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!


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