How to Dress to Impress
There are a variety of occasions where you'd want to dress to impress, whether at a job interview, on a first date, or at that evening gala. Fortunately there are ways to make that easier to do!
Dressing for an Interview
Research the company’s “dress code. ” Finding out what employees in the company wear before your job interview will show that you researched the job. It will also make you appear as if you'll fit into the work environment.
- You can check with the human resources department. They can let you know if there is a dress code and if there isn't ask them what people typically wear to work.
- One of the best things you can do is meet an employee from the company. Not only can you get a sense of the work environment and not just what people wear. It will give you an edge when you're at the interview.
Wear something conservative. You want to show that you take the job interview seriously. Even if the workplace tends towards jeans and t-shirts, you still want to dress up. You don't have to wear a suit, but should go for something conservative.
- For example: if you're interviewing for an office job you should probably dress up in a pantsuit or dress suit.
- If you're interviewing for something a little more unusual, wear something a little nicer than you normally would. For example: if you're a woman interviewing for a job at a coffee shop, wear a skirt and a nice top (like a sweater); if you're a guy you might wear a pair of nice slacks and a sweater or button down shirt.
Wear something that makes you feel confident. It's important that you boost your confidence when you're going to an interview because this will make you come across better in the interview. Of course make sure that you strike a balance between something that makes you feel confident and what looks professional.
- Check that you don’t have to adjust your clothing (like tugging at your skirt, etc.) and that your clothes don’t ride up inappropriately when you sit down.
- You should definitely have worn this outfit before, if only to get comfortable in it. Wearing it for the first time when you go to get interviewed will mean that you'll feel and look ill at ease.
Make sure that your shoes match the outfit. While your interviewer might not notice if your shoes work with the outfit, they will definitely notice if the shoes look out of place or scruffy. Make sure that your shoes are cleaned and shined and match what you're wearing.
- Shoes that are scuffed or scruffy-looking, or dirty are a definite don't. You also want to make sure that your shoes aren't massively uncomfortable, because that will translate into discomfort during the interview.
- For women, some good ideas for interview shoes are power flats (something clean and professional looking; nothing sparkly or out there), or low, comfortable heels. You don't want heels that make you tower over everyone or that you might wear for a night out clubbing. It makes you look irresponsible.
- For men, you should go for a pair of loafers or dress shoes as your interview shoes. Make sure, of course, that they aren't scruffy looking and that they are clean and match what you're wearing (no brown with black, for example).
Make sure you’re neatly groomed. When you look like you've just tumbled out of bed, or haven't washed in over a week, you're signalling to the interviewer that you're careless (even if you aren't).
- Grooming shows that you care about your professional appearance, which tells the interviewer that you are going to care how you appear as a member of their organization.
- Make sure that your hair and make-up is appropriate for company. It's best for an interview to keep it subtle. Don't slather on a ton of make-up (the "natural" look is best, unless it's for an interview at a department or make-up store). Make sure your hair looks clean and tamed, as much as possible.
Have at least two different outfits. This is one that a lot of people forget to do. You might be called back for a second interview and you don't want to have to wear the same outfit. Even if the base is the same for both outfits, you want to distinguish them from each other.
- For example, you might wear the same black dress slacks and dress shoes, but a different button-down shirt and tie.
Dressing For a Date
Dress for the occasion. There's no "one first date outfit fits all" unfortunately. You'll need to consider what you're doing for the first date. What you might wear for dinner at a fancy restaurant is going to be quite different from what you might wear for a hike and picnic.
- For men, if it's a more casual date (going for coffee, or something) you might wear clean jeans that are in good repair (no holes) and a nice button-down or sweater. For a more formal occasion, you might wear dress slacks in black or charcoal and a dress shirt. You could also add a tie or vest.
- For women, good casual date apparel would be your nicest pair of jeans and a nice shirt, or a skirt and nice sweater. For a more formal date you might wear a nice black dress, with nice shoes, and some jewelry. It's good to check the more formal place to see what their dress code is so that you don't over or under dress.
Wear something you feel comfortable in. No, this doesn't mean, wear your rattiest t-shirt and sweatpants. You are trying to impress your date. What it means is that you wear things that you feel comfortable in, because if you don't your uncomfortableness will translate to your date.
- Avoid wearing something you've never worn before, especially if it's a new trend you're trying. You might end up fixing your dress the entire night, or really wishing you hadn't worn those new shoes.
- It's a good idea to wear something that you'd normally wear (even if it is a little dressier than usual) so your date doesn't expect you to keep wearing something that isn't you if you date for a while.
Flatter your best features. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's very important. You want to make sure that your date sees the best parts of you. Your clothes should hide and enhance. If you need to, get help from a friend.
