When you dress for an interview your objective is to be seen as intelligent and someone who can contribute to the company. You want to be respected, trusted and taken seriously.
First impressions count. It has been scientifically studied and shown that people are judged in 3-5 seconds. It is something we humans do. Dressing appropriately is also a way for you to convey respect for the company and person you are meeting. It is important to dress for the industry and corporate culture you aspire to. The Government and Financial Industries are more conservative. Other fields are more creative; Tech, the music industry, advertising, Marketing, PR, arts organizations, and nonprofits have a more flexible approach to expressing individuality in attire. Do some research on the company with which you are interviewing and take cues from the information you find.
Do not wear tight clothing. Buy pieces that flatter you. Don’t buy flashy fashion brands. You can buy some brands with detail or interest as long as you wear and pair the pieces appropriately. You don’t want your outfit to scream out the designers name or brand.
Make the investment to have your clothes altered or tailored so that they do fit. It is difficult to buy clothes that fit off the rack and most people in the public eye do have their clothes altered. Do not get hung up on size. Every brand has a different sizing and fit. A lot of companies practice vanity sizing. If you are a size 6 and you try on a pant that is too tight in the hips waist or seat you should go up to a size 8 and have the waist altered. It is far better to wear an item that fits well than not. A blouse that’s too revealing may be altered to be more appropriate. No cocktail or party attire should ever be worn in the daytime. You should never look like you are going out on the town as soon as you are finished at work.
Remember: you are not looking for a date you are looking for a job: Bra straps and camisole straps should never show. If you wear a camisole or slim strapped top be sure to use it as an underpinning and keep a jacket or cardigan on. A sleeveless dress and a sleeveless blouse are fine as long as they are not too revealing and bra straps never show. These are a good choice when the weather is hot. (Have lingerie tabs put in the shoulder to keep bra straps from wandering.)
You can put add a jacket for a professional finished look. A neatly tailored cardigan works well as does a pretty scarf.
No belly gaps - If you select the correct fit and length for tops this should never happen. Short skirt lengths are not acceptable: Skirts should come to the knee and no shorter than 3-4 inches or one palm width above the knee. You should choose a skirt that will cover your thighs when you are seated. When you try on skirts, sit on a chair in front of a mirror. That is what your interviewer will see.
A contrasting jacket looks great.
Black is the traditional and the ubiquitous color of choice. I think it is overdone. As an overall wardrobe choice it can be dull and dour. Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn immortalized the little black dress, but they certainly never wore it to the exclusion of other colors.
Basic workhorse pieces like jackets, skirts and trousers are well worth the investment. Fabric: Pick quality fabrics. They will keep their shape better and they will be easier to care for. Avoid fabrics that shine or pill.
Colors: Charcoal, medium grey flannel and pearly soft greys are timeless and flattering. A grey flannel jacket is a great wardrobe basic. Navy is elegant and chic. Be sure not to try to mix navy pieces that are not made to be a suit. It is the hardest color to match. Taupe, soft browns and tan colors pair well with all the greys, navy and off whites. Off White, Cream and Ivory are good choices to complement all these colors. Darker Creams and Ivory can be suitable in winter if the fabric is wool or a wool blend. Note: Be careful not to make a suit out of pieces that are not sold together. Wear colors that flatter your face, hair and eye coloring when choosing blouses, shirts and sweaters. Don’t wear especially bright or garish colors. Pretty colors are wonderful for Spring. Jewel tones bring a rich luxury to Fall and winter outfits. Color adds style and individuality to your wardrobe. You can use color and print blouses to vary your outfits, especially if you have a limited selection of basic pants skirts and jackets.
Prints: Like perfume, prints are very personal. What you like can turn others off. Big splashy prints can look dated and the colors too garish and bright. Find smaller prints that appear to be subtle and chromatic and use them as accent pieces. They can be lovely as blouses, dresses or skirts when paired with basics.
Shoes: Fashion shoes are fun but keep them for parties and clubbing. High heels, gaudy platforms, strappy open shoes or shoes with shiny metal or ornaments are not appropriate. Neither are sexy shoes or kinky boots. They convey a mixed message. Keep it simple. Shoes should be clean and shined without scuffed heels or toes. Jewelry: No oversize dangling earrings/ no nose rings or piercings. Simple and classic are best. You do not want the first thing people notice is your jewelry. Handbags: Don’t carry sloppy, overstuffed or worn handbags. You want to convey the message that you are organized and streamlined. Carry a neat clean tidy purse. A folio or tote are good choice to carry for your interview. Extra resumes, a notebook to take notes and other papers can be carried there. They can be made of leather or faux leather or microfiber. Preferably the tote should stand up and not flop over.
Tattoos: Do not ever show them!
Make sure your outfit is clean and well pressed. -Pay attention to detail- no hanging threads tacking stitches, tags or missing buttons. No lint or stains. -Wear clean polished shoes with no scuffs on the heels or toes. -Turn off your cell phone. Remove your sunglasses. Speech and Grammar Your voice and Grammar are important!
You must drop the following words from your vocabulary:
Experiment with someone and ask them to count how many times you use these words in a 5 minute conversation. Then really practice not to using them until you are confident that you can have a fluid conversation without them. Attitude Having a good attitude and conveying a willingness to learn and go the extra mile will inspire confidence.
Smile: It is your best accessory!