Young, fresh, profesh
Transitioning from school style to workplace wear can be tough. Amy Casson, Owner of Polished Image, and Mirella Zanatta, Owner of First Impressions Image Consulting, have some tips for how you can dress appropriately for an interview without feeling like you're wearing your mom's twin set or your dad's suit.
Zanatta strongly recommended a good stylist. "It's well worth the investment because it's something that is so noticeable." Obviously ensure your hair is clean and well groomed. Casson also suggested keeping your hair neat and out of your face.
Makeup is a must, said Casson. "What potential employers interpret that as is you can take care of the details on your person, and therefore, you're capable of taking care of details on the job." Zanatta said, "Makeup should be minimal. You want to appear natural."
"Accessories are probably the number-one way you can show your personality. Just be careful it's not too over the top," said Casson for creative fields, such as writing or marketing, where they're expecting you to have some flair — show it, she said.
Depending on the industry, you could choose to wear a blazer or a nice cardigan to the interview. Cardigans are more approachable, creative and accessible, said Casson, while blazers are a higher level of dress and look more professional.
"Your clothing should be giving the message of what's inside of you," said Zanatta. Casson said you can use patterned, textured and coloured fabric to show off your creativity. Zanatta cautioned against showing too much cleavage. "(A top should go) no lower than three inches below the collarbone."
"Some females are extremely uncomfortable wearing a skirt," said Zanatta. "I think it's very important that you present confidence, and if ... you're wearing something that you don't feel good in, you won't be confident. So in that case, I'd so go ahead and wear trousers."
Shoes - heels
For interviews in winter weather, Casson recommended bringing a change of shoes. So you don't have to do the interview in your winter boots. "The shoe that's recommended is a basic pump with a heel that's about two to three inches," said Zanatta. Ensure your shoes are polished, look nice, are not scuffed and are up-to-date.
For jobs in a more conservative industry, such as business or finance, keep jewellery simple and minimal. "We want the focus to be with your face," said Zanatta. "Anything that distracts from that is going to distract from your message."
Shoes - flats
If you're uncomfortable in heels, "ballet flats are acceptable as well," said Zanatta. Remember to look professional but feel comfortable — you want to power strut, not wobble in heels.
"A skirt is considered a higher level of dress," said Casson. Pencil skirts should not be too tight and should come to no higher than two inches above the knee when sitting down. When wearing a skirt, you absolutely must wear nylons, said both Zanatta and Casson.
"Typically speaking, what you would do is have a portfolio that speaks to your work," said Casson. "I'd be very careful of the over-the-shoulder bag, because sometimes it looks very heavy, and sometimes that makes our posture look like it's kind of (hunched) forward." Carry a briefcase or purse, but never both, she said. "You'll look like you're overwhelmed."
For conservative fields, a business suit is a must. "The highest power of dress is the three power colours as your suit — navy, black or grey — with a white or beige shirt," said Casson. "Also, the higher the contrast in the two colours, the more powerful and authoritative you're perceived (to be)."
Dresses are easy, said Casson. They're just one thing to buy and they're simple to wear. "Colour, fabric, texture — just make sure that those all send messages about who you are. Be very careful about the message you're sending."
"If you're creative, that's going to show in maybe your choice of a scarf or your jacket," said Zanatta. Casson cautioned against short or bomber style jackets. "There's nothing worse than having a suit with a bomber jacket. It screams 'student.' It screams 'I can't afford a coat.'"
Fit and Stores
- "The first thing that a potential employer notices is the overall look, in particular the fit of the garment," said Casson. "The eye notices things that are out of sync in some way, shape or form. You have to make sure that the fit of the garment is not out of whack, that it fits you properly. Semi-fitted is considered the most professional."
- "My advice is to actually spend some time and learn about your body, because there are different body types. If you dress for your body type, you'll find that you'll feel so much more confident in your clothing," said Zanatta.
- Spend more money on quality over quantity, said Casson. Alterations are your best friend to ensure that the clothes fit you properly.
- Both recommended Banana Republic for youngerlooking suits with age-appropriate fit. For people who are more budget-conscious, Casson recommended stores like RW and Co.
No Matter What Your Outfit
- "Not only your clothes, but your facial expression, your handshake — all of that says volumes about who you are," said Casson.
- Posture is seriously important as well. "You want to go in there shoulders back, head held high, like you own the place, in a way, you're very confident," said Casson. "Your posture is one of the first things they'll notice as well."
- Perfume is a major no. "A lot of businesses nowadays have a no-scent policy, so you don't want to offend right from the get-go," said Casson.
- Keep nail polish neutral, said Zanatta. "Personally, I love to wear the colours and the darks, but if I was going in for an interview, I'd either be natural or it would be neutral like a nude colour. Unless of course you're going into some really artistic field, then it would be okay to be on trend."
- Whether or not to show off your tattoos and piercings depend on industry, said Casson. If possible, err on the side of caution and remove piercings and hide tattoos.
- "I would only suggest colour and prints would be stripes or checks, nothing that's really loud," said Zanatta.
- "They should be wearing a suit jacket and pants that match," said Zanatta. "The fit is important. The back of the trouser should hit the top of the heel, if the leg is really narrow, then just to the top of the shoe … Socks should match either the shoe or their trouser, and they should be executive length socks so if they cross their legs they aren't showing any skin."
- "If they choose to wear a tie, they can really show their personality with a tie," said Casson. The most powerful designs are pin dots, stripes or foulard, and the most powerful colours are burgundy and blue.
For more information Amy Casson and Polished Image Consulting, visit polishedimage.ca. For more information on Mirella Zanatta and First Impressions Image Consulting, visit firstimpressionsimageconsulting.com.