Ok, but What Should I Wear?
Congrats! You landed the interview; but does your appearance speak to your qualifications?
Remember freshman year of college, back in good ol’ Comm101, when you had to give your first presentation of the semester? The one where you woke up, a bit dazed and confused, running late, and plucked the first button-up you could find from your dorm room floor? Then, proceeded to hustle to class, while frantically fastening the buttons on your never-seen-an-iron shirt? Please say yes, because if that’s just us… things just got awkward.
It’s probably safe to say we’ve all come a long way from those unorganized, glory days. Our moms no longer hold our hands, while taking us for biannual shopping sprees. (Unless that’s your thing; gotta bond with Momma somehow. No judgement.) And, while this may indicate you’ve graduated to the pinnacle of adult-ness, and have a strong relationship with J.Crew button ups and Cole Haan footwear, you may instead be feeling a bit lost in the big ol’ world of adult fashion.
With that being said, if the innards of your closet are constructed of pastel ties, polyester suits, and oversized shirts, BURN IT TO THE GROUND. Or, at the very least, consider making a sizable donation to your local thrift store, please-and-thank-you. Repeat after us, “I am a big kid. It’s time to acquire a big kid closet.” We’re not here to judge what you wear after 5pm. If you want to break out your cozy cat jammies or fave stain-riddled hoody, good on ya. If not, you live a different life than us, and you probably know how to care for houseplants and make homemade noodles. Cheers.
Regardless of your post-work-hours fashion choices, obtaining a few staple work wardrobe pieces, is paramount to being taken seriously in the professional world. You know, professional settings like…a job interview. The one that could land you the career, that could finance your trip to go wine tasting in Italy (because apparently, that’s what adults look forward to, and you’re an adult now). So, you better be planning to look dapper a-f. (As the youths say.)
You might be sitting here thinking, “But who, oh who, would show up to an interview looking anything less than Don Draper put together?” We’re here to tell you, “Too many people, Cheryl. Thats’s who.” Part of being successful, includes being self-aware. So, it’s totally applaudable, if you’re having a moment of clarity, in which you recognize that perhaps you aren’t in-the-know as to what constitutes a structured blazer. If you’re raising your hands like, “Amen, yes, that’s me,” don’t fret. You’ve just got a bit of preparation to attend to.
And, if we can’t get you onboard based on style points alone, consider this:
If an employer has five candidates that are all equally qualified in terms of skill, the employer is going to look at how the individuals present themselves.
Job interviews are undeniably one of those places, where people are going to ‘judge a book by its cover’. You are essentially marketing yourself. You’ve no doubt researched the company you are interviewing at. So, you should have a good sense of their company culture.
Not every circumstance is going to call for a full suit/ballgown (unless, you’re up for a gig at Disney). You can blame the rise of tech-startups and millennial takeovers; but the fact remains, dress codes are changing. There are more office dogs and pingpong tournaments, and fewer black pantsuits, in many of today’s younger companies. However, before you start celebrating what our grandmas would probably refer to as the “death of common decency” (they tend to be real suckers for our Sunday best), realize that there are still many companies which are sticking to more classic dress policies. In many traditional industries, professional dress will be most appropriate.
*Brace yourself, highly cliche advice ahead.*
It’s never a bad idea to dress one notch more formally for your interview, than the people who already work there.
You spend so much time going over possible interview questions and if/then scenarios, that planning what to wear can slip to the wayside. Once you have an idea of the company culture, plan your interview outfit accordingly. If, after doing your homework, you still feel like you don’t know how employees at the company dress, don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s general dress policy. And, worst case scenario– dress up, not down!
- No matter what you’re wearing, who you’re seeing, or what the company culture may be; boy, ya better iron your shirt. Don’t own an iron? Pro tip: Westco Martinizing offers same day services on their professionally laundered shirts.
- Consult a tailor
- Going the suit route? Many places offer free tailoring with the purchase of your suit. It’s a cost effective route, that’ll certainly make any suit look more professional and polished.
- Sometimes school rules still apply
- Remember the golden rule of school? Ladies/Skirt-and-dress wearers, it’s still important to ensure the hem of your dress or skirt hits your fingertips when standing. Anything shorter starts to inch into unprofessional territory.
- Make sure your shoe-belt combo is on point
- Yeah, this one is non-negotiable. If you’re wearing black shoes, wear a black belt. Brown shoes? Brown belt. It’s just one of the rules of the universe.
- Stick to neutral colors
- Put the pastel, yellow shirt down. Pair your suit with a crisp white or light blue dress shirt. Don’t have one? Go get one! Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Macy’s, or even our friends at Keystone Station can get you taken care of!
- In case you missed it above– It’s always better to be overdressed, than underdressed
- Not sure if you should wear a tie? Bring one. Not sure if you should wear a suit jacket? Bring it along. It’s much easier to dress an outfit down, than it is to magically produce the needed attributes to dress one up.
- It’s not about spending an arm and a leg on a new wardrobe, it’s about presenting the best version of yourself
- We’re not suggesting you completely overhaul your look, or drop a bunch of money on new clothes. Focus on investing in a few staple pieces, work with what you have, and show your future employer the most polished version of yourself. Even if that simply means ironing your shirt.
Want a second opinion regarding your ‘look’ for the big interview? Or have a different interview/career related question? RNG would love to help. Reach out