Dress For Success

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have just recently graduated from college and have been on the hunt for employment since moving to back to my hometown. After sending out a slew of resumes and following up with prospective employers, I have been contacted by some and have several interviews scheduled for next week. What are some suggestions and guidelines that I should follow when choosing what to wear to the appointments?

Thanks for the great question. I am sure many of our readers have been plagued by the same question of “what do I wear?”

Remember, you only have one shot to make a GREAT first impression! Being dressed appropriately for an interview or job fair is a key component of landing your next position. Follow these simple guidelines to make sure you fit the part.

  • Be sure you look clean. Shower before your interview. For women, your hair, make-up, and overall appearance should be on the conservative side. For men, be sure you are clean shaven and hair is well groomed.
  • Cover all visible tattoos and remove excessive piercings. As a general rule, earrings are acceptable, but any oversized or loud jewelry could be off-putting.
  • Clean, iron, and press the clothing you will be interviewing in. Stains, wrinkles, and creases can deter employers from selecting you as their next candidate. If you look sloppy and careless, how much will you care about your work performance and professionalism in the workplace?
  • Stay away from see-through or low-cut blouses, jeans, sandals, and t-shirts during an interview. Men should wear long-sleeved, button-down shirts and preferably a tie. Women should not have bare shoulders or skin-tight clothing. You want to show your interviewer that you are taking this opportunity seriously and have dressed up for the occasion.
  • Make sure your clothing also fits you properly. Shirts are the right size (not too big or too small); pants and coat sleeves are hemmed to the appropriate length.
  • Skirts should be no shorter than 3 inches above the knee. Cropped pants for both men and women should be avoided.
  • Avoid or limit the use of perfume and cologne. You want them to remember you for your professional demeanor and ability to communicate, not your new fragrance. Some people may also be allergic or turned away by certain scents.
  • Wash and clean under your finger nails before the interview. Avoid brightly colored nail polish, chipped or distracting manicures, and dirty fingernails.
  • Both men and women should wear closed-toe shoes. Men: if you wear a black belt, wear black shoes. Same with a brown belt; wear brown shoes to match.
  • Women: Make sure your heel is an appropriate height, shoes are not worn or in bad shape, and that your footwear is not distracting. Choose simple conservative colors, patterns, shapes, and styles.
  • Remember what position you are applying or interviewing for. What you would wear to the neighborhood hangout or newest night spot is NOT okay for an interview. Stay away from brightly colored fabrics, shiny or sparkly materials, and embellished shirts.
  • Handbags and briefcases should be neutral in color and style. This is not an opportunity to flaunt or show off your eclectic taste.
  • Turn off your cell phones and other electronics. Even on vibrate, they can be distracting.

Check out this nifty video I found. It has some great pointers with a few laughs along the way. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lara
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 20:59:37

    If you haven’t done a post on the colors on what one should wear when interviewing, cold calling (in person), etc, would you please do it. I’m looking for work and want to be presentable when cold calling & interviewing but it’s hard in this heat to not wear something comfortable. Appreciate your posts; you always have excellent advice.



  2. Trackback: Summer Job Seeking « Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar
  3. Trackback: Summer Job Seeking « Job Talk with Anita Clew
  4. Mary L White
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 09:18:03

    Black and white colors for job interviews. It’s the best way to go



  5. Michael
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 09:52:21




    • ameliarojas
      Jun 14, 2012 @ 17:58:55

      Anita covered everything, great advice and I hope everyone reads it, because like Anita said you only have one shot at making a first impression. Yes, perhaps being conservative is not what you always wear, but be conservative for the Interview and professional at all times.

      I personally always stay away from dresses & skirts and go with very nice elegant pant suits, usually black or dark colors, nothing trendy and especially too tight.

      Also no gum chewing 🙂



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: