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Acing the Interview: Getting Your Wardrobe Together | Undergrad Success
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Acing the Interview: Getting Your Wardrobe Together

Acing the Interview: Getting Your Wardrobe Together
Chaz Pitts-Kyser

Take the idea of dressing to impress very seriously because it isn’t just your credentials that will be judged during the interview. Your appearance should be as sharp as you are. Now, the problem is that different people have different ideas about what “sharp” is and what is appropriate business attire. Some people will walk into an interview looking like they should be going to a club and think their outfit is cute. Others will stroll in dressed business casual because they don’t feel like the job they’re applying for warrants wearing a nice suit. However, during the interview, only one person’s opinion about fashion counts—the interviewer’s opinion. Because you can never be sure about what someone else thinks is tasteful, you’re better off playing it safe by sticking to what has traditionally been considered “proper” attire for an interview.

women’s rules for Attire

Do . . .

  • Wear a suit to the interview, choosing between one with a skirt, dress, or pants. If you opt for a skirt or dress, pay close attention to how short it is. You don’t want to be ashamed to cross your legs during the interview.
  • Stick with solid-colored or pinstriped suits. Most people opt for a navy blue, black, or brown suit.
  • Choose a suit made from a synthetic-blend material, cotton-polyester, or wool, so that it won’t wrinkle easily. The suit should be tailored to fit you.
  • Wear a blouse that matches well with your suit, opting for a long-sleeved one (unless it’s summertime) that will allow the cuff to show around a quarter or half-inch beyond the jacket sleeve.
  • Wear shoes with a closed toe, even if it’s summertime. The heel should be no more than 1 1/2 inches high. The shoes should complement your suit.
  • Wear pantyhose closest to your skin tone or black if you’re wearing a black suit.

Definitely Do Not . . .

  • Try to get away with wearing a business-casual outfit. You’re dressing for the interview, not the job.
  • Wear a loud-colored suit or one with designs or animal prints.
  • Choose a suit made from materials that wrinkle easily or that looks cheap just from the look of it.
  • Come to the interview wearing a skirt, pants, or dress that is too tight or too big for you. You should feel and look comfortable in your clothes.
  • Wear no blouse or undershirt at all. What’s more, your cleavage should be completely covered up.
  • Wear heels you can’t walk in or ones that look worn out.
  • Wear hose with fancy designs or with a little run in them. In fact, you should bring an extra pair with you when wearing a dress or skirt.

 

men’s rules for Attire

Do . . .

  • Wear a suit to the interview. Stick with solid-colored or pinstriped suits. Most men opt for a navy blue, black, or grey suit,
  • Choose a suit made from a synthetic-blend material, cotton-polyester, or wool, so that it won’t wrinkle easily. The suit should be tailored to fit you.
  • Wear a long-sleeved, collared shirt (white is always safe bet) and a tie with a simple design that matches your suit and shirt.
  • Wear dress shoes and socks that match your suit.

Definitely Do Not . . .

  • Try to get away with wearing a business-casual outfit. You’re dressing for the interview, not the job.
  • Wear a loud-colored suit.
  • Choose a suit made from materials that wrinkle easily.

 

Those rules for attire aren’t too hard to follow and neither are these other rules governing fragrance, jewelry, makeup, accessories, and hairstyles.

Fragrance: Pay special attention to how you smell. Sniff yourself if you’re unsure! If the perfume or cologne you wear is strong with just one spray, then opt for a nice-smelling body spray for the day, or consider wearing no fragrance at all. Also make sure you don’t smell like any kind of food (a burger you ate before the interview) or animal (a cat you may have at home). Ditto for cigarettes and alcohol.

Jewelry: Less is better. Don’t try to “bling bling” for the interview; besides looking gaudy, big earrings, long necklaces, and clunky bracelets tend to make noise. Also lose any tongue, nose, chin, or eyebrow rings unless you’re interviewing for positions where you’ll look out of place without them (which aren’t many places). Lastly, err on the safe side and also leave religious jewelry at home.

Makeup: Women, less is better. You want to look natural, not made up. Save the heavy blush, fake eyelashes, and seductive eye shadow for a night out with the girls to celebrate your new gig.

Accessories: For women, a small purse that matches your suit is fine for the interview, but it’s better to just bring a professional tote that holds extra copies of your resume and work samples. A scarf around your neck that matches the suit is okay, but it should have a simple design. For men, a professional-looking satchel or messenger bag is ideal. Square briefcases are now out of style.

Hairstyles: How you wear your hair to the interview is entirely up to you. However, there are some general rules for hairstyles that you should follow. For women, these include coming in with neat hair no matter what the style; having the simplest style possible, such as a ballerina bun if you have long hair; leaving out unnecessary hair accessories; and making sure you have absolutely no dandruff to be embarrassed about. Also, unless you’re interviewing for a job in entertainment, it’s wise to keep your hair color natural, or at least not dye your hair using an unnatural-looking color. Hint: no colors in the American flag. Men should opt on the conservative side too. Make sure you have a fresh haircut and are clean shaven. If you have long hair, it is it best to have it in a simple pony tail or simple style.


interview
Chaz Pitts-Kyser

Chaz Pitts-Kyser is a writer and speaker with a passion for empowering young professionals and women to achieve personal and career success. She recently published her second book, Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College, a must-have resource for women starting out in their careers. Chaz is also the founder of Careeranista, a company and website created to inspire, support, and educate women.

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