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What to Wear to a Job Interview

From your hair to your shoes, we've got the answers here.

New Year, new you, new…job? If 2014 is the year you kiss your crappy 9-to-5 goodbye, good for you! You’ve got a killer resume, you’ve networked your butt off, and finally--finally--you’ve landed an interview at a great place. But now that the big day is here, what do you wear? A suit? What if it’s a start-up with a ping-pong table in the office? (In which case, you better ace that interview because that sounds awesome.)  Whatever question you may have, we’ve got the answer. Except for “How would your friends describe you?” That one’s tricky.

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You’re Always Safe with a Good Suit

When in doubt, go with a suit. No, not the ill-fitting one you got your sophomore year of college. Think of this as an investment–you pay more for better quality, and the thing might last you until you’re looking for your next next job. Otherwise, stores like H&M or Zara sell more affordable, fashionable options. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how much you’re willing to spend, the key to looking good is always fit. Do the shoulders lie flat? Are your sleeve cuffs exposed a bit? Does the hem of your pants lightly graze the top of your shoe? These are rules you should follow. Also, go with navy or gray instead of black–black is risky and might make you look washed out–and stick to solids when choosing a shirt. (They just look cleaner.)

Casual Interview? Try a Sport Coat and Trousers

Maybe you’re just “exploring opportunities” thanks to a friend’s introduction. Maybe your potential boss is Dane, a 20-something with a great start-up idea. You know your interview will be casual (Does Dane even own a suit?), but a bad idea would be to waltz in there wearing a t-shirt and jeans. This is not your buddy, you’re still trying to make a good impression. A sharp-looking (and again, well-fitting) sport coat and some trousers are your best bet.

Colors Mean More than You Think

Our brains are funny things. We see a color and subconsciously associate that color with a quality. Want to seem logical and analytical? Studies say to wear gray. Trying to look powerful? Incorporate red somewhere into your outfit. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, most employers said blue was the best color to wear to an interview, while orange was the worst. (They thought it looked unprofessional.)

Accessories Matter

Tie? Always. Sneakers? Never. Don’t come in with your resume in a folder, rather opt for a portfolio like this one from Amazon ($39) or stick it in a briefcase. Get an updated pair of black or brown dress shoes and ditch any square-toed options you have. Pronto.

Don’t Forget Grooming

Do we really need to remind you to shave? Shave. Brush your hair (and don’t spike it or do some messy, too-casual style) and add some product to keep it in place. Many employers hate strong-smelling cologne, so go easy when spraying, or skip the stuff altogether.

Are you ready? Good luck! 

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