Part Two – Accessories, Makeup and Hair
Shoes are the most important fashion accessory. They can make or break your outfit. And they dictate taste. A dressier shoe can amp up a too casual outfit, and a more casual shoe can dress down an outfit. It’s best to opt for classic, solid-colored pumps with medium to low heals (3” max). Sling-backs, and simple, modern oxfords or spectators are fine runner-ups. Try to coordinate the color of your shoes with your outfit. (An exact match isn’t necessary.) And yes, you can wear black pumps with a navy outfit. A contrasting colored pump, such as red, can add a modern twist to a navy ensemble, but it’s best to avoid calling attention to your shoes on an interview. Rule of thumb: Avoid trendy shoes. And designer shoes won’t guarantee a better score. Even if your inner Carrie Bradshaw loves Louboutins, you don’t have to break the bank to get a pair for the interview. After all, you’re out of work. Just be sure your shoes look like quality and are comfortable enough so you can walk well in them. They should be polished and not appear worn, nicked, torn or dirty. Avoid overly high heels, stilettos or spiked heels, platforms, boots, flats, mules, wedgies, and open-toed shoes (which will save you money on a pedi). Stay clear of clogs, sandals, athletic shoes, metallic or shimmery shoes and fussy or overly embellished shoes. And don’t even think about flip-flops (even if they’re Prada).
Avoid carrying too much paraphernalia to the interview. A classic shoulder bag should be all that’s needed for the interview, and it should coordinate with your outfit. To avoid bringing a briefcase, try the combo method and choose a duo-purpose bag that accommodates a portfolio. Make sure it doesn’t look worn. If you love it because it has years of character, don’t bring it. Overstuffed handbags, huge totes, fussy pocketbooks, overly dressy clutches and bags with obvious designer labels can be a distraction.
Keep jewelry simple – attract, don’t distract. Jewelry shouldn’t be the first thing you notice, especially on a job interview. Wear it sparingly to refine your outfit and enhance your face. Use tiny stud earrings or small hoops. Gold, silver or pearls are best. Avoid drop earrings. Save that for evening attire. Keep bracelets and necklaces inconspicuous. Wear a watch (particularly metal). It can add power to your image in a business environment. You can never go wrong with a single string of pearls. Keep all jewelry classic and unobtrusive. Reserve rhinestones or crystals for later. Avoid oversized or multi-layered pieces, obvious pendants, jewelry with initials, logos or medallions, bright colors, anything flashy or gaudy and bangles or charm bracelets that jingle or make any kind of noise. Scarves and broaches are tricky to get right, so don’t even try.
Your most appreciated accessory – a smile. Having a happy look on your face and offering a slight smile from time to time is worth a million bucks and costs you nothing. (Before your interview, consider using an at-home teeth-whitening product to brighten your smile. Don’t sabotage your first impression with dingy teeth.)
Makeup is essential. OK, so you’ve perfected the outfit but you usually don’t wear makeup, nor do you feel you’re good at applying it. That’s no excuse. Wear it for a job interview. You’ll not only look better, you’ll be perceived as someone who makes an effort. If you still feel unsure, have your makeup done professionally or have it applied at the cosmetics counter at the department store.
Keep your makeup minimal and understated. Less is more. It’s not a wedding, photo session or a date. Don’t even think the words “glam,” “smoky” or “sexy.” Even out your skin with a light foundation or spot-cover with concealer, especially under your eyes, then add a touch of blush. Use neutral eye shadows and soft eyeliner. Lipstick is important in the workplace. It can make you appear more powerful. For your interview, apply soft peach, pink, berry or muted shades of red to your lips. Skip the “nude lip.” It can look too drab and washed out. Set your makeup with a light dusting of translucent power to keep it in place and reduce shine. Avoid bright or iridescent eye shadow, frosted lips, obvious lip liner and false eyelashes. Wear mascara. Go easy on lip gloss. Most importantly, blend, and always check for lipstick (or spinach) on your teeth before your interview.
Don’t change a hair for me. Don’t try anything drastic right before your interview. Just be sure you have a professional cut that’s not outdated. And get a touch-up if your hair is colored. Ideally, your hair should be clean and simple. Opt for smooth over wavy. Keep it classic … nothing sexified. If you wear a weave or wig, no one should know. Obvious perms are passé. Avoid trendy hairdos, spiky hair, overly processed hair, teased hair, tousled hair, bangs that are too short or too long, brassy color and obvious highlighting or multicolored hair.
Keep your hair in place. Avoid moving your hair out of your face during an interview. It’s not only annoying, it can reflect nervousness. Don’t fiddle with it, play with it, twirl it, flip it or run your fingers through it. Nothing should detract from your face. If your hair is long enough simply brush it behind your ears.
Now that my four elements of beauty are in place, you’re ready … Almost. Just four words of caution: Perfume, nails, posture and speech. They’re important. If you wear perfume, keep it very light. You’ll get bad marks if you mark your territory. Crucial. Be sure your nails are clean, short and well maintained. Go easy on the polish (or wear none at all) and make certain your nails are chip free and filed. Work on your posture and speech patterns. Stand tall with your shoulders back. When seated, keep your feet together and lean slightly forward to seem interested, and turn up the passion. Good body language signals confidence and alertness, and it can be as important, if not more so, than your verbal communication skills. Speak clearly, slowly, and don’t go up at the end of your sentences with a question. Lose “um,” “well,” “like” and “y’know.” Be a good listener and don’t interrupt. And breathe. One last thing: Before your interview, spit out your gum, toss the coffee cup and turn off your cell phone … y’know? OK, now I think you’re ready. Good luck!
Go back to Part One – Fashion