Island-Style Dress for Success
How to look the part - even if you're faking it
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Photo: Rae Huo
In this job market, competition is fierce. That's why it's important for candidates to make a favorable impression in the first interview. Your skills are crucial, but don't expect to be offered a job unless you also look the part, says Judy Bishop, president of Bishop & Co., an employment staffing agency. "Nine out of 10 employees will reject applications for unsuitable attire."
To ensure that your image doesn't hold you back, Bishop and presentation coach Pam Chambers offer tips on how women can dress for success Island-style and make a good impression in a job interview or in any office setting.
The Power Outfit:
- A pants or skirt suit in a neutral color, such as gray, black, navy blue or beige says you are confident and professional. (Skirts should be no shorter than two inches above the knee.)
- Wear a jacket that is the same color as your pants or skirt. This also creates a longer, leaner silhouette. (A jacket that ends at the hip will conceal a less than perfect tummy.)
- Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color with a blouse, although you should stay away from large or distracting prints. Neutral colors work well, too, for a clean, refined look.
- Leather pumps with thicker, chunkier heels — no more than 1.5 to 2 inches — in neutral, conservative colors work best. Slight open-toe shoes are acceptable, but footwear should be secured to the foot by a back or strap to prevent flapping when you walk. Flats are OK, too. Avoid stilettos or anything with too much embellishment.
- Neutral stockings should be worn with skirts and dresses (at least on the first interview).
- Follow the seven-element rule for simplicity: Your outfit shouldn’t consist of more than seven pieces total. For example: A blouse, pants and jacket = three pieces. That leaves room for four other elements: watch, earrings, belt (should compliment your shoes, which don’t count as a separate element) and a ring. That’s it. Less is more when it comes to jewelry.
- Avoid wearing dangly, chandelier-type earrings or anything that will be distracting by banging or clanging.
- One ring per finger for now. Get the job and then see what the boundaries are.
- Always have a notepad and pen ready.
- Bring along a pristine copy of your resume.
- Handbags should be clean and scuff-free. Briefcases are not necessary in Hawaii.
Pull It All Together:
- Hair should be clean, neatly styled and out of your face. Avoid heavy or outrageous colors/highlights. Unless you’re applying for a highly creative position, your hair should be conservative.
- Makeup should be natural. Neutral shades work best for eyes and lips.
- Bad breath, unkempt fingernails and body odor are no-nos, but that doesn’t mean bathe in your perfume.
- Be positive, smile, make eye contact, sit up straight, speak clearly and slowly and practice your mission statement.
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