- Your best features could be your eyes, in which case you would want to wear something to bring them out. For example: if you have beautiful green eyes, wear a sweater in the same shade to make them more obvious.
- It's a good idea to stick to one thing, rather than trying to show off all your assets. For example: you might wear a skirt that shows off your lovely legs while wearing a sweater on top to cover up your chest.
Enhance your normal style. It's important that you don't completely change your style when you're going on a date and looking to impress. You're going to create expectations that it's going to be hard to fulfill, which will disappoint the other person and could ultimately hurt you.
- For example: if you're typical outfit is jeans and a t-shirt, you're going to want to wear something along those lines. Opt for a long-sleeved shirt, or a button down and sweater and make sure that the trousers you pick (even if they're jeans) are hole-free and fit well.
- Obviously, this doesn't apply to more formal occasions since most people don't typically dress who they dress for a formal occasion. Still, even then you want to preserve your natural style (so don't wear heels if you never wear heels, for example).
Avoid some outfit blunders. There are some things you just shouldn't do when you're trying to impress someone in a date. Avoiding these things will go a long ways towards impressing your date.
- Khakis are a big no. They're perfectly fine for day-to-day use, but they simply don't appear dressy enough for impressing your date.
- Flipflops are too casual for a date and they won't impress. Sandals are fine if it's hot, or if you're having a date at the beach, but ditch the flipflops.
- Overloading on scent is not going to win you any favors, whether it's perfume, cologne, or body spray. A couple spritzes are really all you need. You're not trying to overwhelm your date with scent.
Dressing for a Formal Occasion
Find out how formal the event is. There are lots of different terminology for formal occasions and you'll need to know where the event falls to know how to dress. Check with the party organizers, because being overdressed typically won't impress people.
- Formal and semi-formal are quite different. For a more formal occasion you'd need to wear a tuxedo whereas semi-formal would allow a dark suit instead.
- An event that's at night is going to be different than an event that happens in the day. For example: if it's a semi-formal during the day cocktail dresses, or a light-colored suit and tie combination will be what you'd wear.
Familiarize yourself with the different terms. There are a variety of different formal and semi-formal occasions where you'll need to know what the best outfit might be, if you want to impress. Evening drinks parties, weddings, even birthdays can be a formal event!
- Formal events require that men sport a complete suit. This means tie, cufflinks. Some of the trendier cities have formal events where it's allowable to come wearing a suit bit no tie. For women, formal events can be a little vague. You can do a cocktail dress, a stylish suit, or a full-on evening gown.
- Black tie for men means black tailcoat, black trousers with two satin seams on the outside legs, a white bow tie, with black or gold cull links and studs. Again, for women you can vary it between cocktail dress, suit, or evening gown.
- A cocktail party (like an early evening drinks party) means for men a dark suit. Since this is less formal you have more room for creativity (different colored dress shirts and ties and so on). For women it means cocktail dresses (these are less formal than full length evening gowns).
Have the right footwear. You want your footwear to go with your outfit and to enhance your outfit. Fortunately for formal occasions unlike, say, interviews, this is when you can break out the more exciting and fun types of shoes.
- Heels are always appropriate for dress occasions, as long as you can walk in them. Shoes that are sparkly can be a lot of fun and give you a bit of a sparkle.
- In most formal occasions dress shoes for guys are a must. Make sure that they aren't scuffed or dirty and that they go with your outfit.
Break out the accessories. Accessories were made to enliven and individualize your outfit. Make sure that you're not overloading your outfit. The right balance is different for everyone and for different occasions, but you'll need to avoid too many accessories.
- Purses and jewelry can be great additions to your outfit. Make sure that they match what you're wearing. For example: if you're wearing a red dress, you can match it with gold jewelry and a gold purse, or black jewelry and a black purse, and so on.
- Make-up can also enhance an outfit. For evening, or formal wear you may want to try out something a little more dramatic than the typical smokey eye or natural make-up.
- Cuff-links and tie pins can be great additions to a man's outfit. If you have a date, try and match their color scheme with your accessories.
- Make sure your clothes are ironed and wrinkle free.
- Don't worry about what people think because it's your opinion to chose what you wear!
- Do your best to have your clothes tailored. You can do this for not that much money. It will make everything look better on you. Why do you think celebrities look so good in their clothes? Because they've been tailored to fit them perfectly!
- It's good to try a new style, but don't risk it on special occasions. Make sure you know what looks good on you before you're trying to impress people with your clothing choices.
- Female accessories can tend to be annoying; watch out for jingly bangles or earrings, especially if you will be expected to speak or are in an intimate setting (date, wedding). The noise from these can be a distraction. The same thing applies to large earrings (door knockers and chandeliers are especially common problems).