Wadrobe Basics for Job Hunters

Congratulations, you’ve snagged that important interview. After weeks of follow-up phone calls and endless e-mails the head of hiring has scheduled you for a 4:00 p.m. interview on Monday.

Today is Friday. You have the weekend to prep for the meeting and bone up on the company’s performance. Before you go to sleep on Sunday night, secure in your knowledge that you now know everything about company XYZ; it’s time to think fashion.

It’s a good idea to call ahead of your interview and investigate the dress code at your dream company. With luck, you may know a friend or acquaintance that works there. If not, contact the Human Resource Department to find out what the dress standards are at the company.

Great, you’ve made the call and now you know the dress code. It’s time to delve into your closet and get dressed for success.

For Men

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

Shoes
They should be as clean as possible. Even at the most laid-back office, it is unacceptable to show up in flip flops and expect a job to be handed to you. For casual settings, a loafer will do nicely. For more formal offices, get out that shoe-shine kit your Dad gave you at high school graduation and give those wingtips a quick buff and polish.

Socks
Make sure there are no visible holes in your hosiery and yes, your socks should match.

Belts
Yes, please. No pants hanging off your hips. Try your best to match your belt to your shoes.

Bottoms
Skip the denim. Even in creative jobs you are better off interviewing in a less casual pant. Make sure your pants are properly hemmed and not dragging on the ground or flaunting your ankles.

Shirts
Polo shirts are fine for casual settings. Skip the large logos and opt for something clean and inconspicuous. For a more professional image, try a collared dress shirt. Solid colors can never get you into trouble.

Suiting up
For lawyers and other professionals, a suit may be the best option for interviews. Navy pinstripe is a classic choice and a good investment. Opt for a professional tailor to nip and tuck the suit (even if you purchased it for a steal at a discount retailer, fork over the cash for a good tailor).

Grooming
Hair should be clean and out of your face. Keep the facial hair displays to a minimum. Cologne should be barely perceptible.

For Ladies

The same basic rules apply, but women have more room for creativity.

Shoes
The cleanliness standard applies to ladies as well as gentlemen, so leave the scuffed sandals in the closet. If you must wear an open-toed shoe please, no hosiery and make sure your toenails and feet are in good shape (this would be a good time to splurge on that pedicure). Stilettos are also a no-no. Remember, the shoes should be comfortable. You may have to stroll from office to office at your interview. You don’t want to be crippled by uncomfortable shoes.

Hosiery
This bit of wardrobe torture is really only necessary in the most conservative fields. If hosiery is required, select a non-patterned pair and make sure there are no runs.

Bags
This is not the time to flaunt your most expensive Dior handbag. A simple tote or satchel the best bet. Try to get all of your personal articles and professional gear in one bag. Fumbling with a briefcase and handbag will make you look amateurish.

Bottoms
Same rule applies-no denim. Women can chose from pants or skirts. Skip the low riding pants. No one needs to see your thong at an interview. Skirts should be close to knee length and not tight.

Dresses
Why not? This is a simple answer to the “what to wear” question since it negates having to match a top and bottom. Dresses can be very quite professional and a simple sheath dress in black can go just about anywhere.

Tops
Keep things simple. A sweater set is a great idea for interviews. This versatile wardrobe staple allows you to add/subtract layers depending on the climate.

Grooming
No high maintenance hair styles or make-up. Your goal is to ook fresh and unfussy. Keep the jewelry to a minimum. Perhaps, select one special accessory (an ethnic necklace is fine, but don’t load up on tons of bulky bangles).

With these simple suggestions, you should be able to safely avoid any fashion faux pas on your first interview. Let your intellect and energy be what the CEO remembers, not the scent of your cologne.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

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