You: The Brand – Using Wardrobe & Image to Get the Job in a Hyper-Visual, Hyper-Competitive World.

This week’s guest blog is by Dena A. Lorenzi (@faithinfashion on twitter) who is blending job search and fashion advice in this great overview of how your personal – visual – image plays into your job transition success. A great read!

You: The Brand – Using Wardrobe & Image to Get the Job in a Hyper-Visual, Hyper-Competitive World.

How’s your job search going? You’ve networked. You’ve updated your LinkedIn profile and used social networks to learn about leads. You’ve revamped your resume to tailor your background and experiences to each job posting.

And then, finally, an opportunity presents itself. You’ve got an interview lined up for next Friday at 1:00pm. Have you thought about what you’re going to wear? Fashion isn’t frivolous. Thinking about image and wardrobe is more important than ever. The Department of Labor reported that in January 2010 there were 14.8 million unemployed Americans. Hiring managers are inundated with applications. How are you differentiating yourself from the pack?

Personal image, according to Robin Fisher [@polishedimage], President of Polished, a full-service personal styling- and image consulting agency, is “what you visually and non-verbally communicate to the public through personal appearance and social etiquette. 55-70% of your first impression is determined by your clothes, grooming and posture.” If you are exclusively invested in your content and you ignore the power of your image, you are missing a critical element of your overall effectiveness. Are you allowing a professional image to support you?

Jacqueline M. Peros [@Imagestylexpert] of JMP Image & Style, suggests that an “applicant do research on the standard or accepted attire for not only that particular industry but also the corporate culture of where he/she will be interviewing. You wouldn’t want to show up in a creative/artistic ensemble in a financial corporation. It’s imperative to communicate that you fit in and appropriately represent your industry/company.”

So stand out, to not be screened out. Think critically about what’s appropriate, professional and comfortable to ensure a positive return on your image.

Lisa McLatchie, the stylist behind Practical Fashionista [@pracfashionista], reminds us not to forget that a business formal look “is more conservative and refined. For men and women, that means a classic, tailored suit in neutral or dark colors. Wearing big patterns and anything too bright, trendy, and sexy is distracting for the interviewer.” Use color and accessories to incorporate personal style with conservative suiting.

Kimberly Gomez, Image Consultant & Fashion Stylist, Impeccable Image LLC [@impeccableimage] and I offer these interview wardrobe and grooming basics for women and men:

  • Wear a suit – either pants or [women] a knee-length [or just above] skirt; colors: navy blue, gray/charcoal or black; no brown: brown is a subordinate color.
  • Wear a light colored, no see-through blouse/shirt; colors: white, ivory, blue, light green [no bright or loud colors].
  • Women: wear necessary underpinnings i.e., shell, blouse, or camisole. Avoid revealing the 6 B’s: breasts, butts, backs, bellies, bras, and briefs.
  • Invest in a properly fitting bra and seamless underwear. Wear a shaper, if necessary.
  • Women: Wear flesh-colored hosiery with a skirt.
  • Make sure shoes are in good repair and polished: women 1-3 inch heels okay but no stilettos; men: black and brown shoes okay.
  • Invest in a quality, black or dark brown brief case.
  • Cover all tattoos and do not wear any body piercings.
  • Wear minimal, conservative jewelry such as pearl earrings, watch.
  • Don’t overpower with cologne or perfume.
  • Women: Wear neutral makeup. Men: Don’t wear any makeup! [Just wanted to see if you were paying attention!]
  • Be well groomed [face, teeth, hair, nails].

Need more help? Check out Melissa McGraw and Jennifer Gregory’s terrific site, {@WorkChic] to get outfit suggestions for the perfect suit for your next interview. The duo puts together looks that blend professional silhouettes with trendier pieces.

Judith Rasband [@judithrasband], owner of The Conselle Institute of Image Management, says, “Creating an authentic, appropriate, attractive image will allow you to feel more confident, more capable, more productive, and appear more credible.”

Every day is an opportunity. If you are dressed for it, I see a job in your future.

