Dressing for the occasion

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If there's a downside to changing appearance standards, says Steve Rosa, chief executive officer of Advertising Ventures Inc., it's the stress of trying to figure out how to dress for meetings at different companies.

"If we go to a dotcom company in downtown Boston with our ties on, we're going to look like dinosaurs," he says.

For professionals who meet with a variety of clients in one day, the solution may entail bringing along an extra set of clothes or knowing how to dress down a business suit.

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It's essential, says Vault.com's Chandra Prasad, not to assume that "business casual" means the same thing for everyone.

Where job interviews are concerned, Patrick Lennahan advises graduating seniors at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., to do their homework.

A potential employer's expectations for attire can be ascertained over the phone, or by browsing staff photos on the company Web site. Mr. Lennahan has even told some students to hang out in the company parking lot to see what employees wear.

Most of the time, Lennahan explains, a suit is appropriate for an interview, although new-media and high-tech companies are often exceptions to this rule.

He also advises college students to remove facial piercings and cover their tattoos, if possible, as they often turn the focus to a person's appearance rather than their qualifications.

Some students may not be willing to compromise on the issue, says Lennahan, in which case they must simply be willing to work harder to find an organization willing to accept them for who they are.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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