October 26, 2006

Attire For Hire

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I have a confession to make: half the reason I want to go corporate is for the delicious Manolo pumps, impeccably tailored Chanel suit and of course, the sexy Gucci leather bag – alright, maybe just one-fourth of the reason. There’s something undeniably satisfying about putting together an ensemble that makes you feel so put together, you’re inspired to take over the world. With interview season lurking around the corner, we thought a little Corporate 101 couldn’t hurt!
Before you bust out that dry-clean only suit of yours for every occasion throughout the business hunt, let’s do a little differentiating. On each event invitation, there should always be a specification as whether it’s “Business Casual” or “Business Formal”. Pick the one that applies and refer below.
Business Casual
A thin cashmere sweater either over a buttoned collared shirt and neutral wool pants are the ingredients for the ideal business casual outfit. Pick a cardigan in a neutral color – both gray/black/white or light pastel shades work well. For bottoms, you can either go with loose fitting, but well-tailored, slacks or a pair of skinny/straight pants in a flattering cut. These pants should be black or gray. One rule of thumb to follow is that if you’re wearing form-fitting pants, your sweater shouldn’t be too tight, and vice versa. You’re not going through rounds of interviews to vie for the coveted position of company floozy, so leave the butt-hugging pencil skirts and open-toed pumps at home. As for shoes, slip on a pair of pointy flats as the defined silhouette gives the otherwise casual shoe style professional flair, or the alternative, a pair of moderately-high heels in any shape. Being able to walk is important; slavery to fashion implies that you’re impractical, not to mention physically incompetent — characteristics employers aren’t particularly wild about. Top off the outfit with a nice bag (read: not slouchy, not overwhelmed with metallic loops/buckles/buttons and not flashy fuchsia) and you’re good to go. Oh and make sure your face isn’t caked with oily, a shade-too-dark makeup and keep your nails clean – both in terms of dirt and offensive nail color. The main thing to keep in mind is: keep it simple! Pink bows on pink shoes, stretchy low-cut tops and cheap ‘n’ dangling silver jewelry just don’t cut it.
Business Formal
The concept here is much easier than the aforementioned look, it just requires some hunting. This look revolves around finding the perfect suit, and there’s no excuse since you only need the one. I suggest you buy one in either black or gray, with or without pinstripes. If the suit doesn’t flatter your figure just right, definitely bring it to a tailor. That way, you can be sure the waist is tucked in at just the right place, and more importantly, that your sleeves are the perfect length. Too-long sleeves give you the appearance of frumpy-ness, generating an I-don’t-care attitude to your interviewers. Just remember girls, the way you present yourselves to an interviewer is incredibly crucial; other pieces of advice includes freshly-washed hair that’s worn either down and sleek or pulled away from your face, and neutral makeup colors applied with a light hand. In case it’s not glaringly obvious, all the other tips described in business casual apply here too. And don’t be scared to add (a few) personal touches of your own; you don’t want your interviewers to think you’re void of personality.
With that, I wish you the best of luck, although with these tips in mind, you’re sure to get the job! Relevant experience, GPA and interpersonal skills are just minor details.