Whenever you are about to graduate, you get this mixed feeling of bereavement for bidding adieu to an important chapter in your life while also acquainting yourself to a sense of achievement for having built something for your own self – even if it all remains on paper for the time.
The next important step in your journey comes in the form of finding a career in your choice of industry. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur with a business plan in mind and some funds to back it up, then all you have to do is to focus on making your dreams come true (which is more hard work than it seems here). However, if you have to find a job in order to gain some experience in a professional setting, then the task and notion of going through yet another phase of interviews and being presentable right after completing your degree might seem daunting to you.
But with that thought, you also need to remember that when it comes to a professional and career setting, exuding confidence through how you carry yourself is just as important as how assertive and self-assured you seem through your communication in an interview.
While many people try polishing up their soft skills for that important face-to-face session, they often neglect that having an aesthetically strong profile matters just as much. This is where they make one of the biggest mistakes, a lack of professional appearance tells the interviewer that they are not serious enough toward the job by not putting forth an effort to dress according to its requirements.
But since sprucing yourself up for an interview and giving yourself a business makeover might be the last thought on your mind at this transitioning stage of your life, we thought to put together a brief yet helpful guide so you know exactly what you need to do in order to be presentable and professional in an interview setting, which would help you go a long way and not just get written off by the potential employer as yet another college grad.
Dress according to the employer’s requirements
If you are about to head into a non-profit, then wearing a $1000 suit might not be a good idea. Similarly, if you are to give an interview at a revered financial institution, then showing up in your skinny jeans would be the worst fashion crime that you could commit.
Therefore, you need to know the appropriate dress code according to the employer that you are heading into an interview with. For most cases, business casual is the safest choices to make, but in others, you can also be a little daring and make conscious choices to flaunt your sense of fashion through crisp jackets or casual button-downs.
In case you are working at a place where wearing slacks and tie would not earn you anything but ridiculous looks from other future co-workers, then go with your gut and take the casual route.
However, it does not mean that you show up in your shorts, but rather keep it casual to a point where it can pass off as a mixture of modesty and style.
In a casual setting, women can easily wear jeans or even skirts that they could pair up with a casual top, blouse and an optional jacket and scarf.
While you do not need to wear a power suit skirt to a casual place, try keeping your choice of skirt at a modest length. Embellished or ripped jeans would also be a big no unless you have somehow landed a job at a mosh pit (lucky you, then).
When it comes to footwear, avoid anything you would only pair up with evening wear such as high platform heels. Instead, go for moderately sized heels, converse or even casual pumps.
This gets trickier for men, for whom “going casual” means to wear a hoodie or a simple t-shirt.
However, if you show up at a potential employer’s building wearing something as comfortable as a hoodie, then you will not be taken seriously. Therefore, it is best if you keep your casual wear to a simple pair of jeans, a casual double pocketed button down along with a pair of loafers or boots.
If it’s cold outside, then you can also wear a casual jacket to go with your ensemble, just try not to wear one with funny one-liners or offensive words, as that will come off as a big negative towards the employer.
Now this is something that you will need to adapt yourself to no matter if you get the coveted job or not, since mastering the art of wearing effective business casual outfits is essential to function in a professional environment.
However, it is really not a difficult feat to achieve. All that you need to know are just a few basics of walking the thin line between being embarrassingly overdressed to frighteningly underdone in terms of fashion.
As a simple rule, remember that anything with denim is out of question. This would include your pair of jeans, denim skirts (if you own one at all), and any jacket with witty style statements on them.
Instead, go for slightly casual blouses that you can easily mix up with a knee-length pencil skirt, or shirts that would do the job just as well. You may also go for dresses that are tailored for office use and not too heavy on their use of plunging necklines or bare shoulders.
The choice of footwear here would shift towards formal shoes, so try not to wear sneakers or strappy heels.
Business casual would perhaps be the easiest dress code to follow for a man, as all they would need to do is to wear a smart dress shirt with a pair of slacks and some dress shoes, and you are ready to go and punch some numbers in.
With this dress code, you could play it up a bit and also wear a tie or vest from time to time, but do not overdo it by pairing it with a suit jacket too often as then you will be delving into the highly professional dress code. The key here is to wear either a tie or a jacket, but not both at once.
When it comes to this dress code, you will find that a suit is the safest choice, no matter which gender you identify with. Always ensure that you never wear a creased shirt underneath your jacket, since you might think that you are able to one-up the interviewer – but that really wouldn’t be the case.
Always dress to the nines with this one.
When it comes to suits for women, you have the liberty to combine a suit jacket with either a formal skirt or a pair of slacks. The same goes for your choice of top, where you can either go for a loose and flowing blouse or a crisp dress shirt. The best choice of shoes to wear is Mary Janes, but you can also go with slightly high heels to give off that aura of confidence.
Men have fewer choices when it comes to suits, but that doesn’t mean that they can only wear a tie and shirt under their suit jacket.
Unlike business casual, here you can easily pair up a tie and vest combo. If possible, accessorize just a bit with cufflinks and tie pins. For shoes, chose ones that are comfortable but still give off that aura of formal wear, and you’ll be good to go.
What Not to Wear
As a simple rule of thumb, avoid wearing anything to work that you wouldn’t wear to a dinner party. This very basic advice can actually prove to be very beneficial since it would keep you away from making disastrous fashion choices (looking at you, Crocs).
As a concluding thought, don’t over-accessorize. To let that sink in, here are a few choice words by Coco Chanel to live by:
“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”