Looking professional doesn’t have to be a drag. Too many young women drop the ball in looking great for work, and especially for interviews, in an effort to appear sophisticated. Wake up ladies!! Employers are judging you on your appearance as much as your work experience. When dressing for an interview, how you look can indicate to an employer how much experience you have in dealing with clients on a personal basis, how seriously you take your job, if you will be trouble to other senior colleagues — this should be no surprise to you FOC (fresh-outta-college) gals, the cougars hate seeing a hot young threat trotting around the office– and quite possibly whether or not you will fit into a higher position than the one you are applying for. The trick is to stand out, but not in a negative way, and it can be a tricky (and occupationally sensitive) game. Here are a few ideas of how to turn the volume up on the slacks/dress suit/button up and sling backs look that every other person will be wearing, yet retain the level of professionalism for your industry.
If you are applying for a job in a creative industry (music, movie, fashion,etc) but will be working in an office setting, you can be a little more trendy with your choices. Rocking leather may be perfectly fine, as long as it is tasteful. Try a leather pencil skirt paired with a cowl neck top and a pair of hot suede ankle cut-off boots. For a nerdy chic version, add some Oliver Peoples’ Sheldrake D frame specs ($315, net-a-porter.com).
For a position in which you primarily work around other women in your industry or a similar field, keep it classic. Think cute and friendly, girl next door. You may be a cracker jack at what you do, but you don’t want to come off strong right out of the door, especially in PR and Event type positions. Plus, if you are new, you are most likely going to be on your feet alot, so don’t bother with the 4 inch heels….try a simple boyfriend blazer over a dress or slacks, and rock the cute ballerina flats a la Marc Jacobs ($575, net-a-porter.com). Again, you want to stand out as the girl who is always put together, not the office tramp.
If you are in a more typical 9-5 type field, possibly a real estate office, or maybe an educational field, you may be a little more limited because of the level of professionalism you must evoke. Not a problem, there are so many ways you can jazz up a button up blouse (just ask Carolina Herrera). Splurge on a white button up that fits you to the T, and has a more unique cut such as this McQ by Alexander McQueen blouse ($89, farfetch.com) and accessorize with a stand out bag, scarf, or shoes (or all three).