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Style

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12 tips for looking professional at a job interview

Andrew Taylor with College Fashionista founder Amy Levin (left) and style blogger Shayna Straus at a clinic.

Sheryl Pace photographY

Andrew Taylor with College Fashionista founder Amy Levin (left) and style blogger Shayna Straus at a clinic.

Ann Taylor Style Director Andrew Taylor recently paid a visit to the brand’s new concept store at the Prudential Center and came bearing lots of advice for new college grads embarking on the job search. Taylor, who graduated from Boston University, cohosted the event with College Fashionista founder Amy Levin and dished out practical and stylish wardrobe advice for all the would-be professionals out there. Some of these rules may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many young job and internship candidates break them every day. Do you have your first round of job interviews coming up? (If so, a hearty congratulations to you; don’t blow it.) Or do you just want to rev up your 9-to-5 wardrobe? Check out Taylor’s dos and don’ts — and follow them.

DON’T go too casual

“Dressing for work is so important because first impressions are key,” Taylor says. “One of the biggest mistakes we see people make is they underdress. Dress up. It’s very important to look polished and professional and chic. Put some time and thought into what you wear.”

DO wear a jacket (even if you take it off afterward)

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“When in doubt, grab a blazer. A jacket always establishes credibility.”

DON’T let the weather get to you

“Don’t fall into the danger of going too casual in the summertime with flip-flops or things like that. When in doubt, go for a closed toe with a heel.”

DO invest in a great staple

“A great key investment for this season is what we’re calling day-to-night dresses. This is a dress you can wear to the office with a blazer and look polished and professional and then at night, lose the blazer and put on a statement piece of jewelry and higher heels. Then you’re ready to go out.”

DON’T be restricted by Plain Jane
suiting

“Women have evolved in the way they’re dressing for the workplace,” Taylor says. “It’s not about head-to-toe suiting anymore, it’s more about easy-to-mix separates. A great solution is a great pencil skirt with a beautiful blouse and a cropped jacket. It’s a nice combination of things and you still look very pulled together.”

DO go for a heel

“A heel projects a sense of confidence. You don’t have to go with a sky-high heel, you can go for a kitten heel.”

DO bring color into your work wardrobe

“This spring season is so much fun, and one of the key trends is color, but some of these bright, vibrant neon hues can be a challenge for some women. If you’re not the woman that wants to try out that fuchsia dress, you can go for a neutral suit and use a skinny belt or shoes for a pop of color. I love a tan suit with a hot pink belt.”

DON’T turn into trendzilla

“Another mistake is sometimes women let their clothes overpower them. It’s important to dress in a way that lets your personality shine through but not going too far, because you should wear the clothes. The clothes shouldn’t wear you.”

DO find a good fit — or a great tailor

“We’re still seeing slim silhouettes when it comes to pencil skirts, pants, and dresses. Fit is very important — you don’t want to wear clothes that are too baggy.”

DON’T go too short

“You want to make sure the length is right on your pant and skirt. Don’t go too short in the office environment. For skirts, have it hit the knee to be safe.”

DO turn to your peers

“Do research before you go to the company. It’s important to find out the culture of the company, so go onto sites like LinkedIn.com. What I’ve done in the past is called receptionists before and just asked, ‘How do people dress at the office?’ A lot of women are going into more creative fields so you don’t necessarily have to wear a suit. But when in doubt, dress up.”

DON’T forget that the person conducting the interview may not be your peer

“Employers are often from another generation and they do want to see that you dress with respect and are interested in showing you will take the job very seriously.”

Rachel Raczka can be reached at rraczka
@boston.com.

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