Just as I clicked “publish” on last week’s post about appropriate attire for an interview with a recruiter, the office phone rang. I answered, and scheduled the candidate on the other end of the line for an appointment with Renee. “I’ll be stopping by there right after my shift ends, so I’ll have my work clothes on – will that be ok?” I couldn’t help but smile to myself and nod as I answered, “Yes, of course.”
The “appropriate dress” issue can be stretched in a number of directions. In this person’s case, what he would already be wearing would have to do – it would not be convenient for him to drive home and change into the standard charcoal, black, or navy business ensemble given various circumstances. He addressed the subject up front and was very polite; I like his professionalism already.
This simple exchange revved up the fashion-thinking part of my brain; I started reminiscing about the various dress codes I’ve had to follow in the past, and how I’ve changed my view regarding “work clothing”. When I was 18 and working as a bank teller in the summer, I cringed at the thought of wearing business casual clothes appropriate for warmer weather on a daily basis. Pantyhose were preferred with skirts, close-toed shoes preferred over open toed/ sandals, so I avoided all confusion and wore dress pants with pumps most of the time. It was very chilly in the teller line area due to the blasting A/C that kept customers cool in the waiting area, so cardigans and pants were usually the order of the day for me. Back then, my clothing creativity was low, as I was just starting out with a “real job” that required “real dress clothes”. I did not like my clothes, and wanted nothing more than to finish the workday just so I could change into jeans, a graphic t-shirt, and flip flops.
Now, 10 years later, I’ve grown to actually prefer my work wardrobe over everything else in my closet. With a decade of business casual/professional clothing practice, I’ve perfected the art of putting together a work outfit that I feel great in. Oddly, I now feel very unprofessional in jeans (unless they are dark rinse, fitted perfectly.) The flip-flops, however? I still love them.
I think the real key in dressing to impress is to wear “it” well. Regardless of the clothes you possess, wear them neatly. Handle the working conditions and situations with ease and class. Stand tall and confident. Smile. Be respectful and act friendly. Believe in yourself. Your clothes and your personality combine to create an identity which we use to help find the perfect career opportunity, and while it’s rather light on the scale of factors that influence your career, what you bring through the door does matter.
I’m pretty sure “the man in the work clothes” will look just fine when he arrives for his interview appointment; he’s already made a great first impression just by inquiring about the subject. Prior to his arrival, I know 1) what he’ll be wearing and why, and 2) that he respects us as a business and wants to look acceptable. His first impression? It was a great one.