Job hunting is hard work. One could even argue finding a job is a full time job. It certainly comes with all the stress and frustration of a 9-5. So why pile on more stress about choosing the right outfit to an interview when your resume clearly told them you were a great fit for the job?
I’m sure we can all agree that it shouldn’t matter what you wear to an interview if your qualifications are there, but it does. First impressions are crucial and dressing for the job you want ~ not the one you have ~ is a great way to show your potential employer you mean business. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a more laid back style or casual dress in certain industries. It does mean you have to do your homework and use good judgement in identifying where your company’s line is when it comes to casual dress. Whether you are fresh out of college embarking on your first job hunt or getting back out there to start something new, our tips on professional dress will prepare you for interview day and beyond and make sure you’re not standing out in all the wrong ways.
Tips for Casual Dress & Interviews
- Ask the Question: How do you determine what to wear to the interview? Simple, you ask! With the dangers of underdressing to an interview, don’t risk it. Just ask.
- Do Your Research: If asking seems uncomfortable or awkward, you can always check the social pages of the company. Today, everyone is on social media, even companies. Look through their pages and take note of what employees are wearing around the office. Take that information into account when deciding whether to suit up or not.
- Go Above & Beyond: Always dress up a bit. If you ask and they say jeans are fine, wear khakis. Dressing up a little more than what’s expected is always a good idea. Dress to impress!
- The Devil is in the Details: The details of your outfit show the interviewer that you put time, effort and consideration into your dress, the same consideration you would put into your work.
- Know Your Place: According to a recent article in Business Insider, “the youth work force, combined with the influence of Silicon Valley, has made office attire more casual.” This is true in several professional fields. Retail, social media, marketing, technology, journalism and customer service are just a few examples of fields moving in a more casual way. However, there are still several fields that support and require full business dress. If you work in finance, law or a structured corporate environment, play it safe and avoid going casual until you’ve discussed dress code with the interviewer.
- Mirror Your Boss: Using your boss (and their boss) as a guide is an easy way to navigate casual dress without having to outright ask or have any uncomfortable conversations. If your boss is strictly business casual, then I would follow suit. If they are very casual, then there is an open door to dress that way too.
Fashion Don’ts (No Matter the Dress Code)
No matter how relaxed the dress code is, there are some things you should never, ever wear at work or to an interview.
- Skin revealing items & Cut Out Items. It may seem like common sense, but it must be said: when it comes to the work place, modest is hottest. Choose properly fitted clothing that covers all the important areas. If you would wear it to the club or a party, don’t try to wear it to the office. This includes but is not limited to: strapless, spaghetti strap, mini skirts and thigh high slits. Also- never let your bra straps or boxers (yes, men we are talking to you too!) show.
- Rumpled or Wrinkled Items: Wrinkled items say a lot about who you are and the lengths you will or won’t go to to make a good impression on those around you. Items that look like they have been at the bottom of the laundry pile are not pleasing to look at and send the wrong message about you.
- Chipped Manicure: If you are going to wear polish, make sure it is maintained and kept neat. There is never an acceptable occasion for chipped polish or random blank nails missing polish. If you’re worried about timing, play it safe and go clean and neat then treat yourself to a mani pedi on a different day.
- Ripped Jeans: If you’re lucky enough to wear jeans to work, don’t abuse the privilege. Choose clean washes sans holes and save the torn ones for the weekend.
- Athletic Wear: We get that athleisure is trending and socially acceptable in most places. The office is not one of them, at least not for an interview. Avoid hoodies and sporty collegiate logo branded items.
- Pair your jeans with classic staples like a crisp button down or a tee with a blazer. It’s all about balance and finding what works for you.
- Use statement jewelry or shoes to express your personal style and add color to your look. Just remember the 80/ 20 rule when it comes to accessories. 80% classic, 20% individual. In addition to color and style, statement pieces are also a great way to strike up conversations with upper management or someone you’d like to notice you. Genuinely compliment their piece and use it as an ice breaker to get to know them. You never know where it may lead in the future.
- When preparing for an interview, consider a crisp white blouse, wrap skirts, a pant suit in black, navy, grey or khaki, a well tailored blazer or a pencil skirt. These are great pieces for the actual interview and if you land in one of those not-so-casual fields mentioned earlier, they will be great pieces to wear to work too.
With the dos and don’ts covered, it’s time to put together the perfect look. Below are some perfect pieces available at local Charlotte stores. Keep scrolling to see them all. You can also brush up on proper interview etiquette with this article here.
J. Crew Southpark
Neiman Marcus Southpark
Banana Republic – South Park
The Pink Hanger
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