Every single morning, I face the same dilemma. It’s a daily struggle, and I admit, sometimes takes nearly an hour to resolve.
What do I wear today?
Yup, that’s the dilemma. I mean, seriously. What do I wear? Should I go casual? Dress it up a bit? Am I meeting with clients? Candidates? Lunch date? What am I doing after work? Friends? Drinks? Gym? OK, so what do I wear? Dress? Pants? Skirt? Which top? What color? Heels? Flats? Accessories? Makeup? Hair?
It can be overwhelming.
What’s even more overwhelming is deciding what to wear to a job interview. I mean, this is your future. You must be properly clothed.
Before we go any further, let me be the first to admit that clothes are functional. They cover your butt and keep out the cold. But just because something’s functional, does not mean that it can’t also be fantastically wonderful. What’re the first three letters in functional? That’s right: FUN. Getting dressed should be fun, and that includes getting dressed for an interview. If you know you look fantastic, it’s going to show in your demeanor, your strut, your body language, everything. Those unspoken gestures are what makes or breaks some interviews, so let’s make sure you look your best!
We’re gonna cover the don’ts first, and this goes for the gentlemen as well as the ladies.
1. DON’T look sloppy.
That means whatever you’re wearing should be clean, ironed, and in good condition. And on top of that, you should look polished. That means hair in place, loose threads clipped, shoes shined, shirt tucked in, no runs in your stockings and no chipped nail polish!
2. DON’T wear something uncomfortable.
Make sure you’re OK with whatever you’re wearing. Make sure it’s not too tight, too loose, or too revealing. Make sure it fits properly!! That means putting in the time and the dough to go to a TAILOR. That’s right, a tailor. And trust me: it’s worth it. Best tailor? Check out Gus’ Tailor Shop on Ashland.
3. DON’T wear something inappropriate.
When you’re going on an interview, it’s important to do a little research beforehand. Is it a casual atmosphere? Corporate? Don’t be afraid to ask! If it’s corporate, go for a gorgeous suit in a neutral color. If it’s casual, you can be more playful and wear slacks and a shirt with a blazer, or a pencil skirt with a cute blouse. Keep in mind this is an interview. Too much skin is ALWAYS a no. ALWAYS. NO EXCEPTIONS. EVER. FOR ANY REASON.
4. DON’T overdo it on the cologne or makeup.
I remember one interview I had at my last job. We interviewed candidates in a small, intimate conference room. And his cologne was so strong I had to keep the door open just so I didn’t pass out. I had a headache after that one, which was distracting from the real reason we were there. You never know when someone might be allergic to scents, so your best bet is this: take a shower, skip the scent. Fresh soapy smell is always best. And as for makeup, try and lighten it up. No dark colored lipsticks or heavy eye makeup. You want the potential employer to be looking at YOU, not the foundation line between your jaw and your neck. Good brands to check out? Clinique, Bobbi Brown, and Lancome all boast natural but polished looks. Still confused? Go to Sephora and have a consultant give you a mini-makeover. They’ll show you how to use products so that you go to your interview looking smashing. Even better idea? Go two hours before your interview. That way, if you hate it, you can wash your face. If you love it, you look gorgeous at your interview.
And now, for my favorite part of fashion: the DO’s.
1. DO let your personality show.
Just because you’re going to wear a suit, doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it. Gentlemen, try a sassy colored shirt or bold pattern (my favorite is the window paned shirt with bold lines.) Or wear a neutral shirt with a statement tie.
And ladies, feel free to go with some great accessories. Try several long chains with a simple blouse, or some amazing earrings. My favorite go-to jewelry designer? A line called by boe (www.byboe.com) by designer Annike Salame. Gorgeous metals and natural materials with clean lines and conceptual designs.
2. DO invest in nice interview clothes.
I know clothes can be expensive. I mean, seriously, who wants to spend $250 on a blouse that can only be worn on a few occasions? But trust me, it’s worth it to invest a bit of cash into your wardrobe.
And this is where places like Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx become your best friends: designer pieces at discount prices. If you’re wary of facing the treasure hunt and sheer volume of stuff at places like that, I would recommend J. Crew’s sale rack. And the best part? They have personal shoppers. For free. So if you get confused, they’re happy to help you figure it out! Same goes for Nordstrom: personal shoppers happy to bring your interview style up a notch.
QUICK TIP: Strapped for cash? Check out the styles and outfits in the expensive stores, then go to Target and find a similar look for less! Same goes for makeup: let the knowledgeable counter staff help you find great colors, then go find comparable products at Walgreens or CVS. Sneaky, but effective when you’re on a budget.
3. DO pay attention to your shoes.
It’s not just about clothes, it’s about the shoes, as well. Gentlemen, make sure they’re clean and polished, and no stink!
Ladies, best advice is: if you can’t walk in heels, don’t. But just because they’re flats, doesn’t mean they can’t be fantastic. Steve Madden has a ton of reasonably priced, comfy, functional flats that will surely complete your outfit.
4. DO opt for classics.
When I say classic, I DO NOT mean dated. But seriously, how much longer are leggings or white jeans going to be in fashion? But a great dress? Women’s fashion has been mimicking the 40’s dress silhouette for seventy years now, and why? Because it’s flattering on everyone. Men’s suits might have gotten skinnier and shinier throughout the years, but you can never go wrong with flat front slacks and a three-button jacket with mid-rise lapels and a single vent in the back. Trust me.
Overwhelmed? Check out www.thesartorialist.com for some of the best functional fashion from all over the world.
Still overwhelmed? Watch What Not to Wear on TLC. That Clinton Kelly knows how to do business casual like no one I’ve ever seen.