Good news: The days of having to wear a black or navy blue business suit to a job interview are over.
Bad news: Things have gotten a lot more complicated.
Better news: We have a few tips for what to wear for your next job interview to make a great first impression.
First off, it’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t wear a blue or black business suit and white blouse. That’s fine. But if you choose to do so, do it because it is the best expression of you, your business style, and your personal brand.
Wardrobe consultant and personal stylist Angela Niznik runs Connecticut-based StylingSeed.com and specializes in bringing out women’s best styles, whether you’re attending an event, staying at home, or going to work. She stresses the importance of maximizing the pieces in your closet and says the key to wearing anything successfully is in focusing on how the clothes make you feel.
“It’s about having confidence,” Niznik says. Even the most mundane tasks will go better if you feel good in what you are wearing.
For a job interview, she recommends letting your personality shine through, but not so much that the clothes overpower you.
“It’s important to leave a good first impression, not be too flashy, and leave them with a striking memory,” Niznik says. “I’m all about that effortless style.”
She recommends wearing staples, such as pencil skirts or dark pants (they can be cropped, wide leg, straight, or skinny with a high waist). Button-down shirts and turtlenecks pair nicely. A good blazer is a professional finishing touch. Color, texture, and pattern can add personality based on your own tastes. A pair of great heels or boots can pull together your look nicely.
Niznik recommends that you go for “conservative, but you could have a pop of color to draw attention — a belt or piece of jewelry.”
The right accessories can go a long way in completing an outfit. A lot of women have great closets, but they don’t know how to work with what they have. Niznik says, “The dress is just the easiest thing. You’re one zip away from being done.”
Dressing for your true size is important. Make sure skirts aren’t too short, shirts aren’t too low cut, and pants aren’t too tight. On the other hand, ensure that you’re not swimming in your clothes so you don’t appear sloppy. Another key ingredient to dressing sharply is being mindful of colors and knowing which colors work best for you. You want to wear colors that make you pop rather than washing you out. Looking washed out is nearly as bad as being too wild. “Pops of color are great, but you don’t want to be distracting.” Patterns are fun, and they can be subtle rather than distracting for interviews.
Maybe most importantly, don’t wait until the day of the interview to plan what you’ll wear.
Niznik says, “It’s important to plan your outfit ahead of time and make sure nothing is wrinkly so that you’re not stressing on the morning of. There are other things to worry about for a big interview!”
While fashion magazines would have you believe the only way to be successful is to be dressed in designer labels head to toe, the truth is that a well-put-together outfit goes much further than a closet full of labels piled upon each other.
On the other hand, if it’s not in your closet, don’t get hung up on it, Niznik says. Great style can mix high-end items with moderately priced ones. Having a nice leather work bag makes a great statement, but you don’t need to break the bank if you don’t have the budget for one. It’s about pulling a look that you love together so you can look and feel confident during the interview process.
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