck them in. Take the time and look polished,” said Mael.

Ties were told to be either solid, striped or “neat.” Lindberg recommended talking to the in-store tie professionals to figure out what works.

Socks, on guys, really matter. White socks were unanimously declared a bad idea. The socks have to match the suit, and the shoes have to match the belt, which will be showing because the shirt will be tucked in.

After finishing that presentation, they gave some general advice:

“What not to do? Jeans, untucked shirts, wrinkles… those are big ‘no’s for us,” said Mael.


Bomar suggested finding the location ahead of time— “The biggest excuse for being late is ‘oh, I couldn’t find it’,” she explained.

At prompting from the audience, Lindberg clarified: “Leggings are not pants,” she said. She also said, “No chewing gum is our number two rule. And we only have two rules.”

They talked about shoe choices as well— open toes are fine, Bomar said, as long as they’re comfortable and safe. But flip flops are never acceptable.

Finally and most importantly, smile! As Lindberg said, “A smile goes a mile on the aisle!”