How to Dress Like A Grownup: Dress For The Job (Search)

The Day Job is hiring for several positions right now, so I’ve interviewed a number of applicants. One thing that’s struck me, particularly with it being a fashion-related job, is how few people come dressed appropriately to apply or to interview. I understand how challenging it can be to judge the level of formality necessary, so here are some tips for dressing appropriately.

  • If you’re going in to get an application, you should be dressed the same way as if you were going for an official interview. The old cliche about never getting a second chance to make a first impression is absolutely true.
  • If you’re going to wear fragrance, go very, very light. Individual tastes in fragrance vary so widely that you don’t want to set the interviewer against you by wearing something they don’t like. My go-to is to wear a very little bit of something very clean and soapy, like Pure Grace by Philosophy.
  • If the job doesn’t involve dressing up, you don’t necessarily have to wear a suit. If you present as male, it’s usually a good idea to go wearing the full suit, but watch as you’re going into the building. If the people going in are wearing jackets, wear yours. If not, take it off and leave it in the car. A dress shirt, tie, and slacks will read very differently (and much more universal) than a formal suit. There are exceptions; always, always wear a suit if the job is in banking, government, law, or law enforcement, or if you’d otherwise be wearing a suit on the job.
  • A tank top and shorts never constitute interview attire, no matter how informal the work environment is. If that’s what you’d be wearing on the job, then go business casual for the interview, with a polo or button-front shirt and a crisp pair of khakis.
  • Leave your club-worthy stilettos at home, especially if it’s a job where you’d be working on your feet all the time. Party clothes are nice, but they’re not work clothes.
  • If you’re interviewing for a position where you’d be wearing a suit, navy is always a good choice. There’s a certain psychology to color (more about that in a later post), and blues read as approachable and trustworthy. In addition, navy is one of the four “core” suit colors (black, charcoal, navy, and brown) that are typically the safe-bet colors.
  • Unless the job would involve selling piercing jewelry or it’s encouraged in the environment, take out your piercings or put in retainers. Also, if your hair’s an unusual color that wouldn’t be allowed in the work environment, consider dyeing it to a natural color until you get the job and can find out about the dress code in more detail.
  • My personal go-to in an interview is a pair of black dress pants and a fairly dressy top in a jewel tone. Any non-clashing color would do for the top, though–just don’t go white shirt and black pants. It’ll make you look like a waiter.

The absolute most important part of dressing for an interview, though, is to go in something that makes you feel confident. You can be dressed impeccably, but you still have to carry yourself like a professional. Good luck!


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