Last updated August 15, 2019
Fashion trends typically change over time, so it's no surprise that professional trends are also shifting. Lots of companies are transitioning into a more "casual" dress code, but that means something different to every company & industry. Whether you're a job seeker or an entrepreneur, knowing what's appropriate to wear is critical when you want to leave a promising first impression.
Don't know what to wear to an interview or professional event? In this post, I'll break down each area of clothing. Keep in mind that my suggestions & recommendations are of my personal opinion; there's no "right" or "wrong" way, & perspectives vary based on the company + industry.
When it comes to attire, you really have to consider the event & the crowd. If it's an interview, it's best to stick to business professional. If it's a networking event or job fair, business professional is your best bet. But, if it's a conference or convention, casual clothes is acceptable, unless otherwise stated.
There's nothing wrong with adding a personal twist to your outfit, but be sure that it's appropriate for the event. For business professional clothes, stick to darker colored suits (black, grey, or navy blue). If you prefer to wear a skirt or dress, make sure it goes past your knees when sitting down.
Always opt for close-toed shoes, & try sticking to neutral colors. Only wear heels if you're confident that you can walk comfortably in them, & they shouldn't be taller than 4". Despite how casual the company &/or industry may be, stay away from tennis shoes or sneakers at all costs. Oh, & if you're wearing socks, please be sure that they match the pants.
Unless you haven't washed or brushed your hair, there's really no "wrong" hairstyle. Things start to get a little more complicated when you have long hair, & it's simply because you don't want to be a distraction or to get in the way of anything.
Buns and ponytails are a super-easy way to keep hair completely out of your face. Or, you can do a half-up-half-down look to keep your hair out of the way but still show off your length. Lastly, braids and pins/clips are another way to add personality + style into your look.
Never feel like you have to wear make-up in public. Ever. Make-up is completely a choice, and how much you choose to wear or none at all is up to you. I personally like to keep it very basic—sometimes eyeliner, always mascara, & always brow powder. There are some days where I walk into the office with nothing on my face except moisturizer, & other days I have my "full face" on.
Although nail art is so becoming increasingly popular, it can still be sort of a taboo topic. There still are certain industries & positions that don't allow longer or colored nails for safety & sanitary reasons—which should be understandable. But, there are also people who don't like the way they look & can't understand how they're functional.
If you're going to an interview or meeting, the last thing you want is to draw attention to your hands; instead, you should be drawing attention to the topic of discussion. On the other hand, if it's a convention or event, feel free to show your style—just make sure it's not offensive or inappropriate.
This truly is a personal choice, but I highly recommend that you take the industry, company, and event into consideration. If your tattoos are on a difficult place to hide, like your hands or your neck, it might be best to just dress like they don't exist because covering them with clothes can become a challenge really quick. Although, if you know that your tattoo might be offensive, please keep it covered.
Always be prepared to answer questions about your tattoos, and always have a work-appropriate answer ready. Sometimes, people want to know how many tattoos you have, why you got them, where you got them, what they mean, who did them, or even if you have any matching ones with someone else. Regardless, the answer should always be appropriate for the workplace.
Don't go out of your way to show off your piercings, but also don't feel like you have to go out of your way to hide them. There may be industries or positions that don't allow certain body jewelry, so be mindful of that. If you are able to wear body jewelry, just be sure that it doesn't represent or symbolize anything offensive or derogatory.
Lastly, we can't forget your perfume or cologne. Deodorant is a must, but perfume or cologne is totally optional. When applying your favorite scent, it's important to be mindful of the event & the audience. Not only are some people sensitive to smells or others may have allergies to scents, but it can be distracting, especially in small + closed spaces. Remember, you're heading to a professional event, not a date night.
Complete the Look
Whatever you decide to wear, wear it with confidence! Of course, you always want to be respectful & follow the dress code, but you should still be able to express your personality. If your outfit truly speaks to your style but it's not resonating well with others, that could be a sign that the crowd isn't the right crowd for you.
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