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Fashion Forecast: Interview Dress Code

This month, couture will rule the runways during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Fashion trends come and go, but interview attire advice is perennial. Here are four tips:

1. Know the company. Context is everything. You’ll dress very differently for an interview as a plumbers apprentice than a history professor. Likewise an established financial firm will expect more conservative dress, while a Silicon Valley start-up will encourage something more contemporary.

2. Don’t underdress. Err on the side of caution. Underdressing communicates you are not taking the position or opportunity seriously. The rule of thumb is that you should dress for the interview a couple steps above what you would wear at the job.

3. Accessorize with personality. Interview dress remains conservative, but it needn’t be completely uniform and bland. Accessories are the best place to let your personality speak—just be sure they it doesn’t yell! For men, an interesting and tasteful tie choice sets the tone. For a woman, her choice of scarf or jewelry hints at her style.

4. Mind the details. As you consider your wardrobe choice, don’t forget to inventory the small things. It’s far too common for men to overcompensate for nervousness with cologne and put their interviewers off. It would be much better for a woman to arrive at an interview with no nail polish than badly chipped polish.

Make wise choices with your attire so that the interviewer isn’t distracted by your outfit and can get to know you—that is, after all, the real point.