Dress for Success: Tips for Choosing What to Wear to Work or an Interview

By Eileen (Xin) Ai

Hilary Clinton rockin’ the “Color Contrast Theory”

If you have an upcoming interview or your first day of work is quickly approaching, you could be wondering about what to wear. The S/X event Interview and Business Dress For Success, held on Tuesday, March 12, presented all kinds of tips on what to wear for work and interview. Here is a quick recap:

First off, you should know what your “color contrast level” is. Color Contrast Theory tells you what combinations of color would look best on you. The level of color contrast is determined by comparing the color of your hair and the color of your skin tone. People with a high contrast level should wear colors that are of higher contrast; people with lower contrast level should wear colors that are closer to their skin tone. For example, if you have blond hair and very pale skin, you have a low level of color contrast since the color of your hair is close to the color of your skin; you would look better wearing, for example, a white jacket with a creamy yellow skirt. If you have dark hair and fair skin, you could have a medium to high level of contrast; therefore, you might choose a white blouse and a dark skirt.

“Darker colors tend to project a powerful and authoritative image, while medium colors signal a friendly and approachable character.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says red is a go!

55% of a first impression is comes from one’s appearance, facial and body language. What you wear ultimately determines what your boss or interviewer will think of you. A basic understanding of how different colors can project certain images will prevent you from making a bad impression: darker colors tend to project a powerful and authoritative image, while medium colors signal a friendly and approachable character. Light and pastels should be avoided because the image is too soft and often accompanied by the tag of “nice and sweet.” Note that red and purple are the only acceptable bright colors in traditional business settings. If you are interviewing at a law firm or a traditional finance firm, it is better to go for purple, red, and darker colors.

While a man’s most appropriate business attire is a suit, shirt, and tie, a woman can also consider wearing a suit or coordinated separates. A jacket should be worn to the following occasions: when being interviewed, making a presentation, meeting a client for the first time, and going to an important meeting or a court appearance.

You are now fashion-ready for your interview. Don’t forget to smile and good luck!

Eileen (Xin) Ai is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Peru This Week and Wikimedia Commons.

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