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Dressing for the job

Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney

When giving an interview for a new job, what your wear and how you present yourself plays an important role in achieving your goal. One of the ways to instantly make yourself more attractive and more presentable to other people is your clothing. It’s not so much what label or what trend you wear, but that your clothes fit well, and are in a presentable state. People look more confident and more put together in clothes that fit them.First impressions are critical. What you wear is the first thing people see, before you even say a word. Your potential employer will size you up in the first interaction based on everything from your handshake, to your choice of shoes. Whoever hires you needs to be able to visualise you in the position they’re trying to fill.

Fashion matters when it comes to landing your dream job, and having your closet ready with job interview outfits can help take a little pressure off an already stressful situation. When deciding what to wear to a job interview, you need to fit into the company culture; but stand out from other candidates at the same time. You don’t want your outfit to be overpowering or distracting. What you choose to wear will say two thing about you – one, you are serious about work; two, you have studied and understood the company culture.

Corporate: If you are interviewing for a client-based corporate job such as public relations, sales, marketing, advertising, account executives, law firm or real estate you must be well groomed. Invest in a nice, well fitted blazer which can be used to dress up anything from simple blouses to well-cut trousers.  Your look should be formal and business like. Use neutral colours such as black, white, grey, beige or brown. Avoid bright coloured clothing, vibrant or distracting prints, anything sheer, lacy or low cut, as the attention should be on you and not your clothes. Shoes should be closed-toe and heels should not be higher than three inches. If you choose to wear Indian ethnic clothing, use solid colours instead of prints and avoid bright colours. Your saree pallu should be pleated and pinned neatly on the shoulder. Avoid low-cut, sleeveless blouses. If you choose to wear open-toe sandals on your ethnic wear, make sure they’re high heeled and not flat. Avoid distracting accessories. Don’t wear too much make up. Maintain a clean and simple hairstyle. Avoid wearing perfume.

Finance: Jobs in finance would include banking, consulting, accounting, insurance or stock analyst. Your look, at least at the interview stage, should be similar to the corporate look – conservative and professional. Neutral colours can be complemented with a dash of pastels. Avoid bright colours and loud prints. If you opt to wear a skirt, make sure it’s knee length or below and tailored appropriately. Your clothes should be well fitted and neat.

Creative: If you are applying for a creative field such as that of a writer, photographer, graphic designer, art director or film, it would be great to show off a bit of your personality in your dressing. However, make sure it is not over the top and that it’s a good balance between conservative and creative. You don’t have to show up in a suit, but make sure you don’t show up in something too casual or trend driven either. Your shoes should be closed-toe. If you opt to wear denim, make sure it’s a dark colour. Keep your accessories to a minimum.

Fashion: While interviewing for jobs as fashion designer, merchandiser, buyer, editor, stylist or sales, don’t try to be too fashion forward. The idea is to look presentable and stylish and not like you have just walked out of a runway show. Your clothes should not be a distraction. Instead, keep your clothes simple and make accessories the focal point. Go in for stylish shoes, a sharp bag and contemporary jewellery that display your great taste. What you wear depends on the specific job and company you are interviewing for. Keep the aesthetics of the brand in mind.

Tech/start up: When interviewing for a start-up or jobs in IT, engineering, coding, designing or communications, there’s always a danger or being overdressed. You may know everything and say all the right things; but if you make an appearance in a three-piece suit, the company might think that they cannot offer you what you want. Show that you’re serious about the position without being overdressed. Opt for dark denim and a tucked-in shirt or blouse. Make sure your clothes are neat and well pressed. Keep your accessories to a minimum.

Good luck in your job interview. Until next time, stay stylish!

(Writer is a fashion designer and is available at

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