Proper Interview and Business Attire: Dressing for Success in Today’s World

It is a generally accepted truth that our clothes say more about us than we ever realize. Whether or not you are conscious about it, the way you dress up is influenced by the way people perceive you. As such, dressing up for the occasion can make you feel like a different individual–and in a good way.

But did you know that your wardrobe can influence your psychological and physical routines, and that your choice of clothing impacts your performance? The relationship between self-perception and clothing plays a key role in this reality.

The Case of the Work Wardrobe

Dressing up for a specific job is essential. However, wardrobe standards vary depending on where you come from and the industry that you are a part of. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Psychology Department of the California State University found that formal apparel influenced individuals to “think dynamically”. Those dress up less formally, on the other hand, have inclination toward the urgent and the practical.

Dressing up for success is specifically significant in job search. Undoubtedly, when an employer welcomes you as a candidate, you can bet that your overall physical appearance is the first thing they’ll notice. They expect you to be suitably dressed for the occasion. What you wear is impactful enough to set the mood of your interview, and could very well lead you toward career success.

Who was it who said that “first impressions last”? For a job interviewee and work professional, no truer words could have said.

Dressing Up for Corporate Interview

Your physical appearance as an applicant may just be one part of it but remember that employers want prospects who seriously consider every step of the whole application process. They look for someone who can make a statement out of the way they dress up or groom themselves. They generally favor a candidate who treats the interview seriously and dresses up excellently to demonstrate that.

Even before you say a word to your interviewer, you should effectively establish a good, first impression. You do that by donning the right attire. Also, remember that companies differ in their dress codes, which means that your wardrobe for a specific job may not be acceptable in your next interview.

Men and women differ in the way they prepare for an important job interview, but it all boils down to wearing neat and clean clothes, looking and smelling good, styling your hair right, and keeping your breath fresh. Trust us; resisting the urge to smoke before your big interview will do you good.

Men, Here’s How You Should Look for Your Corporate Interview

  • Dress suitably for a specific position:  Are you applying for an executive or managerial position? A suit is the best way to go. It is once in a while suitable to “dress down” for a specific interview, that is, wear something a bit casual like a collared shirt or a long-sleeved shirt with tie. If all else fails, be conservative in your style.
  • Wear a suit during formal interviews: A suit implies what it is: a matching coat, slacks or pants, long or short-sleeved button-down shirts, neckties, dark-colored socks, and leather shoes. Dark-colored suits with light-shaded button-down shirts will have you looking formal and dapper.
  • Choose a comfortable and appropriate suit: Your suit needs to be comfortable. Ill-fitting clothes won’t do you any good. Also, invest in new clothing; that suit you wore in your college play decades ago needs to go.
  • Ditch the bright-colored suits and neon ties: Bright-colored outfits are an eyesore and are considered informal. It can affect the interviewer’s impression on you in ways you’ll never know–until they drop you from their shortlist.

Women, Here’s How to Look Best for Your Corporate Interview

  • Dress appropriately for a specific position: As with men, women should dress professionally and suitably for the position being applied for. If you are being interviewed executive or managerial position, wear a suit. Dress down if you must, but keep it casual with a simple blouse and a knee-length skirt; or a button-down blouse and a simple pair of pants.
  • Dress as if you’re the boss: A nice  knee-length, pencil skirt or pants with a matching suit will do the trick. Or go for conservative clothing to be safe.
  • Choose comfort: If your belt is almost slicing you in half, or if your coat is limiting your movement, don’t expect the interview to end well. Make the necessary alterations beforehand.
  • Pick dark-colored, simple wardrobe: Do away with anything that is too bright, too short, or too sheer-looking. Most interviewers gripe about the length of applicants’ skirts. Knee-length skirts are generally acceptable.
  • Match your suit with a conservative blouse: Try not to wear something that is too bright, shiny, or low-cut. Wardrobe with animal prints are a no-no either.
  • Wear simple makeup and nail polish: Makeup and nail polish ought to be understated and complimenting. Neutral shades or colors that are close enough to your complexion are recommended. Do away with neon or odd shades.
  • Wear minimal jewelry and accessories: Too much accessory or jewelry can be disrtacting to your interviewer. You don’t want to be looking like a fully decorated, shimmering Christmas tree.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes: Shoes need to be conservative, closed, and low-heeled. It should be in sensibly good condition. Keep the pair for your dates and night-outs for now; wear simple yet stylish pumps.

For your second (or third, or more) interviews, dress as professionally as you did the first time, whether or not you are facing the same employer. That said, don’t get caught up in choosing what to wear for an interview. The primary idea is to dress up suitably based on generally accepted work wardrobe.

Dressing Up For Success with Casual Wear

The first impression you make on an employer is the most critical one. The first feedback that an interviewer says is generally based on your physical appearance, and they essentially point to what you wear and how you wear it. That is why it is constantly essential to dress suitably for a job interview or an important business meeting.

