Dressing For Successful Job Interviews
by Claire Wei


Says the famous Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, “Fashion, your personal style, can either blast you through the glass ceiling or hurl you onto the unemployment heap.” With interview season fast approaching, it is important to not only step beyond the competition speaking-wise, but also style-wise. Sure, turning to your nearest polyester black pinstriped suit jacket and pants seems “fashionably appropriate,” but everyone else is thinking the same thing. Essentially, you don’t look unique anymore.

Before you start penciling in possible shopping days and sketching outfits in your mind, think about your prospective job or internship. What industry is it in? What category is it under: marketing, public relations, design? For jobs in accounting or politics, it is important to wear solid colors and definitive shapes. On the other hand, you wouldn’t wear a plain White House suit for an interview in the media or the arts; you want to show off your creative side. With that in mind, here are four simple rules to dressing well for an interview.

1.Aim for your best color. Yes, dark colors are slimming and classic, but you need to stand out from the rest of the interviewees, and frankly, dark colors scream forgettable. You can still have black in your attire, but make sure it doesn’t overwhelm your ensemble. For the corporate world, try layering black over royal blue or purple and gray; as for the creative side, mix and match a little black with a muted palette (neutral, navy, gray, black) splashed with pops of bright colors. But if you decide to incorporate bright colors, make sure there are no more than two in one outfit, shoes and accessories included. Unless you’re aiming for a cross between an Oompa Loompa and Ronald McDonald. 

2.It’s all about the fit. It doesn’t matter if you purchased your trousers from Kmart or Macy’s; if the clothes don’t fit you perfectly, you end up looking sloppy, and sloppiness equates to laziness. Potential employers do not favor lazy-looking people. The easiest way is to get your clothes tailored. Menswear tailors are very knowledgeable in the appropriate proportions of the pant hem, so do not fear your new pant hems will end at the ankles after your visit to the tailor. DO NOT AVOID TAILORING. 

Men, tailoring seems to be a huge issue for you. Make sure the hem hits the point where the heel of your shoe meets the upper, about an inch from the ground. If it’s too confusing for you, ask the tailor for a “toe-to-heel break.” The fit should always be slim and straight leg, none of that bootcut, skinny, low, or loose frivolity. The front of the pants should be front and non-pleated, without any fabric bunching up in the center. As for the upper torso, the jacket and shirt length should be no longer than your wrists. The shoulder pad seam should lie directly on the endpoint of the shoulder and the sleeves must hit the wrist. If you are lithe, try tapered pants. Just make sure they’re cut close, not resembling your favorite pair of girl jeans.

Most people think that all clothes fit them; that’s an absolute lie. You can get as close as you can get to a perfect fit, but there will always be room for adjustments. Ladies, with dresses, the dress length should be exactly at or an inch above the knees; any lower will make you look squatty and any higher makes you look too porn-star. Pant hem should hit right above your toes, covering the majority of the heels and exposing the front of the shoes. The fabric should not be stretching or tight in any area; it must graze the body. With pants, avoid trends and stick to the classic straight leg. The width of your hips should match that of the bottom hem, slightly narrowing at the mid-thigh. Think of your lower torso as a rectangle; everything should be streamlined. Same goes for skirts and dresses; the fabric cannot dip in the back, hugging your butt. This is not a competition for the best body.

3. Find definitive shapes. Just because the traditional suit best resembles typical interview apparel does not mean you must grab the first one you see. You can substitute a suit jacket for a fitted sweater or textured collared shirt and suit pants for a high-waisted or pencil skirt. For a more corporate feel, you can still maintain the suit vibe by wearing either the jacket or the pants. If you are interviewing for an art gallery, don’t forgo the business attire and wear a shapeless jersey dress with a belted cardigan. You still want to remain professional. Texture also contributes to the overall shape. Tweed is too heavy, and jersey is too light. Generally, the best fabric is wool and cotton/polyester blend for men and cotton/polyester blend or satin for women.

4.Accessories are key. If you’re in the creative industry, opt for bold jewelry, belts, and shoes. For the corporate world, subtlety lights up via colors and texture. Ladies, with a simple dress, the right belt can really cinch your waist and show off your figure without being too revealing. Regardless of the industry, heels cannot be higher than four inches. Even at four inches, you must be under 5″7’ to not look like you’re at a model casting. Closed-toe shoes are essential for both sexes, and flats are simply not acceptable unless it’s for the creative industry. Lace-ups or loafers are perfect shoes for men. Personality can really shine through via accessories; in order to choose ones that really represent your individuality, pick up the pieces that strike you the most when you are in a hurry. For men, wear narrow belts with narrow pants and wide ones with classic straight leg cuts. Ties are also one definitive way you can show off your uniqueness if you feel silly wearing white shoes or flashy belts, la Nigel from “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Images: www.style.com