Tips for dressing for success
The first three minutes of your interview are most critical because you get but one chance for a good first impression. Before you can utter your first word, your appearance has already spoken volumes about you. While it does not speak of your job skills, your appearance will be judged in some respects by what you wear. Therefore, your clothing should not only make you feel good about yourself but also project a professional image matching the requirements of the position and the company.

The key to projecting a professional image is, first and foremost, to dress tastefully and conservatively. Beyond that, the guidelines are simple.

Guidelines for women

Dresses, suits: conservative business suit or dress of a natural or woven-blend fabric in a soft color complementing your skin and hair color -- blue, navy, gray, beige, tan or brown. Skirt length should be at least to the bottom of the knee.

Blouses: simple style, white or soft colors. Avoid very frilly styles and low-cut necklines.

Shoes: sensible shoes; polished pumps or medium heels in a color that matches your outfit.

Hose: natural, beige, or tan; avoid patterns or lacy stockings.

Purse: (optional) small or medium size in a color that goes with your outfit.

Nail polish: either clear or conservative color.

Makeup: moderate.

Jewelry: simple, minimal. One set of earrings only. No more than one ring on each hand.

Guidelines for men

Suits: dark blue, gray, brown, or very muted pin-stripes. A good-quality woven blend of natural fibers looks professional. Suits should be properly tailored and freshly dry-cleaned.

Shirts: a good quality, white button-down or white classic collar preferred. Most importantly, make sure the shirt is pressed.

Ties: silk or good quality blends only. Conservative stripes or paisleys that complement your suit. The tip of a tie should end near the center of the belt buckle.

Shoes: highly polished slip-ons or laced dress shoes in black, brown, or cordovan. Dark socks.

Facial hair: no beards; mustaches are a possible negative. If you must, make sure it is neatly trimmed.

Jewelry: no chains, bands, or necklaces showing. No rings other than wedding ring or college ring. No earrings (if you normally wear one, take it out.)

For both women and men

Well-groomed hairstyle.

Clean, manicured fingernails.

Minimal perfume or cologne. Best if applied at least two hours before the interview. A little goes a long way in a small, closed interview room.

Empty pockets? no tinkling change or bulges.

No gum or cigarettes.

No body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.)

Pay attention to even smallest details. Interviewers often consider the condition of your shoes as a way to tell whether you pay attention to detail. To that end, avoid shoes that are not shined or that have run-down heels.

Suppose it's a dinner interview?

The dinner interview may be a semi-formal or formal function. The written invitation will usually indicate whether the event is semi-formal or formal. For the semi-formal dinner, men's wear is typically a nice, dark colored suit with a white shirt; women may wear a knee-length business suit or a cocktail length dress. For a formal dinner or a black-tie event, men should wear a tuxedo with no tails, and women, a long dress with matching shoes. Low-cut, sexy dresses or colorful, far-out ties are not appropriate for either of these functions.

Just use common sense

If you show up for your interview dressed in business attire and your potential employer is not, don't worry. It is far better to be dressed professionally than to be dressed too casually. Employers want people who are broad based in their abilities to learn, grow, and contribute, employees who are flexible. Being dressed in a suit won't hurt your ability to be seen as someone employable.

Remember, your competence is not based on what you wear but rather on your business and personal knowledge and skills. Clothing simply allows you to state who you are and helps you to reach your professional goals. Appearance can be a powerful and useful tool in controlling the kind of message you send to others. With a little common sense and attention to details, you can easily make sure that first impression is your best.

Written By: Sher Creel
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