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Dress to Impress

The importance of proper attire cannot be overly emphasized. A recent survey indicated that approximately 40% of all employment rejections were based on personal presentation, which includes dress and grooming.

So what is proper attire? It will often depend on the organization with which you are interviewing. By researching the company, you can find out in advance how formal or informal the dress code is. But, according to Linda Travis, an Atlanta image consultant, even if you find out that XYZ Company is basically a business casual operation, it would be wise to keep your interview attire on the conservative side, since most recruiters are expecting it.

Unless you are trying to land a job that is very clearly creative/artistic (photographer, commercial artist, musician, actress, etc.), it makes sense to wear the traditional garb. Here are a few tips to help you make that key first impression:

Formal Business Attire

Formal business attire is normally worn for more formal business events such as interviews. Below are some tips for dressing appropriately in formal business attire for men and women.

Formal Business Attire for Men

Basics
  • Traditional two-piece suit, or sport jacket with dress trousers in a dark color (no khakis).
  • White freshly-pressed shirt with a plain (no graphics or print) undershirt.
  • Conservative print or solid tie. No "theme" ties. Shoes should be polished, and with a hard bottom, no rubber soles, worn with dark socks.
  • Hair and facial hair should be neatly groomed and trimmed. Long hair should be worn in a low, neat ponytail. However, being clean shavenand having a short haircut is generally preferred by recruiters.
Accessories
  • Jewelry should be kept to a minimum, and can include a wedding band, class or other signet ring, and watch.
  • All body piercings, including earrings, should be removed.
  • All tattoos should be covered if possible.
  • Do not wear cologne or aftershave. Your interviewer may be allergic! Your personal hygiene products will provide enough fragrance.
  • Limit the size of bags/briefcases and avoid over-stuffing them.No backpacks. A simple leather-like portfolio and planner will suffice.

Formal Business Attire for Women

Basics
  • Traditional pant or skirt suit, in a dark color. Skirts should not be short and you should be able to comfortably sit without having to pull on the skirt.
  • Subtle colored blouse/shirt that is not low cut or tightly fitted.
  • Shoes should have a low heel and be conservative in style and color.
  • Hair should be neatly groomed. Long hair can be worn pulled back.

Accessories

  • Jewelry should be kept to a minimum, and can include a wedding band, class or other signet ring, and watch.
  • All body piercings, except earrings, should be removed. Earring should be simple and understated.
  • All tattoos should be covered if possible.
  • Do not wear perfume or scented lotion. Your interviewer may be allergic! Your personal hygiene products will provide enough fragrance.
  • Limit the size of bags/briefcases and avoid over-stuffing them. No backpacks. A simple leather-like portfolio and planner will suffice.

Business Casual

Acceptable Business Casual Attire: Women

  • Pantsuits are a wise choice for a business casual event, e.g.,information session, tour of facility, etc.
  • A classic sheath paired with a cardigan or a blazer in the same fabric and color is  a good choice.
  • Crisp, cotton shirts in white, chambray and chartreuse added to dress pants, khakis, or skirts make a casual outfit.
  • Cardigan twin sets are also an easy way to present a more casual look while still looking professional.
  • Jewelry, scarves and other accessories will add a polished finish to an outfit. Remember though, "less is more."
  • Shoes should still be well made and close-toed - no extremes. Flats are appropriate.
  • Hose are not essential for business casual, but recommended for skirts.
  • Kneehighs or trouser socks are suggested with pants.

Acceptable Business Casual Attire: Men

  • A sports coat creates a pulled together look in a business casual environment and eliminates the need for a tie. Pair up the sports coat with khakis or dark pants.
  • Traditional dress slacks, khakis, Dockers, corduroys, wool flannel and linen slacks are appropriate with or without a blazer. Be sure to press them beforehand.
  • Casual button-down oxford shirts are a great alternative to dress shirts, with or without a tie. Choose basic white, chambray or pinstripe.
  • Oxfords and loafers in brown or black are a good match for khakis or corduroys.

Unacceptable Business Casual Attire: Men and Women

  • Jeans or denim pants, shorts
  • Leggings/stretch/stirrup/sweat pants, spandex or other form fitting pants
  • Athletic shoes, hiking boots, sandals or flip flops
  • Flannel shirts or T-shirts
  • Hats/caps
  • Tube-tops, Tank-tops,

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