The alarm clock rings but you have been laying there for the last hour contemplating your every move for today’s big interview. Today is your shot, your shot at your first ‘big girl’ or ‘big boy’ job. Your every move has been thought out, like a strategic game of chess. You know what you’re going to say, how you will conduct yourself and have prepared a well-organized portfolio of your work. The one thing you can’t seem to land on is, “what to wear, does dressing for success really mean wearing a necktie?” You look over at the pile of clothes on the floor from last night’s outfit planning session, still perplexed on how you should dress for this interview. You stagger over to your closet, fling open the closet doors and immediately feel discouraged. The voice of your archaic first-year Business 101 professor plays in your head telling you to ‘dress for the job, you want.’ While his definition for dressing for the job you want most certainly meant neckties and uncomfortable shoes, you can’t wrap your head around whether or not this is the way to go. So many CEOs from the former Steve Jobs to Sergio Marchionne, Mark Zuckerberg and Mark Cuban today instruct their employees to follow their laid back style. What is the right chess move here? Should you go with the stuffy suit and red power tie or will your well-fitted chinos, and paisley patterned button shirt do the trick?
Here is the answer:
‘Dressing for the job you want’ really is no longer defined by a boxy suit or a pair of uncomfortable high heels and formless sheath dress. I mean yes, for a few places this may be the way to go – the financial service industry and well…funeral homes – but in most cases, this is no longer the case. Here are a few rules when “dressing for success, or the job you want.”
1.) Do Your Research
If that means driving by the place you are applying to see what others are wearing or spending a few hours researching the company’s culture – do it! Check out the company’s website; chances are you can make a lot of solid assumptions about a company’s culture based on the website. Whatever you do, do not wear something that is going to make you stick out like the old cliché saying ‘a sore thumb.’ Your confidence will immediately dwindle if you walk through those doors in a stuffy suit and everyone is wearing well-fitted dark jeans and button ups. Whatever you do choose an outfit that fits the company’s culture.
2.) Comfort and Confidence Go Hand in Hand
Dressing for success does not mean squeezing your feet into an uncomfortable pair of stilettos or sweating buckets in an uncomfortable suit on a hot summer day. Wear comfortable, stylish clothes that reflect your personality. Pair a classic blazer with a well-fitted pair of chinos, opt for a cute pair of ankle boots, patterned tights, and sweater dress – find the perfect balance between style, comfort and professionalism and you will confidently maneuver through your interview. If you are busy wiping beads of sweat from your forehead and can’t breathe because your skirt is cutting off your air supply, chances are that will make it hard to focus throughout the interview.
3.) Be True to You
By this we mean if you are a quirky, creative genius applying to be the Creative Director of a company, please do not show up in a suit. Show up in something that rings true to the position you are trying to land and speaks volumes as to who you are as an individual. If you are not, and never have been, a suit and tie kind of guy or can’t get behind the notion of wearing a female power suit every day, do not show up to the interview in one. Be true to yourself and your personal sense of style, give the employer insight as to who you are as an individual. By no means are you given a free pass to dress like a complete slob; you should, of course, be put together and polished but don’t overdo it if that isn’t who you are and most definitely doesn’t reflect the company.
Now that you know what you know, navigating that pile of clothes all over the floor should be a lot easier, just don’t forget to iron anything that may be wrinkled now. Checkmate, you win!