Thursday, February 28, 2008

How (not) to dress for an interview

As a senior with some experience in the professional world, I know the importance of proper attire in the workplace. I have worked at two professional magazines and have seen the proper way to dress for work - whether it's a standard workday or a more casual day. And let me tell you, neither one involves tennis shoes.

In recent events around town that were business-oriented, I have noticed some of the most atrocious "professional" outfits I have ever seen.

I saw one girl wearing a silk lavender (poor-fitting) shirt, black dress pants with lavender piping to match and… tennis shoes. And, yeah, you guessed it - her tennis shoes had lavender detailing as well.

Vom. That's all I have to say about that.

Poor thing. I wanted to help her out. I would buy her a shirt that fit, first of all. There's nothing wrong with matching piping in pants and the color shirt you are wearing, as long as it's not too obvious. And obvs I would put her in a pair of nice black pumps and light her tennis shoes on fire.

If you're going to work out, tennis shoes are fine. If you wear tennis shoes to a job interview, the only job you deserve is getting paid to dress extremely poorly.

Now, I know that not everyone can afford nice suits, shoes and accessories just for a job interview. But there are reasonably priced solutions - you can dress professionally on a budget. No one says you have to wear a D&G button-up or a Gucci suit to an interview to look nice - or get the job.

Banana Republic is my favorite store. Def. And part of the reason is because they have great quality clothes and amazing, wondrous, heavenly sales. If there's a heaven, it's an infinite Banana Republic store where everything you try on fits perfectly. And everything is free. And there's a chocolate buffet in the middle, and you never gain weight, etc.

Yes, they put their suits on sale, and they are amazing deals. I looked at their Web site, and there currently aren't any sales on men's or women's suits, but once it's time to move the spring collection out and the fall collection in, these items should go on sale.

I have a two-button blazer and pencil skirt suit from there that is amazing. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't Gucci expensive either.

If you can't afford or don't want to pay for Banana-quality stuff, other good places to look include H&M and Forever 21. There aren't any H&Ms in the South that I know of, but there are Forever 21s everywhere. Granted, the quality of clothing you will get is significantly lower than somewhere like Banana, but you will also pay a lot less.

Another thing I've noticed with men and women alike, but especially with men, is that they don't wear suits that fit properly. A suit should be fitted to your frame, not loose and baggy.

Guys: The bottom of the jacket should rest against your body right where the crotch of your pants starts. Of course, this relies upon you wearing pants that fit properly and not having baggy crotches. I think a lot of guys think they need a lot of room in there - let's be honest. We know you don't.

The tie is crucial. Unfortunately, there is no set rule for avoiding fugly ties. You just have to have style. Generally though, stay away from bright, busy patterns and stick with simple, solid, bold colors. Also, the tie should hit in the middle of your belt. Not shorter. And definitely not longer. If you take away nothing else from this weekly column, please heed this advice.

Ladies: It can be trickier for us because we want to look stylish without wearing something too tight or showing too much skin. You know, because we're the more delicate sex blah blah blah, vom vom vom.

Fitted suits are still appropriate for women, but if the jacket or skirt is buckling at the bust, around the back or across the buttock, that means it is too tight. Go up one size. I saw a girl this weekend wearing a pencil skirt that was so tight her entire lower body shifted up and down when she took an awkward step forward in her five-inch heels. No, sweetie.

Which brings me to my next point. High heels are acceptable in the workplace but not trashy high heels. Platforms, black patent leather and shoes with any excessive strings or buckles should be avoided - AKA, let's-have-sex-right-now pumps. A five-inch classy black pump, whilst uncomfortable, is not forbidden.

Next week, a surprise. I've been planning it for months. Just in time for spring break. Until then, majorly yours.

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