A friend in graduate school had a philosophy that has stuck with me: “look good, feel good, do good” which goes hand-in-hand with my dress to impress for success mantra.
The idea is that taking the time to polish your outward appearance will affect how you feel and your increased confidence will produce better work. A 2013 study conducted by Katherine Karl and colleagues supports this. When wearing business casual attire, rather than casual clothing, participants of the study reported feeling more:
Karl and colleagues described this as “you are what you wear” or, in the words of my friend, if you look good, you will feel good and do good!
What exactly is ‘business casual’?
Dictionary.com defines business casual as “a style of casual clothing worn by businesspeople at work instead of more formal attire.” Take a moment to bask in the vagueness of that definition.
A simple Google search reveals many interpretations, as discussed in a Forbes.com article. However, the most commonly accepted interpretation is a collared – also known as – ‘polo’ shirt with neutral or dark coloured slacks or skirt. What it doesn’t include is jeans, a t-shirt, or skirts that are too short or tight.
What should I wear to an interview?
You may have heard the old adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” When interviewing for a job, it is better to over-dress rather than under-dress, but do your homework! Is this a company that would be impressed by your fancy suit, or are they more laid-back, in which case ‘business casual’ would be more appropriate? As a bonus, taking the time to research the company to the point of knowing how to dress for the interview will not go unnoticed!
Whilst we live in an age of self-expression, a job interview is not the appropriate time or place. Be aware of:
In most cases, if you are interviewing for a job that interacts directly with people, your chances of landing that job will greatly increase by having a more conservative outward appearance. If you have piercings, remove them or replace with simpler styles; tattoos should be covered as much as possible. Keep hair and make-up simple.
Remember, you only have one chance to make that first impression – make it memorable, but in a GOOD way!
I got the job! Now what do I wear?
When you do land that job, ask your new manager or human resources officer if there is a dress code and always adhere to it. When in doubt, err on the side of conservative, because looking attractive is not the same as looking professional. And lastly, recall the words of my friend: “look good, feel good, do good.” Confidence in your appearance will reflect in the quality of work you produce.