How to Dress for Success

By Pack, Thomas | Information Today, December 2003 | Go to article overview

How to Dress for Success


Pack, Thomas, Information Today


According to the book At Ease Professionally: An Etiquette Guide for the Business Arena, the first impression you make on someone consists of three components: words, 7 percent; vocal quality, 35 percent; nonverbal communication, including body language and appearance; 58 percent.

Clearly, how you look determines how people evaluate you. And if you're getting ready for a job interview, you truly need to dress for success.

Last month, I showed you how to find online advice about dressing up your resume. This month, in the second of a three-part series on using Web resources to launch or advance your career, I'll talk about Web sites that offer tips on how to create a job-winning appearance.

Advice for Professional Men

If you're a man, you're lucky. You just put on a suit and make sure your shoes aren't too scuffed, right?

Well, it's not that simple, according to the Men's Wearhouse site (http://www.mens wearhouse.com). Yes, menswearhouse.com is designed primarily to sell clothes, but it also offers a great deal of free advice on the right way to dress for a job interview. Look for the Dress for Success page in the Guy'dLines section. There, you'll find detailed information on choosing and caring for a suit. Color, fabric, and style are addressed.

Here's a sample: "If you're interviewing for a position in marketing, advertising, hightech, service industries, and other more creative or casual fields, you can go with ... a more fashion-forward suit, such as three- or four-button models in earth tones or possibly even black. Add houndstooth and more textured fabrics in lighter to medium tones ... as well as non-vented jackets with extended shoulders. Here's a general rule of thumb: The more creative the work environment, the more creative your options for the color and style of your attire."

The site also offers tips on shirts, shoes, and accessories (such as "When coordinating colors, remember, leather to leather and metal to metal. Always match the color of your belt with your shoes and the color of your belt buckle with your watch"). And there's animated, step-by-step information on how to tie a tie. You can learn the Windsor knot, the half-Windsor, the four-in-hand, and the bow-tie knot.

You can also find tie-tying tips and information on men's shirts and suits at DressForSuccess.com. And you might want to take a look at that site's checklist for a basic business wardrobe. It's a complete inventory of the items every man should have: the number and color of suits, shoes, belts, etc. For example, did you know that professional men are supposed to have at least six white shirts and six in such colors as blue, pink, and ecru? DressForSuccess.com also sells a video called Men Style (for just $3.95), which the site claims is "the only video to ensure interview and business-dress success."

Comprehensive Guidance

A useful site for both men and women is Quintessential Careers (http://www .quintcareers.com/dress_for_success .html). An introductory article offers general advice for both sexes. Then you can select pages with specific tips for men (such as "If you have any visible body parts pierced, most experts recommend removing all jewelry, including earrings") or for women ("Skirt length should be a little below the knee and never shorter than above the knee--no Ally McBeals here"). Photos illustrate examples of correct formal and casual business attire.

The Web site with the most comprehensive advice on business clothing is Syms Dress to Achieve (http://www.syms dress.com). According to the home page, the site was created "to help educate college seniors about the basics of proper dress and other helpful tips to present themselves in the best possible light during job interviews. It's a fact: First impressions are lasting impressions. In today's highly competitive job market, everything counts and everything is critical. …

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