Dress for success, not just the interview

by Rachel Yeomans | September 3rd, 2009   

Sharalyn Hartwell posted a fantastic article in The Examiner on the professional wardrobe. Read on to discover some necessary pointers for the work wardrobe:

business 21 Dress for success, not just the interview

It is an important day. Perhaps you have a job interview, an internship interview, a meeting with the dean or a meeting with a key client. Do you reflect the day’s importance in your dress? Do you dress for success?

Generation Y unfortunately seems to have a poor reputation when it comes to dress code. Do we deserve that? A recent tweet by @employmentguru, Jay Hofmeister of The Resume Bay, said “What is proper business attire for job fairs? Dispatch had a picture of people at a job fair, I thought it was Woodstock.”

That’s a scary thought. Let’s not add to that impression. Most of us probably follow the common rule of wearing a suit and tie or pant/skirt suit with heels for those important interviews or important days. You may feel trepidation about what to wear in an interview if knowing the office dress code is decidedly casual. I think it is always better to make a sound impression, dressed very professionally, rather than risk appearing slouchy or disinterested. Always dress your best, dress for success, for any of those important day occasions.

But, does it go a little further than that? What about on a daily basis after we land that job/internship or big new account? Do we dress for success then? I’ve worked in several office buildings and spent a lot of time traveling for business. I cannot recall meeting a single man not dressed appropriately. Dress standards are pretty cut and dry for men (which is a good thing, these types of things need to be simple for men. Smile, you know it’s true.) But, I have met countless women without a clue.

business1 Dress for success, not just the interview

I frequently saw (and in some cases knew) women dressed like they were headed out to a club rather than to meet a client. I’ve seen women whom at first glance look entirely appropriate in a suit—but upon closer speculation it is apparent they are not the professional they seem. The hemline is far too short, the pants are far too tight or the neckline far too plunging. A little goes a long way, ladies. Besides you never want to give someone an excuse to accuse you of succeeding for reasons other than your hard work and intelligence.

One basic rule to keep in mind—if you think you look hot and sexy, you probably shouldn’t be wearing it to the office. No one is going to take you seriously. On the other hand, if your clothes fit well and are appropriate, people are more likely to listen to what you say and respect your opinion. (You can argue that should be the case regardless of what a woman wears, but like it or not, it is a fact of life. Just conform, be appropriate and deal with it in your professional life. In your personal life, well, anything goes, right?)

We all know the rules, we know how to dress for success. Just do it. As much as we Gen Y’rs like to push the limits and break the rules, an interview or even an ordinary day at the office is just not the place to do that.

Photos: Ervin Bacik