A dress code is a set of rules with regard to clothing; it’s a part of savoir-vivre. The rules are different depending on the region, country, religion or culture. Nowadays, the most common is the western dress code.
A dress code is an important element of a corporate culture. It shows the respect towards the company’s values, superiors, coworkers and clients. The way you dress also shows your professionalism and involvement towards your tasks.
Each big corporation has its own dress code, though there are some basic rules worth knowing and applying, as when you go to an interview you need to dress for success! An appropriate outfit builds your professional image, and on such a day you should want to look professional, modern and feminine. You may think that the most important factors are your competencies, achievements and experience. Well, yes, but you have to remember that:
First impressions are formed in 7 seconds. 38% of a first impression is based on inflection and tone of voice (how you say things), 7% is based on what you actually say, and a whopping 55% of a first impression comes from NONVERBAL communication! In short, more than half of every first impression is based on how you look!
Your appearance makes or breaks you in the hiring person’s mind. Even if you say all the right things, if your appearance is not pleasing to the person doing the hiring, chances are you won’t be getting the job.
So if you are unsure what to wear to an office interview, then your best choice is a business dress code (professional dress).
BUSINESS DRESS CODE for women
Regardless of whether you apply for a job in a big corporation or a smaller office, you should focus primarily on elegance, good taste, tact and neatness. Your appearance should reflect the job position you are applying for and the company’s policy.
There are different rules in banks or creative agencies; nevertheless the interview has its own rules. So first do some research and get to know the culture and style of the company to which you are applying.
Remember that regardless of whether you like it or not, you make a first impression only once! I believe that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Focus on classic neutrals like: navy, grey, black, brown or bottle green. Remember about the seasons, so when it gets warmer choose lighter tones, i.e. light grey instead of dark grey. I personally would be careful with black, and it’s better to choose navy or gray, although a black skirt or pants will work.
A suit is a blazer and pants or a skirt of the same fabric. It’s important that it should be well tailored and fits you well. A suit emphasizes your professionalism.
A skirt should be pencil or slightly A-line, knee-length. Shorter skirt is perceived in a negative way.
Pants should be below the ankle, and if you wear heeled pumps, then the front of the trouser leg should reach the shoes, and the back should reach the middle of the heel.
Choose a classic cut and color (e.g. white, blue, pale pink) and natural fabric. The shirt shouldn’t be too tight, and be careful with the breast area so the shirt doesn’t open. Forget about patterns (with the exception of stripes), because it doesn’t give a professional and neat look.
You can wear just a shirt with no blazer, but if you are applying for a higher position then a suit is a must.
Instead of a shirt you can choose a top, but remember that the neckline cannot be too low. The top should be of good quality, and it has to be elegant. Anyway, a top is not a t-shirt!
You can wear just a nice, business dress, but remember to choose a classic cut with the sleeves at least ¾ arms-length. The best choice would be a navy or gray dress. You may wear this dress many times in the future; it’s enough to add a nice scarf or a brooch and every time the dress looks different.
SHOES, STOCKINGS AND UNDERWEAR
The shoes should be elegant and closed (you may wear sling back pumps in the summer), leather or suede, and the heel should be max 7-8 cm high. Of course you can also wear moccasins or shorter heels.
Stockings should be nude and similar to your skin tone, and they should appear as invisible as possible. The best are 6 or 7 den.
Underwear should not be visible under your clothes. If you wear a white shirt/top, then choose a nude bra so it’s not seen.
Choose an elegant leather handbag in black, gray or caramel. Remember not to show off with a big logo.
Jewelry should be delicate – less is more, no more than two elements on your fingers.
MAKEUP, HAIR AND NAILS
Makeup should be natural and delicate. Emphasize your eyes with mascara, a small amount of eyeliner and neutral eyeshadow (optional) and use neutral-toned lipstick.
Hair should be in a clean and simple style. Forget about unnatural colors of hair strands of hair.
Nails should be short in nude or red, but the manicure has to be perfect.
And also take into account…
Regardless of when your interview is held, remember that there is always a room temperature inside, so:
- you still have to wear tights and covered shoes;
- forget about shirts with short sleeves, no sleeves or sandals;
- adjust your makeup in the rest room – use a small amount of translucent powder to get rid of shine;
- choose cloths made of natural fabrics because they are more airy.
- tall boots and booties are not professional shoes, so change them for pumps before an interview;
- a sweater is not a professional piece either, so wear it if feel cold, but take it off before the interview.
The most common mistakes women make while choosing their business dress for an interview are: tops with too low necklines, too tight and too short skirts, too much jewelry, no tights, open toe shoes or patent leather shoes, short sleeved shirts, t-shirts, too much makeup, too long nails and patterned manicures.
In summary, it’s worth choosing classic clothes and following the universal rules, because undoubtedly the advantage of a business code is that these rules are simple, timeless and neutral (they don’t take attention from a candidate). They are appropriate at most interviews and in many if not all professional situations. Follow the code and it’s difficult to make a mistake and dress inappropriately for any situation.
And in the end let me add, that once someone said that 80% of success is appearance, so why not to use it to your advantage? 🙂
If you are over 40 then read my post “Dress for success over 40” (here).
The source of the pictures: Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Taranko.
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