As the New Year starts, many people are thinking about putting their best foot forward to find a new job or re-vamp their business attire. Business attire does not usually change often. Nevertheless, it can be used to differentiate between conservative, business casual, and in some places casual wear. To prove how little business attire really does change, I interviewed one of the top sales people at Saks Fifth Avenue, where I work. Throughout the decades, one of the main changes she has seen concerns medical students. Twenty years ago, medical students used to wear red suits for job interviews. In today’s world, however, medical students can wear navy and black suits. Overall, it is only fitting that dress codes directly relate to the type of profession one has. For example, the banking industry seeks to have their associates dress ultra conservatively — or in other words “play it safe.” After all, you would not want someone who did not dress nicely to handle your well-earned money. In any case, it is better to be overdressed than to be underdressed. From the old adage, “You never can get a second chance to make a first impression.” As a result, you should always make it a good one.
Always dress to impress and have clothing pressed, laundered, and fitted properly. You want the focus to be on you, the person, and not the imperfections of what you are wearing. For example, if you are wearing clothes that have creases and that are poorly fitted, more attention will be drawn to the imperfections of your outfit. That being said, it is imperative to hide excess piercings — the exception being one or two in the ears — and to make sure tattoos are covered. Ladies, please make sure that the hems of your skirts and dresses hit, at a maximum, three inches above the knee. Any hem that is shorter than three inches can evoke a very negative impression. It is also a good idea to wear three pieces when wearing trousers. If you choose to wear a dress trouser, wear two pieces on top. This can be an underpinning or blouse along with either a jacket, structured cardigan, or sweater to complete the look. Sleeveless dresses should have a “loop-over” (an article of clothing that covers the shoulders and upper arms such as a sweater, shawl, or poncho.) Stay away from tee shirts with logos or statements that can be questionable to the company you are representing.
Modern classic suits that have clean lines and vary from grey, navy, and black are always a good choice for business attire. It is best to wear a solid color with a conservative suit. The blouse underneath a blazer needs to be coordinated with the blazer worn on top. It is best to wear moderate shoes, especially ones that are not overly flashy. I would recommend black, brown, or nude shoes. These can be dressy sandals (in some places), mules, flats, heels, or boots. Do not mistake dressy boots for Uggs or sandals for flip-flops. If you are to wear sandals, it is imperative they are not back-less. Casual shoes like TOMS, Birkenstocks and moccasins should be avoided. When accessorizing, wear limited jewelry and do not forget to have a neat, professional haircut.
Hosiery, these days, is a debatable accessory for different jobs. If you do wear them, tan or light hosiery is the best way to go. Southern states and northern states usually require wearing hosiery. However, the West is much more casual and laid back about this rule. When hosiery is not required, make sure that your legs are well groomed. Also, pay special attention to your toes if you wear open toed shoes. However, the gold standard continues to be closed toed shoes. Nevertheless, companies do vary slightly in their expectations. As a result, it is your responsibility to be familiar with the company policy and atmosphere. Also, it is imperative to dress according to the seasons. Manicured nails are a must and should be paired with a nice portfolio or briefcase. Make sure your makeup is sparse and your perfume is very light and not over-powering.
Colors can also impact the way an employer views you. Certain colors register in our brains in different ways. For example:
– Black: Leadership/Power
– Blue: Team Player
– Grey: Logical/Analytical
– Brown: Dependable
– Red: Power
– Green, Yellow, Orange or Purple: Creative
– White: Organized. It also enhances an outfit when used correctly.
If you follow these guidelines and put your best foot forward, you will dazzle your interviewers and bosses. The best accessory to an amazing outfit is your attitude. Luckily, when you get dressed up, it is natural to feel good about yourself. Even others can sense this radiating self-confidence. Good luck on your new job search or in revamping your business style. Knock em’ dead.