Business attire has experienced a dramatic shift in recent years, and industries are developing their own rules. The “business casual” movement is common but loosely defined, but how you dress still has a significant impact on how you are viewed by employers. First impressions matter, so how can you make the best one possible? Follow these new rules for dressing for success to shine.
Know Your Prospect’s Uniform
Depending on the company, “business casual” can mean anything from ripped jeans and flip flops to tucked-in shirts with crisp blazers and khakis. Before you meet with a potential employer, call the front desk to learn the company’s dress code. Ask for examples of what the men and women wear, especially of the most senior person at your meeting.
Dress a Step Up
If the front desk tells you everyone wears denim, show up in khakis. If sports coats without ties are common, arrive in your best suit with a tie. Always dress one step better than your prospect, but never more. One step shows you value and respect them, but two steps can make you feel uncomfortably overdressed and send a loaded message.
Grooming Trumps Style
Clothing is not the only thing that matters. Your oral hygiene, fingernails, haircut and facial hair will also be noticed. Even the perfect outfit will not make up for poor hygiene, so make sure you are well groomed from head to toe.
Pay Attention to Details
In a similar vein, a how you wear your clothes is just as important as what you are wearing. Make sure your pants fit well, your shirt is pressed and your shoes are polished. It may seem obvious, but yes, you do have to tuck in your shirt. Every component of your outfit, including your ties, scarves and cuffs should be clean, neat and free of scuffs, stains or tears. Even a casual dress code does not mean sloppy.
Your first meeting with a prospective employer is not the time to show skin, try neon nail polish or rock your biggest ear gauges. Remove untraditional piercings and cover your tattoos until you know they will be acceptable in the workplace. Keep your makeup simple, dress in neutral colours, stay away from stilettos and go for a conservative hairstyle. Even if it is hot in Australia, leave your sandals at home and choose a more traditional, closed-toe shoe.