Dress to Impress

You have 30 seconds to make your first impression. That’s it.  After that, it can be exceedingly difficult to get another chance to show a prospective employer that you are the right person for the job.  A large portion of your first impression in represented through your clothing.  What you wear tells others about who you are and can portray a positive or negative image to the people around you. 

This past week I was working with a client in my store, styling her for an upcoming job interview, and she asked me what would be appropriate to wear.  In today’s workforce, there are a hundred times more options to consider for dress then there were 60 years ago!  You aren’t necessarily going to be walking into Don Draper’s office as Peggy Olsen, the timid secretary to be, dressed to impress in a plain-jane skirt suit with a button down shirt, securely fastened all the way up to the neck while sporting flesh colored panty hose and close toed 2 inch pumps (not to mention wrist gloves).

Today, because we have more options than we used to, there are other factors to consider when dressing for an important job interview.  When I responded to my client’s original question, I answered her with a question in return – “What is the position you are applying for and with what company?”  These are the very first pieces of information I gather before finding out anything else.  With so varying career levels and job positions, it is important to do some background information in the company you are interviewing with, not only to help you nail the one on one portion of your meeting but to also fit in with the look and ideal of the company.  Is the company large? Family owned and run? What does the position applying for entail?  A potential candidate for a financial advisor position is very different from an editor at a magazine and therefore, I would style them completely different.

If your profession falls into a more artistic category such as retail or graphic design, you have a lot more leeway with your clothing choices.  These careers strive for people who have a creative sense to them and can show that through their clothing.  Now, this does not mean that you should walk in showing your 9 piercings across your face and 5 tattoos on your body.  Unless you happen to be applying for a position in a tattoo and piercing parlor, multiple piercings, except for 1 in each ear, should be removed.  Don’t feel restricted to a one button suit.  It is perfectly acceptable to wear a dress as long as the hem comes to your knees or 1-2 inches above them and the neckline does not fall low enough to reveal anything you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see!  If you have a print on your garment, make sure it doesn’t scream “toddler” with butterflies or hearts.  Keep prints simple, professional, and not too busy.  If need be, throw on a basic cardigan and wrap a nice belt around it to show off your shape.  A nicely made blazer and pair of tights can add a polished look to your overall ensemble.

While the style of the 1960’s professional dress may have changed, conservatism in the workplace, very much still applies.  For many companies, it is appropriate and expected to show up for an interview in a suit; however, please note that this does not mean your outfit has to be boring!  First things first, go out and find yourself a nice suit, one that fits you well and does not pull or sag in the wrong places.  Ensure that arm length and pant inseam is correct for your height and build.  Opt for a well fitted button down to wear underneath your jacket instead of the worn cotton tee.  To top off your look and stand out from the rest, grab some simple yet eye-catching accessories to add on such as a silk scarf, chunky inspired necklace, or elegant hair piece (no feathers or bows, please)!  Accessories can play a large part in personalizing your look.

Whichever interview you are going for, remember to keep your make-up simple, nails clean, polished or buffed and shoes appropriate.  No employer wants to see a possible candidate stumble in wearing 5 inch stilettos or flats that allow your pants to drag.  The proper shoe is worth the investment.  Remember, while first impressions aren’t everything, they certainly make a strong statement, so walk tall, chin up, posture straight, and with confidence that you are right for the job!

Summer Lovin’

As the temperatures rise and I begin to feel my toes again and see the grass reappear under the thick sheet of bitterness, also known as snow, I always seem to do the same two things every year. The first is turning on country music and setting it to non-stop, while the second would be running as fast as my size 8.5 feet can take me to my favorite stores to start stocking up on summer dresses!

While I am in love with the comfort of Ponte pants, warm tunic sweaters, and chic tall boots; at heart, I love to go pant-less!  You will find me during the warmer months constantly wearing skirts and dresses followed by more skirts and more dresses. 

I always find it odd when I meet up with friends or family for dinner and they look at me and remark, “Why did you get so dressed up?” when I’m wearing a simple, cotton, button-down, shirtdress or a floral print jersey knit skirt and cotton tee.  I simply reply, “I don’t understand. I’m wearing a summer dress and it is summer!” Now, I know…I know…we are quite a few months away from summer and I can’t use that line just yet; however, I can’t help but get excited thinking of sunshine and warm weather, outdoor concerts, baseball games, and all of the taste filled cookouts soon to come!

So, as I was celebrating shaking off the past few months of winter blues while trying to tame my excitement for the upcoming season this past week, I browsed local venues to see what they had in stock already and what might be found soon “in stock” in my closet.  What I truly love about the 2011 fashion scene so far is the idea that there are so many options available in terms of trends! 

I know I have discussed in past columns the popular-to-be trends from minimalism to color blocking to retro theme, but what I love for my summer dresses are prints! The bright colors and intricate patterns catch my eye and have the ability to help set my mood.  While these features are favorites of mine, prints are very personal to each individual, so I would expect you to have your own take on whichever color and pattern you like. 

I do however, believe that adding basics like a double wrap or thick weaved belt to your look is a must!  Depending on where you are going and what you will be doing, I would throw on a lightweight cardigan and grab a good jean jacket to take along! 

Derek Lam Spring/Summer 2011

In past seasons we have seen the maxi dress take a dominate frontier in the dress world and I wouldn’t expect that to necessarily go away.  Dresses ranging in every hem length possible are going to be available this season.  From maxi cut (where the hemline hits the floor) to tea length (the hemline will hit approximately your calf area) to knee length (just above or below the knees) to the coveted mini (thigh high) you will be able to find every option this year.

Rebecca Taylor Spring/Summer 2011

Paul & Joe Spring/Summer 2011

Milly Spring/Summer 2011

 

Not only are multiple hemlines present, but different fabrics are in the mix.  I love the look of multiple layers of sheer fabric in a dress, especially if attending a wedding or formal event, while the retro seer-sucker halter dress is more appropriate for a casual day of shopping.  Open your eyes and you’ll notice silks, synthetics, lace and the always present cotton all around as well!

If you are as excited for summer and warm weather as I am, I suggest skipping to your favorite store for a quick therapy session as well and seeing what pattern and hemline suit you best.  The only thing left after the dress would be your favorite shade of lipstick, chic shades, and stylish footwear. 

Dior Spring/Summer 2011

Don’t worry, we’ll tackle the sandals and wedges soon enough!  Oh, and if you can’t wait long enough to wear your new purchase, go ahead and throw it on tomorrow with some confidence and a pair of thick tights and you’ll be good to go!

Some more of my favorite looks from Paul & Joe! Designer extraordinaire!