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Dress to Impress: A Guide for Business Attire

InterviewMost people are often confused about what constitutes acceptable attire for a business meeting or an interview. It goes without saying that to make a good impression on the client (and a respectable image in corporate world), it is essential to dress appropriately. The logic is the belief that "first impression is the last impression". It goes, without exception, for both man and woman. Both need to dress smartly in today's corporate world. A perfect dress, a confident body language, an erect posture and a firm hand shake are some of the non-verbal qualities that can change ones course to success.

    Dress: General Guidelines

    • The most important thing is that, no matter what is worn, the clothes should be neat and clean and the shoes should be polished.
    • Also, the hair should be neatly tied up. A formal hair style is necessary.
    • Women, if wearing it, should wear only subtle makeup.
    • It is important to find out the dress code of the company for which the interview is scheduled and to dress accordingly. Standard suit and tie attire (for men) is a preferred option.
    • For women: A tailored dress like a skirt with a blouse and a jacket can serve as standard attire.
    • Standard business attire is recommended over casual dresses.
    • A good rule of thumb is that the outfit of the interviewee should not upstage the interviewer.
    • Women in particular must try to ‘be remembered for their business sense' and not for their see-through lacy top or stilettos. Indecent dressing is not appreciated. In fact, it generally spoils a professional image.
    • Follow the mantra ‘The simpler the better'. One should keep their looks simple.

    More General Guidelines

    Dress: Tips for Men

    The most important facet of a man's appearance is a clean-shaved face. A man with a scruffy beard looks unprofessional. Also, a man's hair should be clean and well-groomed. It is important to dress neatly in the corporate world. The following guidelines will help him determine what's appropriate wear for work.

    • Wear a suit: It is advisable to wear a suit, unless the interviewing environment is casual in which a suit would be out of place. For informal wear, an open collar shirt with a jacket is fine. Wearing dark colors like blue, black, brown or gray is preferred. Also wear a leather belt that blends with the choice of shoes.
    • Shirts: Be simple: Avoid dark colors, French cuffs or monograms. Colors like white, off-white and pale blue are preferred.
    • Tie: Choose a tie that contrasts with the suit color. A traditional silk tie without loud color tones and patterns is acceptable.
    • Socks: Make sure that the color of the socks coordinate with the attire. For example, dark brown, dark gray, black or dark blue socks can be worn with dark-colored pants. Also make sure that socks are long enough to not expose skin when sitting.
    • Shoes: Make sure that the shoes are cleaned and well polished. Wear shoes that coordinate with the outfit. Avoid wearing boots.

    Dress: Tips for Women

    It is also important that women know how to dress to be able to compete on an equal playing field in the business world. Knowing how to dress for a business meeting can help a lot in face-to-face deals. Business attire for women must be conservative, well fitted and feminine. For the purpose of interviews and business meetings, women should consider the following guidelines:

    • Tailored Clothing: Tailored clothing always look good. It pays to invest in several high quality interchangeable outfits than to invest in multiple poor quality outfits.
    • Pants and Suits: Pants are an acceptable business attire for women. Tailored pants with a crease is preferred over denim and jeans. Colors such as blue, black and brown should be chosen. Try to stay away from tight pants and make sure that the pants are ironed and wrinkle free.
    • Skirts and Dresses: Although women have come a long way in the corporate world, skirt-suits are still preferred as the best outfit in the corporate environment for a female. The right color and material of the skirt is important. Also the right length is critical. Tight skirts and mini skirts must be avoided.
    • Shirts and Sweaters: The rule for choosing a blouse is: ‘it should cover up' and shouldn't be too tight or too baggy. Also cleavage shouldn't be visible. Blouses should be well-tailored and should coordinate with the rest of the outfit. A cotton or a silk blouse with a simple collar is fine. Dress slacks and button-down jackets with button-up shirts underneath are also great combinations.
    • Shoes: Choose a color that compliments the outfit. Don't wear stilettos at an important business meeting, presentation or interview. Leave those shoes at home. Heels should not be higher than an inch and a half. Make sure that the shoes are well polished and that the heels are intact.
    • Stockings: If you prefer wearing stockings then do not wear contrasting colors and avoid opaque or printed stockings.
    • Jewelry and perfume: Jewelry should be very simple with limited visible body piercing. Avoid large hoop and dangling earrings. Be simple; do not wear more than two finger rings, one watch and a bracelet. Perfumes should have very light fragrance and should not be offensive.

    More Dress Tips for Men and Women

    Dressing on a Budget

    There isn't any reason one cannot dress like a successful professional if he/she is on a budget. Looking nice can be budget friendly. Here are few tips on dressing professionally within the budget. Tips include guidelines on spending less and getting more:

    • One way to add clothes to a wardrobe without spending too much is by recycling what is already owned. Use old clothes for making different styles. Learn how to mix and match.
    • Shop the clearance rack: the best time to shop a clearance rack is at the end of the season to get desired outfits at lower rates.
    • Trade with friends: this is one way to have different outfits and an expanded wardrobe.
    • Shop at outlet malls and stores: Outlet stores and malls often have lower prices and feature sales and specials.
    • By maintaining a neutral foundation, one won't need to shop all the time.
    • Look to second hand clothing stores and auction sites such as eBay to score deals on designer clothing and more expensive labels.

    Doing your research:

    Choosing clothes for work can be difficult unless an employer specifies the dress code. In order to show dedication and respect for the position one needs to be present in appropriate and professional attire. When in doubt, do a little research on the industry to learn more about their dress code. If there is still uncertainty, one can consult career counselors, faculty, and professionals in the field for their professional opinions. Remember, that it is often required to dress more formally for the interview than the actual position. Once hired, it's a good idea to ask the boss or the human resources department for a copy of the organization's dress code policy.

    Dress examples:

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