A great product will not get sold if it doesn’t come well packaged. You might have all the soft skills, brilliance and academic qualifications necessary to land the job, but there are chances that someone else would be selected because you weren’t dressed right.
The sad part is the one who was selected might not be as competent as you. It matters what you are wearing to the interview, how you look and present yourself.
No, we’re not talking about your looks. That’s not something you can change. But yes, you can always dress to impress.
According to a survey, 37% recruiters don’t hire a candidate because she wasn’t well dressed. Further, 65% of hiring managers believe that dressing becomes a crucial factor when it comes to selecting between two candidates with similar proficiency.
So, what does it take to dress right and impress your interviewers? It doesn’t need to be an expensive task. In most cases, you certainly cannot afford designer clothes when you’re yet to land the job!
10 tips for dressing for success in the workplace
1. Wear solid colours that aren’t distracting
When you’re sitting in an interview, you’d want the interviewers to focus on what you have to say and on your personality rather than the pink paisley shirt you’re wearing.
Floral and busy patterns are not recommended for an interview or, for that matter, any kind of client meeting or any job that needs you to speak to people.
Instead, stick to solid colours that aren’t too loud but go well with your personality and looks. A bright red might look great on any woman, but it’s distracting for the interviewer. You might be taken to be too aggressive for the job. Try the standard blues.
Black and white is a standard choice when it comes to professional attire. A dark blue is also an option you can trust. This makes the interviewer take you as a trustworthy, secure, controlled and calm individual.
Grey too can work well, as it represents sophistication and confidence. It really depends on what kind of interview you’re going for, and what is expected from your role.
2. Invest in a bespoke suit
It won’t be a one-time investment. A well-fitting and tailored suit is always the best choice when it comes to professional attire. However, going for those ready to wear suits might not be a good idea.
Make sure that the dress perfects fits your form – the shoulder pads ending at the shoulders, the sleeves ending where the wrist meets the thumb, the jacket fitting close to your body and such things.
Women should avoid suit pants that pucker and are tight in the front. A tailor-made bespoke suit is the best option because it adds confidence and elegance to your form.
3. Smart casual sophistication
Not all jobs require you to go for a suit, especially if you are trying something in the creative field. Smart casuals, in this case, can easily outperform a strict formal outfit.
For women, it’s easier to get away with decent skirts or trousers but it is necessary to avoid wearing costume jewelry or fabrics that are too flashy.
4. Ink, hair, and piercings
Today, nearly 40% of people in the age group of 19 and 29 have tattoos, studs or piercings. But some employers, especially more conservative ones, can hold an unfavourable view of your ink or piercing.
Your selection will greatly depend on the kind of industry you are working in or looking to work in and the company policies on tattoos and piercings. Or it could just depend on the individual interviewer’s preference.
If you already have visible tattoos that cannot be hidden, compensate with your shining personality. For facial piercings, it is always safer to take them out and cover up the damage, until you’re aware of how they’re perceived in your new workplace.
With your hair, it is always recommended to keep it clean and neat. At work, it’s always better to pin up or pin back unruly locks than letting them distract you from the task at hand.
5. Dress for the job you want
As Jennifer Aniston’s boss says in the movie, Picture Perfect, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” The best way to find a successful dress code is to imitate your boss. If your boss is a jeans-and-tee-shirt guy, you can try the same.
That way, you can hope to be in the same league and the same form of mind, at least when it comes to attire. When you’re wearing something that your boss likes, you could be perceived as trustworthy and friendly.
6. Overdress, don’t under-dress
Plan your outfit like you have a very important meeting, regardless of your schedule for the day.
This makes sure you’re prepared for anything. The worst thing that can happen is that you are the best-dressed person at the meeting!
However, if you’re just wearing regular clothes that cannot be made presentable in a pinch, you may be in trouble.
7. Quality over quantity
Invest in a few good quality outfits, as it will not only add value to your investment in the long run but will also make you look and seem more elegant and stylish.
Quality outfits are worth the cost, rather than fast fashion and cheap throwaway clothes.
8. Comfort rules
When all is said and done, it is also necessary that you’re comfortable in the clothes you wear. If you’re not comfortable, you’ll be more focused on keeping your form than on the interview or with your client.
Well-fitting lingerie is the start of being comfortable. Make sure you wear comfortable lingerie so you’re not constantly fidgeting with your bra straps.
Measure yourself correctly and buy the best fitting brassieres and panties, so that your mind is not distracted all day by poorly-fitting underwear.
If you’re not a suit person, you don’t need to wear them. There are so much more options for women in India than just Western formals. A formal saree or salwar kameez is just as suitable in the Indian environment if comfort is paramount.
In some cases, confidence and charm can prevail over your choice of dressing. That also doesn’t mean that you can go right out of bed to the office! Don’t go for something outlandish if it isn’t you, but don’t be too formless in your dressing either.
9. The devil is in the details
Things like a polished shoe, wrinkle-free clothes, ironed pleats, and hair-free jackets (especially if you have pets at home) matter. The devil is in the details and many interviewers and clients will notice if you’re not well turned out.
10. Be you
At the end of the day, it is important that you don’t lose focus on yourself while trying to decide on a dress code. In the world of fashion, rules can be broken and personality is ultimately all about your sense of style. After all, you don’t want to look boring and you do want to get noticed!
Priya Florence Shah is the Publisher of Naaree.com. Learn what it takes to be a charismatic leader in the Free Leadership Lessons Course. Get a step-by-step road map to Go from Unknown to Well-Known in her Free Personal Branding Email Course.