Your mad skills got the interview. Now what to wear?

Start with the basics.

You know the interview essentials: a suit, clean shoes, polished nails, and an all-around pulled together look. But when it comes to an interview in a creative or tech field, the rules for what to wear might seem a little fuzzy.

You may have heard about the interviewing company’s billiard room and their funky décor or have seen online photos of staff dressed in jeans and sandals. What a company looks like from the outside doesn’t matter: when you are applying for a position in an organization you want to work for, you will need to put your best foot forward.

Your image is your calling card.

NYC style expert Bridgette Raes makes this suggestion: “Show, through what you’re wearing that you are what you are selling… You need to convey that you have the ability to visually put something together.” Raes makes an example of the choice of color you use when putting your interview outfit together. If you are interviewing as a designer you will be asked to have knowledge about colors, layout and sense of design– show that in your clothes.

Dave Siegel, a Product Experience expert at art.com, notes some very specific things that you might want to veer away from for an interview. “Don’t wear anything controversial. Don’t wear political t-shirts, or wearables with “funny” slogans, or anything like that. Keep it simple, clean, and put-together. Don’t dress like a frat boy, and don’t dress like a banker.”

You might want to stay away from this color.

When it comes to an interview, orange is not the new black. Career Builders held a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive© of 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes. They found orange topped the list for the worst color for a job interview (25 percent of employers) and was the color most likely to be associated with someone who is unprofessional. When asked to advise job seekers on the best color to wear to a job interview, employers most often recommended blue (23 percent) and black (15 percent).

Staffing agency in San Francisco Bay Area helps place professionals

When do I bring out the suit?

Are suits a thing of the past? Doesn’t sound like it. David Anaya, Lead Developer with art.com, says, “It depends on the type of suit and the position you’re applying for. With the fashion trend of higher-quality men’s attire in San Francisco, there are a lot more options to address any kind of situation.” Dave Siegel agrees it depends on the situation. “Suits aren’t required by any means. What’s most important is that you feel confident and authentic. Focus on the work, and be physically congruent with that intention.”

If wearing a suit doesn’t feel right, try a of mix formal and casual styles. For women, instead of wearing a skirt suit, wear a tailored skirt or pants and blouse. For men, a suit without the tie or a sports jacket and trousers presents a polished image without being over dressed. You can amp up any classic pieces with accessories, use a funkier pair of glasses, a colorful scarf, or interesting jewelry that isn’t a distraction but is still creative.

When in doubt, don’t.

Though it may not need to be said, just in case, here goes. No shorts or pants with “stylish” holes. No sandals or flip-flops. No hats. Do not wear sweatpants, hoodies or sneakers. These are all far too casual clothing for an interview, even if you eventually find out the company’s dress code is overly casual, it’s not worth the risk for your first time in the office.

Leave a lasting impression (in a good way).

David Anaya suggests, “Above all, you want to dress to impress while feeling comfortable and confident. Overdressing is always safer than underdressing, and with the rise of social media it’s easier than ever to get a sneak peak into your future company’s culture.”

“Be confident, but humble. Be curious and interested. Everybody has something different that they can bring to the table, and while you should compare yourself to other people, don’t let that be your only compass. And have fun—it’s contagious,” Siegel recommends.

Remember, the clothes you choose are only a small representation of what you have to offer. You want to impress them with your skills, sell them with your appearance and show them that you are the best person for the job.

And don’t forget: Wrinkles out. Shine your shoes. Spiff it up. Good luck!


About some of the wonderful people interviewed in this article

Bridgette Raes is one of the most respected, seasoned and sought after personal stylists in the country. As a writer, in addition to her blog, Bridgette’s love of accessories has given her the opportunity as an accessories expert guide and writer for Answers.com and a style contributor for Vogue Patterns Magazine among other publications. Check out her website at bridgetteraes.com.

David Anaya is Lead Front-end Developer for the art.com creative team. You can find David on Twitter at twitter.com/AnayaDesign.

Dave Siegel, Product Experience, contributes his time and talent at art.com.

Lori King-Kocsis

Lori King-Kocsis has expertise in the areas of; business development, marketing, professional development, and social media engagement. She has over 25 years experience in corporate, not-for-profit, and technology start-up arenas.

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