The old rule in job interview attire for women was simple: Wear a blue or black suit, add a white blouse and accessorize with a simple string of pearls.
Today, the rules of what women should wear to a job interview can leave you exasperated, stressed-out and overwhelmed.
According to University of Toledo psychology professor, Dr. Frank Bernieri, first impressions are formed within 30 seconds and often make the crucial difference in a job interview or a first date.
That’s why you cannot afford to make a first impression mistake.
Considering today’s recessionary times, wearing the wrong clothes to a job interview could kill your chance of a new career, before your firm grip clasps the interviewer’s right hand.
But you can learn what to wear to a job interview, and wow your potential boss with your personality and appropriate attire.
Step 1 – Perform stealth dress code research on the company and the interviewer.
You might be wondering whether you should wear an interview suit that reflects your own style philosophy or adopt the dress code of the new position to reveal your ability to fit in?
Find out the rules of the company and modify your attire accordingly.
For some companies conservative business suits are expected; others will issue fashion citations for applicants wearing anything other than business casual clothing.
Step 2 -Determine what style type your new office follows.
There are four types of business attire categories for interview attire:
- Conservatively old-school (CO)
- Business-preppy (BP)
- Creative-funky (CF)
- Sophisticated-glamour (SG).
CO and SG companies expect employees to wear the most formal business attire. Managers and staff wear bespoke suits, scarves, closed-toe pumps and pearls.
SG companies are located in the Northeast and West Coast–where designer labels, meticulous tailoring and manicured hairstyles are mandatory.
SG companies include publishing, advertising, beauty and entertainment. CO industries include: politics, real estate, law, sales, finance and banking.
Most educational institutions, physician, administrators and middle managers wear BP attire. Business-preppy environments favor khakis, polos, chinos, sheath dresses and cardigan sweaters.
CF companies like advertising, communications, music and fashion expect interviewees to express their personality and creativity by wearing bold fashion choices and trendy garb.
Step 3 – Examine your wardrobe for last minute interview fashion don’ts. (These rules apply to office attire as well)
- Make sure your shoes are polished.
- No see through clothing.
- Choose a well-cut and tailored dress or suit in a dark color.
- Get a manicure, but wear nude polish only.
- Iron your clothes.
- No athletic shoes. Save your sneakers for the track, the treadmill and the park.
- No flip-flops. Unless you are lounging by the pool in Hollywood, no one takes a woman wearing these shoes seriously.
- Don’t wear matchy-matchy outfits. Break up your suit. But make sure that your color palette is complimentary.
- Resist from wearing the sparkles. No sequined tops, sating skirts and evening wear are appropriate for a work environment.
- Skip the nude hose. Unless you are working in a conservative industry, choose tights in black, brown or dark gray.
- Bring a briefcase or purse, but not both. If you must carry a purse, bring a large leather portfolio to hold extra copies of your cover letter and resume.
- Wear simple jewelry. No bling bling. Pearl earrings and a simple watch are appropriate.
- Avoid bangles, charm bracelets, large hoops, door knocker earrings—anything that will clang or jingle is annoying.
When you first walk into a job interview, your outfit communicates either your competence or lack of professionalism instantly.
With my never-fail career wardrobe tips, you will not only make a great impression within the first few minutes of your job interview, but you will be able to create a delicate balance between standing out, while appearing to fit in perfectly.