We got four professionals to let us know what these looks say to a potential employer.
Need help choosing your interview outfit? A recruiter, a startup founder, a life coach and a stylist lend their views on your looks to help you choose just the style for the job.
Written by Shai Rama
Creating a lasting impression when it comes to meeting potential employers for the first time is non-negotiable. When you’re sitting down in an office for an interview it’s essential that you look good, smell good and most importantly feel good. Once you’ve got a fresh cut at the barbers and you’ve rehearsed your elevator pitch, all that’s left is what you’re wearing, and naturally, you want to be dripping in confidence and making a statement. We’ve decided to get four professionals – a life coach, stylist, recruiter and seasoned startup founder – to talk about their favourite fits and what these looks say to a potential employer. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Let’s make sure it lasts.
The Life Coach
This look is a bit of a classic: the formal shirt combined with a pair of standout pants with some personality. A shirt is great because it can be dressed up or down simply by adding a tie. Throw in some accessories like a pair of sunglasses and some rings and you’ve got yourself a striking look that fits the ‘smart-casual’ aesthetic perfectly. These looks are easy to put together and are sure to impress any potential employer.
“This look is a bold, formal go-to that always works if you do. Check pants and a plain shirt is a combination for ambitious professionals who make sure to do things the right way. Deliberate, calm, and focused on the future.” — Sam Voigt, volunteer career guidance counsellor and life coach at 80,000 Hours, a nonprofit that specialises in the efficacy of career-based altruism.
I strongly believe that you can never be ‘overdressed’. After meeting someone, I’m already thinking about what their looks say about their personality, from their shoes to all the accessories they’re wearing. I love muted tones and layered looks, which makes this poloneck and coat combination a certified head-turner! The earthy tones and clean silhouette give this look an approachability, while still maintaining a rock-star vibe. Also, if we’re speaking first impressions, the navy blue suit is a cult classic. You can never go wrong with a suit. Finished off with formal sneakers? Magnifique.
“The cream pullovers act as canvasses, displaying the beautiful tones, textures and patterns of the brown blazer and grey coat. Well-constructed versatile selections, these looks deliver a refined style or more laid-back formal aesthetic.” — Maddy Williams, London-based model, stylist and makeup artist.
A navy blue suit allows you to level up no matter the occasion. The blue is serious but also gives off a friendly, more approachable energy when you’re meeting potential employers for the first time. The formal shirt look, whether it’s paired with patterned pants or jeans for a more casual interview, is a simple style that goes a long way.
“It’s hard to deny that there’s nothing more impressive than a suit – especially this one; guaranteed to wow the interview panel. The dark jeans with a navy blue shirt is the perfect smart casual outfit to set the stage to clinch that coveted new career role. Would definitely ditch the shades once inside though, as strong eye contact helps to make a connection and make your mark.” – Rachelle Bright, Founder of The Recruitment Company, a boutique agency specialising in sourcing and placing key personnel for companies throughout SA. .
The Startup Founder
When stepping into a room, there has to be an unwavering sense of self-assurance: that you’re the right man for the job. Dress in a way that you feel comfortable with an added touch of boldness so that you stand out from the crowd. This topcoat look stands out as it brings a sense of elegance to the table while still having a playfulness about it, thanks to the orange shirt. For colder days, the coat with a sweater and a beanie is a stylish look that’s easy on the eye and practical, too.
“This is a considered, measured individual. I can see the attention he has to detail, and the pride he would take in executing a job done well.” — Katie Barry, co-founder of meal-kit startup UCOOK and boutique copywriting agency Letterhead.
It doesn’t hurt being the best dressed at your next job interview. In fact, we recommend it! Now that you’ve heard from these four professionals on what looks they’d go for, get out there, find the fit that best suits your personality and let’s get that dream job of yours!