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How to Dress for a Job Interview

You perfected your resume, you wrote the perfect cover letter, and finally, you land an interview! So... what do you wear? In a job interview, the clothes you wear matter just as much as your resume. If you are well dressed, it will leave a strong first impression on your employer. Not only that, a decent outfit suggests that you understand the culture of a workplace, and it implies that you are receptive to the implicit professional codes of conduct. It wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that making the right sartorial choices can increase the chances of getting your dream job.

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Understand a company's work culture

You can't wear the same outfit to every interview simply because every company has a different work culture and therefore a different dress code. For instance, insurance companies and law firms are usually more conservative in nature and the preferred dress code is strictly professional. If you have an interview at such a company, opt for a solid colored suit with a matching belt and tie (for men) or conservative shoes and minimal jewelry (for women). On the other hand, companies in the field of advertising or fashion tend to have a more liberal work culture and you can afford to wear more casual or stylish outfits like khaki pants with a button-down white shirt or a trendy sweater. The key is to gather sufficient information about the work culture of a particular office. Ask your hiring manager or visit the company's website to get an idea of what people wear on a regular day.  

Don't overdress or underdress

As puzzling as it might sound, you will need to maintain a balance between underdressing and overdressing. Once you have a fair idea about the regular attire at an office, dress one and only one level higher; i.e. if employees wear casual clothes, you must choose a semi-casual outfit. This way, your clothes won't be too fancy or too plain for the occasion. When in doubt, choose to be understated. Women should avoid jarring nail polish shades and excessive jewelry, while men should steer clear of loud ties and belts.  

Choose the right colors

You would be surprised to know that the color of your outfit can make quite a difference. First of all, match the colors of your outfit. That is, choose your tie according to the color of your shirt and choose the shirt according to the color of your suit. The entire combination must not look out of place. Remember, your clothes are only meant to deliver a pleasant impression, while your resume should do the real talking. If your clothes are too bold, they will attract excessive attention and your employer might be distracted from your real achievements. Professional code dictates that solid colors like blue are ideal if you are interviewing for a business or management position, while light colors are perfect for service positions.  

Be up to date with fashion trends

Even if your job has nothing to do with the fashion industry, an awareness of fashion trends implies that you are in touch with current social trends. This doesn't mean that you wear mini skirts or sunglasses or huge earrings to your interview. Instead, you must be aware of the fashion trends in terms of professional clothing. For instance, check out the latest cut in suits, the kinds of ties that are popular, the length of a professional skirt, the kind of jewelry, etc. Again, don't go overboard; just remember to be in touch with the current standards.  

Show your commitment and maturity

Even if you have an interview at an extremely liberal company like a start-up, you must show a certain level of maturity and commitment towards the job. Don't walk in with a cup of coffee or with gum in your mouth. Understand that you are interviewing for a professional company, and that you can be more casual once you actually start working there. Until then, assume an air of seriousness and allow your skills to be the center of attention. Good luck!