Going business casual may sound easy. It suggests that you need not stress over what to wear as much as you would with a formal business wardrobe. Well, not exactly. In fact, this dress code seem to perplex a lot of employees because of the lack of a black-and-white definition for “business casual” wear. What it means for one company may be the complete opposite to the other organization. On top of that, people interpret wardrobe rules differently, and it can be tricky to spot the thin line between “business casual” and purely “casual” work attire.

There’s one thing that should be remembered, though: wearing shorts and a shirt, or perhaps a sundress with a matching pair of sandals, is exceedingly casual. It is doubtful that you get a “yes” from your interviewer wearing that. On the other hand, pairing up a full suit with a nice tie for men can appear overly formal. In any case, going the formal route is safer than looking too casual.

Business Casual Attire Guidelines for Him and Her

Generally accepted rules for going business casual suggests that women should choose a combination of dress slacks or knee-length skirts, simple blouses, sweaters, twinsets, coats, pantyhose and  closed toe shoes. Peep-toe shoes, sandals, and flip-flops may be worn in some offices, but don’t wear them during an interview.

For the next business casual get-up, ladies should bear these in mind:

  • Sheath dresses can appear too formal–wear it for that type of occasion.
  • Consider wearing khaki, cotton, twill, or corduroy pants and knee-length skirts.
  • Wear sweaters, cardigans, knit shirts, polo shirts, and twinsets in cold weather.
  • Solid, monochromatic colors are better than bright colors.

Meanwhile, business casual ensembles for men usually include chinos or dress slacks, collared or non-collared shirts with or without neckties, dark-colored socks, and leather shoes. Abstain from wearing polo shirts during an interview, regardless of them being suitable for daily wear should you get the job. Never wear jeans, shorts, or sandals either.

Gentlemen may also want to consider these tips for a job interview or in the workplace:

  • Wear long-sleeved cotton button-down shirts that are neatly pressed.
  • Wear clean and well-pressed khaki, fleece, cotton, and gabardine pants.
  • Wear sweaters or coats during cold weather.
  • The most recommended footwear is leather shoes. Match it with a leather belt.
  • Wear a tie at your own discretion.

There’s More You Need To Know!

It’s worth reiterating that knowing what to wear in a job interview is the first critical step toward achieving the career of your dreams. But taking a pick from the numerous ensembles in your closet is certainly not all there is to it. Your attitude towards rules and guidelines matter too–and could in fact far more important.

Here, we list the best practices of an interviewee or a new employee when dressing for success:

Take a look before taking a leap.

If you are a newly-hired employee, you are expected to make an extra effort to learn the ropes. The same principle applies to knowing the right daily outfit. Wearing overly casual clothes can make you look like you’re headed for a stroll or a picnic but a suit or tie may appear too tacky. Learn the company dress code to avoid overdressing or underdressing, unless the HR declares a dress-down day.

Be consistent.

If you wear professional or conservative clothes from Mondays to Thursdays, don’t appear completely different during Fridays. Even if the company has “dress-down Fridays” or “casual Fridays”, you still have to look presentable enough. Regardless of the type of company you are working for, always be consistent because it builds your credibility as an employee.

Obey the rules but use your discretion.

For casual days or “dress-down” days, you may opt to wear the best pair of jeans you own, but let go of those with a couple of stains or rips. Similarly, your “casual Friday” attire should still look formal enough for a surprise meeting with an important client or your big boss.

Consider your schedule.

If you’re going to meet a client or customer, dress on the moderate, safe side. It is seen as courtesy and as a sign of respect. Spare the casual outfit for “dress-down Fridays” that are free from of any and all types of meetings.

Know when it’s time to go shopping.

Men tend to wear ripped clothes and worn shoes and call it fashionable. For a purely business or business casual dress code, it is not advisable to wear any of those. Ditch your ripped jeans, old shirts, sleeveless blouses, ratty rubber shoes, or flip-flops, too! Wear your old, comfortable garments,in the comfort of your home, not in your place of work. Go shopping if you must.

Forget the offensive outfit.

Avoid wearing outfits with logos or offensive prints or graphics. It’s not acceptable either to wear shirts displaying your competitor’s logo as it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Worse, you can lose potential clients and customers with unpleasant wardrobe prints. Also, women should refrain from wearing skimpy outfits. Keep your bra straps where they should be–hidden from plain sight. And yes, your clothes must not only be appropriate; they should be neatly-pressed and clean!

A professional look demonstrates high regard for oneself, the employer, interviewer, and of course, the company you wish to work for or might already be a part of. How you carry yourself, your behavior, your wardrobe style should all point to one goal: you want to succeed. With this mindset, you need to dress right for an interview and at work

Now go raid your wardrobe and sort through your closet!