Greetings, class of 2013! After you’ve shed the last tear for your beloved alma mater and hung up your diploma on your parents’ living room wall, it’s time for your initiation into the real world: the job hunt.

When that elusive job interview comes a-knockin’, the most common question fresh grads ask is, “what do I wear?”

Whether you’re applying to a casual artsy industry or a more formal corporate environment, it’s important to present a tidy, well-groomed and positive image of yourself. It’s always best to dress on the conservative side during interviews, and then work your way towards a more fashionable office getup once you’ve gotten a feel of your company’s daily dress code. Unless the HR manager or interviewer specifically tells you to go casual or smart casual, the general rule is to come in business attire. To help you make a good impression, here are 8 things you should stay away from when dressing up for job interviews:

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8. Too much makeup and perfume

Girls, even if you’d like to impress your potential magazine editor with your Katy Perry-meets-Nicki Minaj style, keep the makeup natural—a good foundation and concealer, filled-in brows, natural eyeshadow, subtle blush color, and natural lip color. As for guys, get a fresh shave, keep your lips chap-free with lip balm, and wipe the grease off your face before entering the room. As for the perfume, nobody wants to die of asphyxiation, not even if it’s by Chanel Nº5. Go for a light scent and stay away from those attention-grabbing party EDPs.

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7. Wild hair

For girls, a low ponytail, half updo, or neat topknot is a safe choice. For guys and girls with short hair, keep those flyaway strands at bay with a non-greasy hair product. Save your va-va-voom ‘do for casual Fridays.

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6. Loud nails

If you can’t live without nail polish, go for natural nail shades such as peach, light pink, or tan. The classic French nail polish works, too. For guys, keep your nails trimmed and your hands clean. Save your show-stopping animal-print lacquer for events and parties.

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5. Halitosis and smoky breath

Take a breath mint or gargle some mouthwash in the bathroom before the interview. Don’t chew gum during the interview. If you’re a smoker, avoid taking a puff before the interview. Smoke-scented hair is such a turnoff and the smell tends to stick to your breath even with a mask of Tictacs.

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4. Heavy accessories

Although a pair of small, non-dangling earrings is the standard, lately it’s acceptable to wear bracelets and necklaces as long as you keep it to a minimum. To be safe, stick to only one of the three types of accessories. If you have multiple piercings (do people still do that?!), just stick to one pair, and guys, don’t even think about it. A classic black or silver watch and a classic belt are all you boys need.

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3. Flashy prints and loud colors

Your hot pink or loud floral dress—even if the length falls below the knees—is a no-no. Don’t follow your peers who wear Sartorialist-inspired outfits to entry-level interviews. Although bold colors and prints are now accepted in modern business attires, keep it subtle during your interview. You want the company to think that you’re serious about your job and not peg you as a moonlighting blogger who’d rather Instagram his/her outfit of the day.

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2. Lots of skin

Micro minis, shorts, capris, rolled-up pant legs, open-toe shoes, and a bustling cleavage are no-nos. Remember that it’s a job interview, not a reality show audition or a night at the club.

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1. Scruffy and casual outfits

Some companies have a lax, casual dress code for their employees, which is why we see the artsy and fashionable kind wearing whatever they want to work. But before they landed that job, they had to temporarily ditch their ripped jeans, sneakers, and statement tees for a more appropriate business attire during the interview.

Kate Alvarez

A former full-time magazine and newspaper editor, Kate now juggles a career in writing, modeling and acting. She is also an advocate of animal rights and mental health awareness. Check out her blogs, Kate Was Here and Retro Prints, as well as her beauty articles in BDJ Box.


Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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