There is no avoiding it. Understanding professional dress is key to succeeding in the accounting profession (along with many other careers). When you meet someone for the first time, that person forms an opinion or judgment about you after the first 30 seconds. The large part of that judgment is based on your appearance.
Recently Brooks Brothers visited NC State MAC students to discuss various aspects of professional dress. I learned a lot from the presentation and wanted to share what I learned in this blog, along with other tips I have picked up along the way. The following 5 tips related to dress are ones that I think are crucial in landing that interview, job, promotion, etc.
5. Pay Attention!
To put it simple – pay attention to how you look. Is everything ironed? Are there any buttons missing? Do you have a stain? Is there a rip somewhere? Do you look put together? Would you hire yourself based on how you look? Sounds simple but it gets forgotten a lot!
4. Professional vs. Business Casual vs. Dressy Casual??
There are so many different categories of clothing and they all sound the exact same! Hopefully, this tip will help you the next time you get confused. Business professional is the normal interview dress code. This involves a matching suit (pants or skirt) in black, brown, or navy blue. I, personally, stick to black because it’s always flattering!
A long sleeve button down collar top is the best type of shirt to match this business professional look. Plain, plain, plain is the key. Business casual is usually the dress code for most offices. Pants, skirts, and business looking dresses are appropriate for this dress code. Sleeveless is not preferred. There are so many different types of tops that can go with business casual. This is the dress code area where I let my personal fashion shine a bit.
Don’t wear low cut, shiny, or tight tops! Dressy casual is usual used for an outside the office event that you are attending (Ex: art gallery). This includes a dressy pants suit or a nice dress with accessories. Please post comments if you have any specific questions related to this tip!
Kathy Krawczyk, a MAC professor and the Director of the MAC Program, recently was telling me about the rule of 7. Seven accessories is the maximum amount you shouldwear (including a belt). So, seven accessories would be earrings (2), bracelet, necklace, belt, ring, and a watch. Anymore and you are overdoing it. Keep the earrings simple (pearls are the best). You want your interviewer to remember you because of your personality and skills, not because of your huge distracting dangly earrings!
2. Shoes and Bags
For a business professional look, heels look the best. They make your legs look longer and help you sit and stand up straighter. Keep the heels plain and simple (think about what your mom/grandma would wear!). Leave the wedges, espadrilles, and stilettos at home. I am the type of girl who has a love/hate relationship with heels.
I love the look but they hurt my feet like crazy! So, if you know you are going to have to walk to your interview, like across campus or from your car to the interview place, just keep flip flops in your purse. Just make sure you change into your heels outside of the interview room!!! If you love flats, they will work too. Just make sure they look professional. A little heel would work better than nothing. As for bags, make sure it matches. Try not to bring in the huge luggage size purses. You are just going in for a short interview, not spending the night!
1. Always Prepare the Day Before
I remember my first interview ever. The night before I was frantically preparing interview questions and, in the midst of the preparation, forgot all about my attire options. I had simply assumed I would wear my old high school business suit.
The next morning, I went to put on my suit and, surprise, it didn’t fit. The sleeves were way too short and the pants looked like I was wearing capris. Needless to say, I didn’t hear back from the company after the interview! All the interview question preparation in the world could not have saved my lack of preparation related to clothing. Two days before the big day, try everything on. Then, if something doesn’t fit just right, you have time to adjust (also there is less stress the morning of!).
Hopefully these tips help you succeed in your next interview. Please feel free to post any comments or questions!