My mom always told me “Don’t dress for the position that you have, dress for the position that you want.” Her advice has stayed with me and has made me a big believer in dressing for success. Although we teach that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover the reality is that many of us do. Dressing sloppy, wrinkly or too casual although ok for some jobs, in the business world it could cost you a deal, a relationship or set the wrong first impression.
Depending on your career different dress code expectations are set. For example, a conservative blue suit although normal wear in the banking, accounting and the finance industry it could make you feel out of place at a Creative Type Marketing agency where the company culture is more casual and jeans are the norm. However, although the inter-office culture is laid back don’t take it for granted. I have seen many mis-steps by making wrong assumptions. For example here are two classic “dress for success” mistakes that I’ve seen.
Mistake #1 – Dressing too casually for an interview
Ok. So you’ve done your research and due diligence and you know that the accepted dress code at the job is casual so instead of dressing for success with a nice suit you show up to the interview in jeans and a t-shirt. Ouch! Big mistake. Just because the dress code is casual don’t presume that their interview dress code is casual too. This presumption can give the interviewer a bad impression and make you come across as unprofessional. You won’t go wrong by wearing your business suit. So just do it.
Mistake #2 – Dressing too boring
Just because your dressed in a suit doesn’t mean that you can’t show personality. Although your suit should be a conservative blue, black or grey you can spice it up in the following ways.
-Wear French Cuff Shirt – French Cuff shirts are seen as more stylish and elegant.
-Wear Cuff Links -Cuff links are a requirement for your French Cuff shirt. You dress up the shirt with cuff links that can match your outfit. Word of caution – stay away from novelty cufflinks as they can be seen as too tacky.
-Find a Collar Style – There are dozens of collar styles ranging from the traditional pinpoint to the spread collar to the continental collar. Find a style that can complement your face shape and size. Here’s a great site that can show you a sample of different collar types and how they can change your look. Pro-Tips: Make sure to put Collar Stays in your collar. The last thing you want is your collar curling up. I use Aluminum Collar Stays and they work extremely well.
-Change up your knot – There are so many different ways that you can tie your knot so don’t do the same one over again. Different knots also go well with different collars so make sure that they match up. Experiment with these 4 knots below and change it up.
-Pocket Squares – This is my favorite way to spice up a suit. You can match a handkerchief with your tie or wear one that complements your total outfit. You can also insert the pocket square in different ways. Bunched, The One Point, The Square, AskMen.com has a great guide that teaches you how to fold your pocket square. Click here to check it out.
As you can see dressing for success is a combination of personality and professionalism. Dressing for success doesn’t mean you have to look plain and boring. You can still look professional and show personality.