If you're a fashionista who prides yourself on a stylish and eclectic style of dress, it can feel confining and limiting to conform to a traditional, low-key job interview dress code. You can still show off your personality and personal style during the interview process while remaining polished and professional. Make calculated wardrobe choices that speak to your businesslike nature while still displaying taste and individuality.
Consider the Job
While business etiquette dictates that you dress in a professional manner for every job interview, take into consideration the type of work environment you're seeking to be part of. For example, “stylish” in an upscale dress shop means something different than “stylish” at a beachside surf shop. Scope out the business before your interview and get an idea about the dress code, erring on the side of being slightly overdressed and more formal than being underdressed and inappropriate. For example, if blouses and slacks are the norm for an office job, add an unusual piece of focal jewelry, a unique bag or eye-catching pumps to this standard ensemble.
Although you're probably not interested in the three-piece business dress suits your mother or grandmother wore to the office, you can put a modern twist on appropriate interview attire. Pair brightly colored shells or tailored blouses with pressed slacks, pencil skirts and jackets. Dress in layers so you can present a professional image, yet still remove a sweater or outer garment if you get nervous and overheated during your interview.
Pick Core Professional Pieces
Invest in a couple of well-made stylish professional staples that you can jazz up and stylize to fit your mood and style. For example, consider a cream linen dress, fitted black suit jacket, classic black slacks and a navy or charcoal sheath dress. These can be your “go-to” clothing items that will always look professional in an interview setting and can be “dressed up” as a future work wardrobe. You can stylize these kinds of staples with scarves, belts, jackets, shoes and bags.
What to Avoid
Never wear overly casual attire to an interview, even in an informal work environment, which still requires, at the least, a low-profile business look. For example, clothing items to purge from your work wardrobe include shorts, miniskirts, halter or tube tops, ill-fitting, ripped, tight or revealing clothes. Save the ultra-high heels, sheer and shimmery clothing for the nightclub, date night or girls' night out.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.