This post was originally published on This Is Quarter Life.
Your resume and skills are what got you the interview, now it’s time to seal the deal and land the job by showing up looking fabulous.
First Thing’s First – Context is Key
The best way to convince the company you’re interviewing with that you belong there is to walk through the door looking like you do. While you’re doing research on the company’s work and achievements, don’t forget to get a good sense of the culture, environment and dress code. Areas like finance and legal will definitely be more buttoned up, while media and creative environments and retail stores tend to be more laid back. The most important thing you can do is make sure you know the company you’re interviewing with, what they’re like, and prepare to mimic it. There is rarely a “one size fits all” interview outfit, so figuring out what kind of look you’d like to go for in relation to the company’s vibe is the first step.
More often than not, walking into an interview with your dream job at a fashion publication or social media marketing agency with a stiff pants suit will give off the impression that you don’t have any idea of what the company’s culture is like, and more importantly, that you won’t fit into it.
Similarly, throwing on a colorful printed shift dress with a crazy print at a law firm with business clients might make your interviewer raise a brow and wonder if you’re someone that would take the job seriously. Context is everything.
Show Some Personality
When getting together your outfit for your interview, don’t make “playing it safe” your main priority by dressing in yawn-worthy neutrals. As long as you look clean, professional and you’re dressing appropriately for the company you’re heading to, there’s nothing wrong with playing with a bit of color. More importantly – it could help you stand out from the rest of the candidates that came in with a boring, forgettable black-and-white getup.
An easy way to add some personality to your interview outfit while still keeping it subtle is to add a pop of color.
Steve Madden’s Newbee, a patent bright orange pump, ($129.95) would provide a fun contrast to a simple black, white or tan sheath dress or a white button-down blouse tucked into a pair of cropped black dress pants.
If black and white is just your thing, try a funky print (Zara, Printed Dress, $79.90) with simple “barely there” accessories and classic black pumps or booties for a fun but professional look.
Some looks just never go out of style, and a “midi” dress consistently adds an air of professionalism while providing an old-school classic look with the modest cut. For an effortlessly put together, “grown up” professional look, try a midi dress with your hair pulled back.
The “You’ve got it Fade” midi dress from Modcloth, $54.99, wraps all of my favorite interview outfit “do’s” into one dress. The colors are neutral, but the print is fun, and the cut is classic and professional. With gray or black pumps, splash on a bright nail color and you’ve got a funky spin on an elegant look.
The shift and sheath dress styles are the most classic, versatile dress styles that never seem to go out. Updated versions have fun prints, but the Petal Sleeve dress from J. Crew ($198.00) is a fool proof option no matter what company you’re interviewing at, no matter what season it is and will pretty much be stylish for the rest of your life. It’s definitely an investment piece, but worth it for a go-to interview look that will last you for years. Funk it up by throwing on a fun collar statement necklace (like the Veld Bib Necklace from Anthropologie, $48) or add a pop of color with your heel.
If you’ve reached the big 2-5 or it’s rapidly approaching, you’re probably already well aware of the power of a blazer. Throwing one on can make almost anything look neater and more professional at the drop of a hat. One of my favorite “updated” blazer trends include jackets with a cropped cut (like Asos’ Cropped Blazer with Clean Lapel, $85.74, ). Throw this on over a silk cami and dark, neat jeans for a more casual interview look (if that’s what makes sense for the company you’re interviewing for).
If You Wouldn’t Wear It To Your Grandpa’s 75th Birthday,
Don’t Wear It To The Interview
The only other thing more important than context is making sure you have the right fit. That super tight, sexy pencil skirt that shows off all of your ass-ets? Not appropriate for an interview (and really, you should probably just throw it out). The last thing you want to do is distract your interviewer with what you’re wearing or appear as if you’re trying to show off your body. It’s awkward and your interviewer will probably think you’ve lost some of your marbles.