Dena A. Lorenzi is an independent marketing professional and fashion enthusiast who blogs as @FaithInFashion on Twitter and presents her You: The Brand seminar to college seniors and corporations.


  1. What a fantastic article – great advice!!

    Comment by Allison — April 8, 2010 @ 10:25 am

  2. Great article, Ilona–I like the way you’ve brought together other experts to share their insights on this.

    I’d like to know how an applicant might “do research on standard or accepted attire” for a particular industry and company. What resources do your experts suggest, and how can one make best use of them?


    Comment by Robert Dagnall — April 8, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  3. Hey Robert!

    Actually, it’s written by Dena Lorenzi : )

    But to answer your question: I would suggest tapping into their own network to see if they know someone at the company to get the inside scoop on dress code. Or, check out the employees as they go to work (or leave) to get a general feel for it.

    Maybe Dena has additional tips – I’ll ask her!

    Thanks for your comment and great question!

    Comment by careerbranches — April 8, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  4. Dear Robert,

    I’m glad you found the article useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment [and compliment] :-D I love your question! Yes, certainly understand well the position you are interviewing for & with whom you’ll be interviewing. To determine sartorial standards at a company, I conduct a bit of online and offline research. Online, Google [or YouTube] your target company. Some companies have their dress-code policies online. Look at the company’s website. Many companies have employee photos and some interior shots of the company location. Generally speaking, the larger the company the more formal it is; smaller to medium-sized businesses tend toward business casual attire. However, remember that certain professions have a more formal dress code such as lawyers, accountants … also, the more interaction you may have with a client and/or public the more emphasis on dressing/image than a programmer in a non-client contact position. Also, keep in mind geography plays into dress code. Northeast vs. West etc. I agree w/Ilona’s suggestions to ask a contact at the company re: dress code or observe employees in the target company’s parking lot … picking up clues. Also, the most straightforward bit of advice is simply to ASK the person who is scheduling/requesting the interview; if you feel reluctant to do so, call HR and ask your question. If I got invited to a party, I’d ask the hostess about the dress code, right? You don’t want to advertise yourself as a minor-leaguer by not taking the interview seriously. Your outfit reveals intellect and respect for the person you are meeting with AND self-respect. Trying to be very creative and eccentric is more likely to do you harm. If the job you want is creative and artistic, you might consider highlighting your individuality. Extra thought needs to be put into pulling a creative outfit together … keep it artistic and elegant. Also, don’t necessarily take your cues from fashion magazines. Overall, I tend to be disappointed by what is depicted in the glossies as appropriate work attire. If in doubt, go to Nordstrom’s and find a salesperson whose taste level you like and ask him or her to pull together 3 looks for your interview. It is best to err on the side of conservatism. It is much better to be overdressed than underdressed (or undressed!). Finally, remember that a lunch interview is still an interview!!! If you meet an executive at Panera’s, stick with soup and don’t dress sloppily.

    Good luck and best wishes,

    Comment by Dena A. Lorenzi — April 10, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

  5. Dena, that’s precisely the kind of practical insight I was hoping for. Thank you!

    I particularly like the recommendation to ask a well-dressed salesperson at a better store. My father, a truck driver, taught me to knot ties the same way you’d secure cargo on a flatbed trailer. One day I was walking through a department store in NYC, and an older gentleman approached me from the men’s department offering to correct my tie. 3 minutes later I could tie a four-in-hand blindfolded. He refused my offer of payment/tip, commenting kindly that he simply couldn’t stand seeing a tie treated that way…

    Comment by Robert Dagnall — April 12, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

  6. Thank you! Great story – so funny! May I use your story as an anecdote in an upcoming fashion presentation? Best regards, Dena

    Comment by Dena Lorenzi — April 12, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  7. Dena, I’d be honored if you’d use my anecdote. If you write something up online, would you link to Thanks!


    Comment by Robert Dagnall — April 15, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

  8. Great tips! As a relatively new blogger, I don’t get many comments, but it’s so exciting when I do! I will definately try your tips. Thanks!

    Comment by what not to wear — April 28, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

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