Dress Code 101: Jobs and interview style
Published: Thursday, October 6, 2005
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 17:01
Two summers ago, I interned with an advertising agency in New York City. Coming back from lunch one afternoon, my boss asked, somewhat exasperatedly, why many of the interns thought it was okay to wear flip-flops and "party outfits" to the office.
"I don't care if it's 'casual Fridays.' This wouldn't have been acceptable 20 years ago," he said.
So times have changed. There is no longer a clear line in our closets between "work" and "play" clothes. We've undoubtedly become more lax when it comes to the acceptable styles in the working world, continuing to mix and match dressy with casual.
At some point during our college career, many of us will have to decide what this interview and job style is for ourselves. There are inherently different standards of dress depending on whether you are interviewing for internships, jobs, or even an on-campus position. Someone interviewing for one of the big four is going to have different standards from the first day of teaching elementary school or interviewing for a service trip.
Regardless of the circumstances, there are some basic guidelines that employers and interviewers feel strongly about.
The Boston College Career Center recently hosted a career fair for all classes and all majors in Conte Forum.
It was impressive to see people in business suits and black and white ensembles to meet with prospective employers. Even though the mass of black and white suits was overwhelming, it was definitely effective.
Better for a future employer to remember you as well dressed and ambitious than as that one kid (because there's always one) in ratty jeans and a wrinkled tee that they picked up off the floor of a Mod.
Something my grandmother, the seamstress, used to say was that you can never be inappropriately dressed if you are overly dressed. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. But when it comes to interviewing or a first day, the more formal and put together, the better the first impression. There is plenty of time to scope out the scene and inquire further about the style and formality of the setting.
A first impression isn't the time to wow prospective employers with your funky style or your original taste. That time is generally after you get chosen. New clothes hold true to this fashion rule as well. While I love new clothing as much as the next person, there's looking good and there is good-looking clothing with a disheveled candidate. I've worn a pair of shoes so painful that I had to walk through Government Center barefoot, and I've seen men with chafing necks due to a new button down. Even though your new clothing looks great, being preoccupied with your clothing isn't going to give a desired image to an employer. It's also going to leave you feeling defeated, and definitely not doing your best work.
The same goes for flip-flops. While you could probably get away with wearing them after accepting a position to work with a company, flip-flops for an interview or a first day are a definite no-no.
Although most of us live in our flip-flops, this can indicate to an employer that you plowed through some beer cans under the TV, found your black reefs, and rolled on up to the interview just in time not to be late. At some point we have to hang up the flip-flops and break out the business attire.