It's said body language accounts for 50% of business communication, but how much are we communicating with what we wear? As much as some might try to resist, our attire accounts for a huge part of what we communicate to others every day. Whether you’re preparing for an interview or stepping into the office for a quick meeting, attention to detail when building a work wardrobe can go a long way. Set the tone for every business encounter with your best foot forward. Here are some quick rules of thumb to make a great impression.
Job Interview Attire – Dress the Part
First impressions are everything. That is especially true when it comes to interviewing for a new role. To prepare for an interview, dress for the role you’re applying for, and then elevate that look. For cues to how formal or casual your job interview attire needs to be, take a look at the company's website. How they present themselves online is a good indication of how they see themselves and want to see you.
If you’re interviewing for a role as an executive or member of a professional office, having a good neutral suit is always a safe bet. Black, navy, or gray suits are all great options and guaranteed to subconsciously communicate your professional intentions.
Make sure that your suit fits your shoulders and your sleeves hit your wrists at the appropriate place. An over-sized suit can look sloppy, especially with dress pants that don’t hit at the right ankle length.
For those interviewing for a more casual role, nice-fitting clothes are still key. A nice, wrinkle-free shirt with a nice pair of slacks is a great combination to impress. Adding an extra layer with a casual cardigan or sport coat makes for a sleek look without appearing “over-dressed”.
Professional Work Attire
Though traditional professional work attire is slowly on the way out, never estimate the power of a great suit. Having the option of putting on a well-fitting suit for a client or upper-management meeting will serve you well. Pairing a neutral suit with a pop of color underneath – like a colorful shirt or a fun tie – will keep the outfit interesting and less stiff. Don’t let Google images fool you, there are more options than just black and white! A nice pair of black or brown shoes for men is the best way to mix and match different looks. For women, a clean set of pumps with a secret pair of commuter flats in your purse is the key to success. You're welcome, arches.
Business Casual & Casual Attire
Most companies have moved to business casual attire by now, and that has opened up a whole new set of options. The key here is not to over-cling to the word “casual” but instead, focus on the concept of variety. If you opt for jeans, pair them with a nice button-up or throw on a casual shirt (with a collar for an interview) and a blazer. Layering casual fabrics with dressier shapes is a great way to pair comfort with professional. If you prefer a nicer pant, there’s no need for a blazer, but you probably won't regret wearing one. No matter what form of casual your company encourages – stay away from the hoodie!
If you’re part of the digital workforce and don’t have to physically be in an office – all you need to worry about is business on the top, vacation on the bottom. Whatever that means for you!
“It’s all in the details.” Not a lie. Keeping a well-kept bag, un-scuffed shoes, and clean fingernails go a long way in communicating your attention to the little things. At the end of the day, the big things are just an accumulation of the little things. Whether it's fair or not, employers will assume that if you take pride in the way you present yourself, you'll take pride in your work.
As you already know, our attire accounts for a huge part of what we communicate to others every day. Pay attention to the details. If you present yourself in a way that reflects the work you have to offer, you'll make a great impression. Though looks are certainly not everything, and not necessarily indicative of your work, they do have a lot to speak on your behalf, before you even introduce yourself.
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