Interview outfit – what do you want your clothes to say about you?
The first day of school feeling never goes away. There’s the familiar but never comfortable nervous pit in your stomach, coupled by the intense pressure to make a good first impression and be impressive. You may also remember the importance of planning out your first day of school outfit. It was imperative that you had the perfect combination laid out the night before, an outfit that would set the tone for the pending scholastic year.
That infamous first day of school feeling is sure to return the night before any new experience, particularly before a job interview. The importance of planning your job interview outfit cannot be understated. To make the process a little easier, just follow the four C’s: colour, confidence, comfortable, and culture.
“Men in Black” may have been a blockbuster, but should not be rule of thumb for interview candidates. A black suit is always a safe bet. However, avoid the following two combinations. An all black outfit – black suit and black top – may be a little off-putting, dark, and uninteresting. The other interview wardrobe faux pas is the penguin – black suit and white top – this is the uniform for extras on Happy Feet and serving staff. These are two mental images you do not wish to evoke during an interview.
The easy fix, wear colour! Adding colour to an interview outfit is a simple switch for men or women. For example, a pop of colour in a fashionable tie or pair of socks looks smart and is attention grabbing in the right way. There are innumerable options for women, such as jewel-tone blouses, silk shells in bright colours or interesting prints, and statement jewelry that pulls in a complementary colour in the stone. You want to be noticed during an interview. Give yourself an extra boost by adding a colour boost to your interview outfit.
You can google what to wear on an interview, image after image of generic, stock model wearing a grey suit and light blue shirt will come up. These outfits are absolutely devoid of personality, and mean nothing to you as an individual interview candidate.
Rather than wearing what you think you should be wearing, wear what you want to wear, within the confines of propriety. Wear what makes you feel confident, what will make you feel empowered, and whatever it is that makes you stand a little taller. Whether it be a favourite colour, lucky earrings, perfectly tailored blazer or stellar shoes, choose an interview outfit that will make you shine because you feel good about the way you look. Lastly, confidence is always a perfect accessory to any interview outfit.
Interviews can be uncomfortable, so be sure you walk in as comfortable as possible. Dressing comfortable does not mean your favourite hoodie and yoga pants. Dressing comfortably for an interview means dressing in clothes that you don’t have to worry about. Clothes, especially suits must be tailored and fit properly. Pant or skirt hems should not be too short, so that you are thinking about how much ankle or thigh is exposed when sitting across from your interviewer. Pants and skirts that are too tight over the hips will pucker or smile. Your face should be the only the smile during an interview.
Similarly, button-up shirts, shells or blouses should be airy and never too tight, you’ll appreciate this when you’re sitting in the hot seat. Lastly, those brand new dress shoes or towering heels may look great, but may not be practical for a full tour of the office. Wear sensible and comfortable shoes so that you can keep up, wherever your interview takes you.
Dressing comfortable means you don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing or how it looks. Instead, you can devote all your attention and energy to the task at hand, nailing your interview.
Corporate Culture (and the fifth C, Conservative or Creative)
Lawyers in particular are not known for their creative and daring fashion. Of the Bay Street industries, the legal industry may be the most conservative when it comes to the catwalk. With that in mind, dress for the corporate culture in which you are interviewing. The fifth C of interviewing for an associate position at a law firm may just be “conservative.” If you’re interviewing for a marketing, advertising, art-related position, replace conservative with “creative.” It all depends on the corporate culture.
This means, for law firms, choose darker suit colours as a rule of thumb, such as a medium to deep grey, navy or black. Skirt suits are still considered more conservative than pantsuits for women. While these rules that are not set in stone, they continue to be good guidelines to follow.
For more tips about corporate style and fashion for female lawyers and executives, and general advice about what to wear to interviews, be sure to check out Corporette’s take on the matter.