As if interviewing for a job isn't already nerve-racking to begin with, but thinking of what to wear to the interview is just as stressful. Depending on the weather, office environment, company culture, and position you are applying for, it is best to be cognizant of how you want to present yourself on this first meeting. Yes, yes, I know. Don't judge a book by its cover. But in this case, you are not trying to pretend something you are not. You are simply presenting the best version of yourself. Your appearance is an extension of what's inside. You should come across as someone who cares about him/herself, and respects the people you are meeting for the first time. Keep it simple, professional, clean, and comfortable. It's all about balance.
1. Ladies, tone down the make-up and crazy nails. Avoid heavy, cakey make-up and super long, bright colored nails, as they can distract the interviewer. You want to be remembered as that best candidate rather the one who had neon pink nails! Gents, please groom yourself - shave, get a haircut, clip your nails, and wear deodorant!
2. Avoid strong perfume/cologne as some people can be allergic. I learned this the hard way when I showed up to work on my first day doused in Ralph Lauren's Romance. I had no idea that my boss was allergic to perfume. He ended up getting a headache and had to work from home the rest of the day. What a way to make an impression on my first day! The last thing you want is for the interviewer to be sneezing the entire time and get screened out because of your strong scent!
3. Keep it light with accessories. You want your interviewer to focus on your skills and capabilities, not that over-sized hoop earrings, cocktail ring, or nose ring. Avoid being too flashy. Leave the gold chain at home.
4. "Best foot forward," taken literally, shoes can make or break a good first impression. They don't have to be new, but they need to be clean. Gentlemen should invest on a good leather pair of loafers, oxfords, or monk-straps. For the ladies, it is recommendable to wear a good pair of low-heeled pumps or Maryjanes, as flats can be too casual.
5. Don't overdress or be too casual. Sounds like common sense, but some of us neglect to research the company you are applying for. Not only that you will set yourself apart from other candidates, but by doing your homework, you will gain a better insight on the company's culture and office atmosphere. If you are applying for a Finance, legal, or account executive position in a corporate setting, you might want to dress in business formal attire. If you are applying at a start-up, or a more relaxed environment, a full on suit might be a bit much. But this doesn't mean you should show up in yoga pants, jeans, flip-flops, and t-shirt. A clean button-down shirt with khaki or slacks, and clean pair of shoes for a guy. A dress shirt or blouse (that doesn't show cleavage), pencil skirt, and pumps for a woman.
Most importantly, remember that the best armor you can have is confidence!