Dress to Impress

by Rebecca Golub

Photography courtesy of Topshop Instagram

Rarely do professors’ tangents of life advice and strategic insights on career planning include wardrobe choices and their effect on interviewers’ or future co-workers’ first impressions.

However, the reality is: your wardrobe is important when you start a new career. It’s never too early to start stocking up on proper work attire, so here are some tips!

According to the Executive Director of Boston University’s Center for Career Development, Louis Gaglini, the most important idea to keep in mind when dressing to meet with a prospective employer for the first time is to make sure one “know[s his or her] audience and surroundings.” This means doing research on the company’s culture and adjusting the look as such. Nonetheless, it is of utmost importance to not underdress by any means. Patrick Nelson, COM Assistant Director of Employer Relations, said, “Students often make the mistake of dressing down to the company before the job.”

The buttoned-up suit and tie look isn’t so common in all offices, like Facebook for example. To play it safe for a tech or start-up environment, it would be best to dress in a suit and button-up shirt.

In an alternative situation—a more formal, corporate office environment—equates to a different dress code. According to Gaglini’s guidelines, a female in this environment should stock up on a few plain blouses, work pants, interchangeable shoes, pencil skirts and suits. Also, a male is recommended to have a few flat-front khakis, some interchangeable button-down or polo shirts and slip-on dress shoes. Gaglini said it is important to mention that one should always “ensure their clothing fits a week or so before their interview.”

At almost any professional job there are a few items to make sure never see the inside of a cubicle or meeting room; this includes flip flops, loud jewelry, bright makeup, tattoos, piercings (besides simple ear piercings) and excessive cologne. The key is to look as natural and neutral as possible.

As for the communication industry, there are separate dress code expectations all together, said Nelson. For example, television or behind-the-scenes work entails casual and comfortable pieces whereas someone working in front of the camera is always expected to dress in business-formal attire. However, a position at a publishing company almost always requires business-casual attire (a nice blouse or button down, dark jeans or dress pants and dress shoes). On the other hand, for public relations and advertising practitioners, the dress code ranges across the board. In this case, Gaglini would suggest asking the company what is most appropriate to wear or doing some online research before the interview.

At the end of the day, “Understand [the] age group, and don’t try to be who you’re not because it’s all about the quality of your work,” said Gaglini.

A newly minted college-grad at The Training and Education Coordinator at The Centre on Philanthropy of Bermuda, Samantha Nearon, agrees. “Your clothing should show [that] you take your job seriously enough, but you also want to seem level to everyone else you speak to,” she said.

Although it may be intimidating to put so much pressure on just one button down or the hem length of one pair of pants while preparing for an interview, it is important to never let it get the best of one’s abilities. Behind any fashion-forward combination of wardrobe items is a confident person who knows how to carry himself or herself in any outfit.