We are all well aware of the phrase “dress to impress”, but what does that really mean and what should one wear to actually “impress”? When it comes to securing a promotion or landing that dream job, what may be impressive to some is over under dressed to others and vice versa. It all depends on the company and the role. What is suitable for a trendy start up won’t necessarily work for a corporate giant. But there are some simple key rules to follow for impressing in the work place, whatever the job or company, which should lead you not only to sartorial success but overall success and the job you are after.
Impressing will more often than not require a suit. Unless you are eyeing up a role at one of those new breed of super-cool companies, the sort with a pool table, Nespresso® machine and bar in the ‘chill out area’, for which a pair of trousers, shirt and a jacket would be as smart as it gets, then a suit is a must.
On that note, however casual, creative or relaxed a company may appear, never wear a t-shirt. A cashmere sweater, fine knit or casual shirt is always a wise move for even the most low key or trendy businesses.
When it comes to your suit, make sure it fits you like a glove. If not, invest in a new one. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder stated that blue was the best colour to wear for an interview, with orange the worst. So that’s a no to the zesty orange tie you thought might make an impression with, and yes to a navy, dark blue or grey suit.
Go slim cut and perfectly fitting. In other words, your suit should hug your shoulders, you should be able to fit a flat hand easily under your lapel when the top button is fastened, your jacket sleeves should cover your wrist bone, a quarter to half inch of shirt cuff should be exposed, your knuckles should lie next to the bottom of your jacket and the hem of your trousers should graze the top of your shoes.
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A white or light blue shirt is a smart and dapper choice with a grey or navy suit. But make sure your shirt is in tiptop condition - it is the small details which reveal a lot about you to your potential employer.
Go for a French cuff rather than a regular buttoned cuff as it will allow you to wear some smart cufflinks - choose simple, classic silver, mother of pearl and onyx for a polished and refined finish. Make sure your shirt is slightly longer than your jacket too, revealing those all-important cufflinks. If you are wearing an existing shirt, it might be worth investing in some solid collar stays, which you can insert into the corners of your collar to give it that stiff, brand new look. Perfect those ironing skills gents.
Wearing a tie gives you the perfect opportunity to show some flair, but leave the overly quirky or patterned ties for the Christmas party. A knitted silk tie is a sophisticated option while a bright or preppy striped tie will add a little more character and charisma. Preppy but professional is a killer combo. A gold or silver tie bar will also add a dash of debonair flair.
It goes without saying that trainers and casual shoes are a definite no no. Stick to formal dress shoes such as Oxfords or Derbies and polish them to perfection. A scruffy shoe will not score highly with potential employers even in the most casual of offices. Black works well with grey suits, while brown works well with navy.
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It is the add-ons to your suit and tie, which show your attention to detail. Do yourself a favour and get these details right. If you need to carry a CV or other vitals, then make sure you carry them in a smart portfolio or briefcase. There is nothing worse than pulling your creased CV out of a nylon gym bag or rucksack. If you need to show a business card, a smart card holder also makes a good impression.
If you are feeling particularly dapper a pocket square adds a personal touch – just make sure it complements your tie and is within the same colour palette. This is also wise for your socks. The same goes for your belt too - make sure it matches or is in the same colour palette as your shoes.