Career Fashion: Forward
“If you’re not dressed well, you can say all the right things … but you won’t get the job when you’re being compared with a lot of other capable people who are dressed better.”
-Kim Zoller, founder and president of Image Dynamics
Let’s be blunt: your appearance matters; especially in a professional environment. Research shows that your appearance strongly influences other people’s perceptions of your financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence, and suitability for hire or promotion.
Considering this, you need to know how to dress professionally and presentably. Keep these tips in mind:
- A boring gray pant suit does not cut it anymore. Employers are expecting more! Having style can show you’re organized, approachable and fresh. Just because you’re entering the “adult world” doesn’t mean you have to give up all aspects of your identity and uniqueness: it just means you need to incorporate your distinctive style into professional outfits. Socks, ties, and jewelry can be easy ways to make a conservative outfit more distinctive.
- Location matters. Coming from Southern California, I know that West Coast businesses expect students to have a strong sense of fashion. Bright colors, open toed shoes and bold accessories are more acceptable on the West Coast than on the East Coast, so that’s where it may be okay – and even expected – that you bring some style.
- Fashion and flexibility also depend on the job and the company. A graphic artist working at a new technology start-up has more freedom in their work wardrobe compared to a financial advisor working in a corporate bank. Be sure to understand the atmosphere of the office and, if you’re unsure, stand outside the organization at 5pm and watch how current employers are dressed as they come out of the office.
- Dress conservatively for a career fair or interview. Don’t underestimate the company or position you are applying for when going for an interview. You should always dress in business professional/conservative clothes for an interview—whatever the position. If you’re unsure, remember to dress for the position you want, not the job you have.
- Wear what you feel confident and comfortable in. (As long as it’s appropriate for the position.) You are making an impression when you walk in the door; your wardrobe should matches your impressive skills and experience, but your confidence will provide the most convincing sell. Yes, your work should matter more than your wardrobe but looking professional and stylish will set you apart at work and during your interview.
-Mehanna, Career Peer Mentor