Written by Katie Steslicki
It’s true that your first impression is the most important, especially when it comes to seeking employment. You must dress professionally, competitively and appropriately. For both guys and girls, remember that your idea of trendy might not match the interviewer’s perspective on what’s fashionable, so error on the side of dressing conservatively when you interview.
DON’T: Be lazy. Cutoff shorts, deep V-neck T’s, flip-flops or TOMS will not impress your potential employer. They are best kept amongst the Indie band crowd.
DO: Invest in a good set of dress pants and at least two nice button-up dress shirts. Be sure at least one coordinating tie is on the radar.
DON’T: Forget your socks. Although you may glean some particle of manliness through straight up skin to sole contact, no one — especially a potential employer — likes stinky bare feet!
DO: Get your shoes shined! A pair of sleek black dress shoes will score big time. Opt for a loafer style shoe like a Sperry brand (knockoffs welcome!) or a classic shiny black dress shoe.
DON’T: Think that everyone appreciates the “natural” look. Make sure to be well groomed: tidy hair on both your head and your face. Shave the night before so you don’t have to rush in the morning. But if you’re the “5 o’clock shadow at noon” type, leave enough time to shave the morning of your interview.
DON’T: Use this as an excuse to buy a Bumpit. Keep the teasing to a minimum and be sure to tame the rat’s nest to an inhabitable level. A future employer does not want to hire someone who can hide things in their hairdo.
DO: Go retro. Think back to a time when hemlines and necklines existed and emulate that. Most professional employers are still somewhat old-fashioned. Your winning wardrobe should include a basic colored skirt that allows you to sit comfortably (and appropriately) and a nice blouse or dress shirt. Present yourself as a responsible professional adult.
DON’T: Think high fashion. Frill, shimmer and glam are definite strikeouts. This is not the place to demonstrate your hidden talent for eclectic garment pairing. DO: Step it up with a classy pair of heels. Ross, Target and Wal-Mart offer affordable and fashionable interview appropriate shoes. Go for a closed toe with either a kitten heel or medium height heel. Use this as a chance to add a little color to the outfit.
DON’T: Go stiletto! Death-defying height is not the objective here. The taller they are, the harder they fall.
THE CASUAL DATE
Whether they are on a GYRAD or a real date, college students tend to misunderstand the term “casual.” Guys might view this as an opportunity to institute a “Date Shirt” — a hideous neon mess that each male is required to wear on a first date — while ladies often interpret this word to mean a mini fashion show where the world is her catwalk. The idea here is to understand that your attire directly demonstrates your intentions for the date. So dress wisely, my friends.
DO: Decide for yourself. Wear your favorite T-shirt, whether it’s a V-neck, polo or a band T. If you feel comfortable in it, you’ll act like yourself, and it will demonstrate a bit of your personality.
DON’T: Be a fool. Leave the “Date Shirt” at home. This funny joke among guys does not translate well to the female population. Any over-the-top T-shirt with neon, spray paint or creepy cartoon characters is best left with the guys … where it belongs.
DO: Flip out! Break out those flip-flops, TOMS and slip-ons. You may have had to ditch them for the interview, but these puppies are perfect for the kickback atmosphere of a casual date.
DON’T: Trust the sniff-and-go test; it almost always fails. Rubbing a dryer sheet over your shirt and spritzing on some cologne will only mask the stench that tends to hover around the male habitat for so long.
DO: Consider a nice pair of jeans. These will help set the casual tone while still allowing you to be comfortable. Just be sure to keep the rips and tears to a minimum.
DO: Feel comfortable in your own skin! What outfit do you feel the most like yourself in? Wear that! Your favorite pair of jeans is the perfect item for exuding confidence and uniqueness.
DON’T: Dress to impress. Magazines over emphasize “glam” and “chic” in casual dressing. Short, tight skirts, sequins and boots with the fur are best left for the fancier dates in the future.
DO: Rock the kicks! Depending on the date activity, decorative flats or simple boots will show you put effort into getting ready but didn’t overthink the outfit.
DON’T: Start a fire! Hairspray is flammable so consider how much your hair will require, then use about half as much. Stray away from any hairstyle that calls for helmet head proportions of your Aqua Net.
THE DAY TRIP TO L.A.
The wonderful land of Los Angeles holds many opportunities for excitement, adventure and spontaneity, but much like Disneyland, it requires walking endurance and the motto of the Boy Scout: “Be prepared!” L.A. has two sides — the daytime sightseeing and the high fashion nightlife — so dress creatively.
DO: Break out your “Sunday Best” jeans. A pair of dark wash casual jeans is great for exploring the wonders of Los Angeles by day and then exuding your classy fashion for an exclusive nighttime museum exhibit.
DON’T: Sell yourself short. Shorts are not always the best idea. The temperature typically drops drastically at night, so you’ll find yourself shivering instead of stylish. Apply the same principle to overly holy jeans as well.
DO: Bring along a blazer or nice sweater. This will be crucial in transitioning your daytime garb into appropriately classy eveningwear.
DON’T: Break the bank. Just because L.A. has the stigma of high fashion, do not feel obligated to purchase a completely new set of clothes to feel accepted.
DO: Slip it on. Chuck’s, Vans, TOMS or any other kind of slip-on shoe is great for walking around L.A. and is also easy to convert into a dressier outfit for a nice evening dinner.
DO: Layer it up. Wearing several layers will allow you to adapt to your environment, whether it gets warm, cold or fancy. Versatile clothing is the best option for L.A. Opt for a darker wash pair of jeans that can easily transform into high fashion at night. Bring along a cardigan or blazer to put over your top for the nightlife scene.
DON’T: Dress like a celebrity. Most Los Angeles websites emphasize the casual nature of the city. Avoid high heels and fancy dresses during the daytime.
DO: Accessorize. Sunglasses, bracelets, earrings, scarves — all of these items are small, fun and easily interchangeable. A scarf is perfect for browsing street vendors by day and glitzy earrings for a fancy dinner by night.
DON’T: Settle for flip-flops. They won’t provide the protection or comfort your feet are going to need when walking around the grimy streets of L.A. Plus, they won’t work so well if you decide on an impromptu dinner at a classy café.
DO: Keep it small. Bring along a small purse or cross shoulder bag large enough to fit your phone and point-and-shoot but small enough to not stand out.