When preparing for an interview, remember, different Industries have different rules–however there is a “holy grail” that works for most.
Understand that most workplaces are made up of people from diverse cultural, political, generational, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. What may be normal and acceptable for you can possibly be perceived as offensive and distasteful to another. The point is to keep this in mind when you get dressed each day and err on the side of classic, middle-of-the-road clothing if you are NOT sure if it’s too much for the office. In the workplace, you’re trying to get people to notice your professional skills, and so you do not want your appearance to be an unwanted or unintentional distraction. You want to be perceived as a stylish professional, and you want others to focus on your capabilities and talents.
Most offices have an official dress code policy. Feel free to ask during your interview exactly what theirs is or if they can point you to the dress code policy so that you can read it and become familiar with what is expected of you in the workplace. That will impress the boss, guaranteed!
Some “Do’s” when getting dressed for an interview:
- Do wear a suit (pant or skirt) or classic dress (like a wrap dress or sheath w blazer) that is well fitting/tailored. Depending on your industry you may be able to go more fashion forward with patterns, textures or colors but the fool-proof rule works for everyone so if you want to play it safe go with a solid, neutral color like navy blue, black, grey or chocolate.
- Do wear jewelry that is simple and timeless.
- Do wear your hair in a clean, neat style.
- Do wear clothing that makes you feel confident.
- Do wear stylish professional looking shoes that coordinate well with your suit and are clean and well kept.
- Do wear a blouse that fits nicely under your suit and that is pressed and not too revealing.
- Do wear deodorant and be well-groomed.
- Do wear natural, light make-up and short, colored nails.
- Do conceal tattoos and body piercings.
- Do carry a small, professional-looking handbag.
- Do wear hosiery; a skin tone color is fine (especially when the weather is cold).
Some “Don’ts” when getting dressed for an interview:
- Do not forgo the suit! You are trying to sell yourself, so a suit is in order.
- Do not wear a suit that is too overtly trendy; classic details are a MUST.
- Do not wear overly flashy or trendy jewelry.
- Do not wear extreme high heels, open-toed shoes, sandals, flip flops, or tennis shoes.
- Do not wear heavily scented grooming products or perfumes.
- Do not wear anything that is too short, tight-fitting, sheer, low-cut, provocative, or strapless.
- Do not reveal spaghetti straps or expose bra and underwear lines.
- Do not wear decorated, brightly-colored, or fishnet stockings.
- Do not display tattoos or body piercings.
- Do not wear an overly trendy or extreme hair style; timelessly chic.
- Do not carry a backpack, or every-day bag. Carry your best handbag/portfolio.
- Do not wear heavy make-up or overly long, brightly-colored nails.
Pamela Watson, celebrity stylist who currently works as the trend expert for Builders of Style, where she prepares A-list clients for red carpet events, music videos, concerts and award shows.