"This sounds cliché, but I always tell people you really only get one chance to impress somebody," says Dave Swanson, manager of Moorman Clothiers.
And the saying holds true. Just as a polished cover letter introduces an experienced resume, pressed trousers can set the tone — and possibly the outcome — of a competitive job interview.
First consultations and meetings with a potential employer always require business professional attire, no matter how relaxed the desired position may be.
For women, this means a jacket and slacks or skirt set, paying attention to what fits and flatters the body. Men should stick to the conventional suit and tie combination.
"We tell young adults to stick to dark-colored suits," Swanson said. "That might be black and navy or gray and pinstripes. But avoid light, warm colors like tan or olive."
In addition to neutral colors, quality fabric is a staple of any refined wardrobe. Moorman Clothiers' suits are made from 100 percent wool, a year-round fabric that resists wrinkles. Though warmer months are fast approaching, "summer fabrics" such as cotton quickly lose their pressed shape, especially if driving or sitting before the interview.
An expert fitting may also be needed to ensure a professional look. Coat sleeves should cut at the wrist, and pants should sit comfortably on the hips.
Other tips to impress:
• Minimal accessories such as cuff links and belts help pull together a professional look. These pieces should coordinate with the rest of the suit and shoes.
• Add a splash of color or pattern in your necktie. "This is where guys can show their personalities," Swanson said.
• You've got the power suit down, so don't ruin your image with bed head or a disheveled five o'clock shadow. Clipped nails, clean hair and a smooth face also exude confidence and maturity.
If you are still unsure about interview and work-attire standards, it may be a good idea to contact the interviewer or human resources department to ask about company expectations. A general rule is that it is better to be overly preened and slick than underdressed — or undressed, for that matter.