Interview Wardrobe - From Dress Smart - Wardrobes That Win In The New Workplace
February 5th, 2007
“It is possible through the skillful manipulation of dress in any particular situation to evoke a favorable response to your positioning and your needs.”
JOHN T. MOLLOY - New Dress for Success
“The more you know, the less you need.”
AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL SAYING
If you’re So Smart, Why Do You Dress So Stupid?
-Clothes & Career
“Let us be thankful for the fools; but for them the rest of us could not succeed.”
Seconds..tick, tick, tick, tick…Mission Impossible seconds are counting down as the HR manager stretches out a hand and BANG! You are registered, judged, and mentally filed away. So what’s on that file? Have you set up the groundwork for a smooth interview and job offer, or a wary, “we’ll see what’s here?” This section is about putting together the most winning combination of visual reinforcements and clues, so you can make a positive impression on your interviewer. Button line you’re reading this because you want a job. Help yourself get that job. Read on.
DRESSING THE PART
In 1912, the New York Highlanders took the baseball field in what would become the most famous uniform in sport history: Pinstripes. By the 1930s, the pattern on their uniform had come to define the first power look for men. As orderly as the lines on a banker’s ledger, the pinstripe suit signified a man’s stature in the corporate world. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees had become the most dominant team in the major leagues, and their pinstripes had already taken on a mystique: Did Yankees owner Col. Jacob Ruppert really insist on the uniforms just to make Babe Ruth look slimmer? Or perhaps the message was even simpler: In pinstripes, the Yankees wear all business.
Today, whether it’s baseball or banking, how a man dresses can affect not only his performance, but also his career itself. If you don’t present yourself properly on a job interview, you may not get in the door. Once inside, you need to look the part to stay there and move up. And eventually, if you want to move high up or out, you need to be aware of the messages you are sending others.
THE POWER OF IMAGE
Consider the paintings of the Impressionist Georges Seurat: From far away, they are seemingly of a idyllic Sunday afternoon by the lake or a day at the Eiffel Tower. But move closer and you see that Seurat’s images are, in fact, tiny dots of color. His pointillist style is actually nothing more than perfectly positioned brush strokes, which, when viewed as a whole, produce the big picture.
Dressing smart requires the same thinking: How you put all of the elements of you wardrobe together can either create an image that is visually pleasing or something that’s big mess. In order to break down the elements of your appearance dot by dot. Does your suit frame your body well? Is that tie too distracting? Are your shoes tripping people up? By examining each aspect of your wardrobe you can develop the style that best suits who you are and eventually use that style to set yourself apart.
STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
How a man dresses and looks is obviously important, but what defines his style? The people we often consider the best dressed do not typically wear clothing we remember. There is not usually one item that stands out on such a man, he merely seems to put everything together well and carries himself with great sophistication. He is well groomed; his hair, nails, and general appearance seen clean and polished .
His style is often defined by confidence, which some are born with and other acquire over time. It is a confidence not simply in what he is wearing, but rather in who he is. In other words, style without substance is meaningless. A great shirt and tie might help you get a job, but they will never do the work for you. Without the talent and drive to back up the promise of your appearance, you are merely an empty suit.
THE TREND GAME
Fashion is a scary word for men and for good reason. It is mostly concerned with trends wearing the clothes that will be appropriate for one season, and perhaps not even that long. The world of fashion is obsessed with name-brand designers and labels that will impress a small section of society. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be fashionable, of course. But as with the things in life, following
Trends is best enjoyed in moderation: A bold shirt, a graphic tie, an eye-catching pair of cuff links.
Style, on the other hand, is timeless. A blue blazer, gray flannels, loafers, these items considered classics for a reason: They will never go out style and will never be inappropriate. When building a wardrobe for work, it is always better to err on the side of classic. After all, if you intend to be on the job for several years, shouldn’t you expect the same of your clothing?
DRESSING SMART FOR SUCCESS
In 1975, John T. Molloy published his now classic book, Dress for Success. At the time, there was nothing like it to guide a man through the principles of proper attire in the workplace, and his sartorial homilies taught a generation how to “dress like a million so you can make a million.” Molloy’s philosophy was relatively simple: Clothing affects business performance and influences the way superiors and peers view you. And, playing to our most basic “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, Molloy argues that even if you don’t want to dress to get ahead, the next guy will.
Over the years, much of Molly’s advice still held true, but the workplace changed dramatically in the past quarter century. Molloy never foresaw the advent of casual Fridays and corporate policies that supposed to dress for a meeting with 20-something dot-com millionaires who wear wearing ripped jeans and T-shirts?
Today, however, the economy has shifted yet again, and the days of casual dressing in the office have waned. As corporate pants and suits and ties. Work has once again become business as usual, but what does business look like?