January 31, 2013

Fashion Friday: Dress for Success (Sorry, Sweatpants Won’t Impress)

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I hope you all had a great holiday break! Did you eat a lot of food? Hang around your hometown? Get any fun gifts? Oh, you got new clothes? I really couldn’t tell … I mean, I haven’t seen anything but parkas and sweatpants and other unfortunate, but necessary, weather gear since we returned to the tundra that we call home (#2). Wait! That’s a lie. During rush week, I felt like I was in the film Miss Congeniality or something (and I was clearly the Sandra Bullock character … well, not as tragic as that, but I felt out of place amidst the constant rainbow clothing). Girls rocked parkas and stilettos, and the imagery was as ridiculous looking as it sounds (though props are given for navigating the icy sidewalks in heels).

Yes, the uniform of rush week and the protective shields of parkas and weird hunter hats seem to come with the territory here at Cornell, spring/second semester. However, some of you may be thinking about summer already — as in, summer internships. With most internship opportunities, interviews come first, and, sorry, Big Red sweatpants ain’t getting any of you hired. But what does one wear for such a daunting occurrence? I mean, every internship is different, and many call for a different look, a varying degree of formality, etc. Well, get ready to feel ready for whatever comes your way, because I am here to guide you through interview season (check your coats/tents/dog-sleds at the door, please).

1. The Wall Street/finance interview: Gentlemen, a suit and tie is just not a question here. You wanna blend in with the big boys? Look the part. But, like, no pinstripes, or you’ll come across as more gambler than financier. Ladies, black or other dark, classic colors are your best bet. You want to be taken seriously, and, though I trust you have great style, whoever is interviewing you will take “style” as distracting. Look crisp and classic; however, adding still-professional, but personal accessories (like a slick watch or complementary studs) are A-OK. Oh, and black tights and shoes are recommended — with low heels only, please (if you wore them for rush … rethink!).

2. Fashion/Artistic/Creative interview: Whether this means editorials at Marie Claire, organization at a gallery or assisting store displays at Anthropologie, style actually does matter — YOUR style. These positions all demand you to be yourself and incorporate your great taste and point of view into the work you’ll be doing, so make sure you show your personality in what you wear! However, still keep it professional and classy. Wearing the color of the season (emerald) in a silk blouse with other dark or neutral colors is great; carrying a bag that just completes your outfit (and is subtly funky) is a great choice, as well. Just make sure that there is something in your professional look that screams “you” and is memorable enough, but doesn’t kill the class. This is the one time, boys and girls, you can even wear your hipster glasses and I won’t judge.

3. Up-and-Coming Company: Start-ups are so popular now, and love hiring interns. Additionally, they’re a great place to gain experience, because of how small and casual the staff is, and how closely interns get to work alongside them. This makes dressing for these interviews tricky, though. You don’t want to come across as stiff and a bore to work with in a start-up setting. However, it’s blatantly disrespectful to dress overly casual, and will hinder your chances, no matter how young, cool or kind your interviewer appears. Therefore, flats and oxfords, blazers and button-downs, pretty blouses and pressed-pants are the best route for both girls and boys to come across as put-together, but not stiff and stuck-up. (Once you’re in, though, I don’t care if every day is casual Friday … Cornell hats and tees don’t cross that office threshold.)

So there you have it. Interviews and internships and resumes and real-life stuff are all scary enough without worrying about your wardrobe. Take my advice and start stocking up now — then, when your time comes to shine, all you need to do is show ‘em you can play the part, because you’ll certainly look it.

Original Author: Meghan Flynn