We all want to look our best, but the problem is that what looks good in one situation can look stupid in another. Fortunately, there are basic guidelines for making a good impression on almost everyone in almost any situation.
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At A Job Interview
A suit should still be your go-to job interview attire, even if it’s the only time you ever wear one unless you’re applying to work in an office where you’ll be penalized for being too stodgy or buttoned-up. Even before you open your mouth, a well-fitting suit exudes professionalism and suggests that you know what you’re talking about. If you make a mistake on a question or two, your interviewer can give you the benefit of the doubt if you present yourself professionally.
On A First Date
It’s important to look nice when dressing for a date, but it’s just as important to look like yourself. It’s great to show up in a bespoke suit or a glamorous bodycon dress, but only if that’s your go-to look (and if your date is to a fancy dinner, not the batting cages). The best first impression you can give your date is one that is real. A good way to ensure you’re doing so is to gather a collection of your favourite outfits—the ones you wear all the time—and then choose one that’s appropriate for your date venue from there.
For Your First Day at A New Job
First and foremost, let your office dress code and/or any discreet observation of your fellow workers be your guide; you’ll have plenty of time to push the fashion envelope once you have a better understanding of your workplace norms. Beyond that, the best first-day-of-work outfit is one that makes you look calm, at ease, and centred. The typical first day on the job includes plenty of walking around, meeting new people, and setting-up up your workspace. Look to wear shoes you can walk comfortably in, fabric that doesn’t scratch or snag, and a top that allows you a full range of motion if you choose to reach anything overhead. Above all, make sure your first-day-of-work clothes suit you well; you don’t want to have to fuss with your buttons all day (or worse, have a wardrobe malfunction in front of the CEO) (or worse, have a wardrobe malfunction in front of the CEO).
As A Public Speaker
If you’re addressing an audience of hundreds, speaking to a board of 20, or moderating a jury of five, what you wear to speak in public depends first and foremost on whom you’re offering it and to whom. As a general rule, you want to be as dressed-up as the best-dressed person in the building. For men, this means either a suit or a pants-and-sportcoat combo typically, tie optional. For women, anything from a pantsuit to a dress to a nicely-fitted tee and dres’ pants might be suitable. (Of course, if you’re a celebrity guest speaking to a room full of adoring fans, you can wear essentially whatever you want)
Solid colours are best for projecting authority; avoid twee prints or distracting accessories, particularly if you tend to fiddle with them. And if you want to wear a skirt, keep your hemline in mind: If you’re standing over a crowd, they can get quite a view if it hits at the knees or above.
To Your Significant Other or Spouse’s Office Party
Being a corporate plus-one has the advantage of not having to face any ramifications if you dress inappropriately. Unfortunately, you could judge your date based on your fashion faux pas, which is why it’s a good idea to dress conservatively. A suit or sport coat and button-down shirt are always a fine choice for guys; leave the novelty tie at home. For ladies, wear the little black dress (as long as it’s not too small) and leave the fun self-expression to your shoes and/or jewellery.