How to Dress for Any Occasion
Old etiquette: A conservative dark suit. End of story.
New etiquette: You can’t go wrong with a suit, but in many fields it’s not the only (or best) choice.
What to wear: At large, traditional companies, suits are still the standard. “There aren’t appropriate alternatives to a suit, and wearing one tells me you are seriously interested in the position,” says legal recruiter Kim Mains, manager of legal recruiting for Cozen O’Connor, a law firm based in Philadelphia. However, in many creative or artistic fields―design, media, retail, technology―it can be a plus to step outside of the box: Try a sheath dress with a wide belt and a cardigan, or a pencil skirt with a blouse and a cropped jacket. “When I’m hiring, I like to see an outfit that tells me the candidate has a personal sense of style,” says Paul Howalt, creative director and owner of Tactix Creative, a branding firm in Mesa, Arizona.
That said, no matter how casual the environment, don’t assume that it’s cool to wear jeans to an interview. “Don’t dress as if the job is yours,” cautions Peri Hansen, a senior client partner at Korn/Ferry International, an executive-search firm in Los Angeles. When in doubt, she says, “call the interviewer’s assistant or the HR executive and ask what’s appropriate. It shows interest and respect.” In all cases, your clothing should be impeccably clean, ironed, and tailored. Under no circumstances should it be skimpy, plunging, or tight.