By Taylar Kobylas
The old saying “dress to impress” is something we hear constantly in the professional world. When attending a formal interview, it is important to not only be your best self, but present yourself as such, too. A professional image is the first way an organization or interviewer sees you, so it is key to make the right first impression.
There are tons of ways to express yourself via modern apparel and unique items that make you stand out. Here are some suggested must-haves to help you shine at your next interview:
1. Discover your signature item/color
- There’s always an item in your closet that, when you put it on, makes you feel like a million bucks. Even established professionals say that a brand or item sometimes gives them a feeling of power…and it shows. For example, my go-to interview color is blue. From royal blue to navy, blue can be professional enough to make an impact yet colorful enough to reflect my personality. Sometimes it helps employers remember you, even when they can’t do so by name; i.e., “Was she the one with the blue dress?” Uncover your signature color or style (a great start for guys is Macy’s suit quiz!) and work it for all it’s worth.
2. Find your strut in black dress shoes
- Now despite the conversation about color, black is the new black. Always. You can’t go wrong pairing a professional outfit with classic black dress shoes. Ladies, think closed-toe, with 2 inches or less worth of heel. Fellas, a pair of wing tips never goes out of style with a suit.
3. Work the perfect pair of dress pants
- The ultimate item in versatility, a great pair of dress pants can be paired with anything. Everyone should have some in their arsenal. Splurge a little to have them tailored perfectly and put your best foot forward, literally.
4. Rock some rocks
- A little bling goes a long way. I love to wear a classy statement necklace and usually get compliments on them at interviews! Invest in two to three statement pieces like great earrings or unique cufflinks to enhance any professional outfit. Employers will take note of your detailed diligence.
5. Say no to B.O.
- It goes without saying that not only should you look the part, but feel and smell the part, too. Particular scents sometimes evoke memories or emotions in people, so make them feel the right ones! Use a perfume or cologne sampler to highlight your mood, whatever that may be. Additionally, consider avoiding scents with an overly risqué title. You never know when someone may ask, “What is that perfume you’re wearing?” and you have to answer, “Very Sexy for her…” Awkward.
6. You’re never fully dressed without a smile
- Cheesy but true, happiness is contagious! Bring a smile and positive attitude and you’re off to a better start than most applicants. Companies look for someone who is not only going to work hard, but bring a positive outlook to the table every day.
Most importantly, these things don’t have to break the bank! Optimism and determined bargain hunting will help you stay on budget, yet attain what you need. For a good start, check out T.J. Maxx’s selection of day dresses, Marshall’s career departments (particularly for sweaters and ties) or Banana Republic for tons of great accessories. A little searching goes a long way and is worth every effort.
The rest is up to you. In the words of iconic stylist and designer Tim Gunn: make it work!