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Nina Garcia's LOOK BOOKWHAT TO WEAR FOR EVERY OCCASION
By Nina Garcia
HyperionCopyright © 2010 Nina Garcia
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePower Chic
What to Wear to a Job Interview
There is no better way to start the Look Book than with the question we've all asked ourselves: What should I wear to a job interview? This, along with first dates, which we will, of course, explore later, is the mother of all first impressions, a minuscule slice of time when a potential employer gets a peek at your essence. Especially now, when competition is fierce and the stakes are higher, it is critical that you consider not only what you will say to impress your interviewer and sell yourself, but also how you will look the minute you walk into that office. Who will the employer see? How will that make her feel about you as a colleague? The smallest detail can set you apart from your competition. It's essential that you appear professional, capable, and confident without going overboard. Extremes of any kind are an absolute no-no. Your wardrobe should complement your skill set, never detract (or distract) from your assets. You want your ensemble to say, "I have good judgment, I am extremely competent, I am socially adept, and you are a true visionary if you choose to hire me."
It's a tall order to live up to, but I have faith in you.
Today's suit has so many options and variations that it never has to be stuffy or boring. In fact, a suit can be quite glamorous while still maintaining its business edge. I can't stress enough the importance of keeping your look relevant; fashion is cyclical and you've got to be aware of trends without becoming a slave to them. A suit says that you are serious, that you take the position seriously, and that you know how to make a great impression. A streamlined silhouette conveys structure and organization, two characteristics that your potential employers will surely seek in a candidate. A woman who walks into a room wearing a chic, modern take on the classic suit is immediately in the game.
Even in the middle of summer, a jacket is a must to pull your outfit together. A jacket says poise and maturity, and it conveys the professional energy that you should radiate when you walk into that room. And, if you're anything like the rest of humanity, you perspire under pressure, so the more layers between your skin and the rest of the world, the better. A jacket may feel uncomfortable, but it looks cool, calm, and collected.
When striving to make a great business impression, you want everyone to focus on what you're saying without being distracted by what you're wearing. Avoid too many bright colors and bold patterns. Mind you, judiciously incorporating color or pattern into a slick outfit will get you noticed in the right way. If you opt for neutrals (navy, brown, gray, and the ubiquitous black), add a colorful belt or patterned tights. Or, wear a smart jacket with a bold pattern such as a hound's-tooth check or a frothy blouse in a vibrant hue, but keep the rest of your ensemble neutral.
When I'm interviewing a prospective employee, I appreciate an eye-catching touch of flair. It's refreshing to see a woman who can artfully weave her individuality into an otherwise safe ensemble. But use your flair tactfully; always take a second and third look at yourself right before you walk out that door. I work in the fashion industry, where flair done right is always appropriate, but never forget your audience; be extremely sensitive to what sort of attire is appropriate for the job you are seeking.
It's unbelievably difficult to muster up sufficient enthusiasm to impress anyone when your current job situation makes you want to go home and watch hours of bad sitcoms or drink yourself into a comfortable stupor. So it's vital that you take care of yourself and keep a positive attitude during this process. Use the negative energy of your current situation as the starting point for your strategy to change it. And make sure to look fabulous doing it.
Other than what to wear, the job interview question I'm asked most often is, "What do you look for in an applicant?"
I look for someone who takes herself seriously without being overbearing or pushy. A woman who can think on her feet and come up with creative solutions, and someone who seems like she would be pleasant to work with in addition to being highly skilled. If a prospective employee seems uncomfortable or stiff in her clothes, she may be stiff and uncomfortable every day-not an appealing prospect. Your clothing is like a protective suit of armor-wear everything as if it were custom-made for you, as if you were born in it.
Practice your interview style with friends, get comfortable answering questions on a number of topics, and always research the company you are applying to. I love it when an interview feels like a conversation rather than an interrogation, and when the person I'm speaking with is really listening to what I say before she responds. Know your weaknesses but paint them in a positive light and don't be afraid to list your strengths. You are your own best advocate: too many women forget this. Also remember that you won't click with everyone: it's best to figure that out up front. You just may dodge a bullet if the position/employer combo is not the best fit for you. Success is just around the corner. Believe this, act on this, and it will be.
WHAT'S in YOUR bag?
So many women don't pay enough attention to the handbag they carry to a job interview. Details, girls! Your bag should go with your ensemble without being too matchy-matchy, and it should be very, very neat. Nothing makes a bad impression like having to search through a jumble of lipsticks, used tissues, breath mints, and God knows what else when you're looking for a pen. Be prepared and efficient. Do match the class of your bag to the level of the position you are seeking. If you are interviewing for a receptionist job, don't carry a Louis Vuitton Monogram. Never upstage the boss.
A LIGHTER SHADE OF PALE
When in doubt, these chic hues are guaranteed to work together in perfect harmony.
Navy Black Brown Navy Loden Gray Gray Aubergine Camel Ivory
JOB INTERVIEW STYLE DONT'S
DON'T WEAR FUR. It can be controversial; not to mention it's a little over the top for a job interview.
DON'T WEAR LOUD JEWELRY. The only kind of bling you should sport is something like a classic strand of pearls, a simple pendant on a delicate chain, or an equally minimal piece. Dazzle them with your wit and intelligence, not your baubles.
DON'T WEAR HEAVY MAKEUP. Your look should be sweatproof and showcase your beautiful features.
DON'T WEAR SHINY FABRICS. Unless perfectly executed, they come off as cheap and too informal.
NO CLEAVAGE, NO GAPPING BETWEEN BUTTONS, NOTHING SEE-THROUGH. You're a girl that works. Not a working girl.
NO WILD PATTERNS, AND KEEP RUFFLES AND EMBELLISHMENTS TO A MINIMUM. Too much pageantry at the first interview is too distracting. Simple and streamlined keeps the focus on you and your skills.
JOB INTERVIEW STYLE DO'S
You can only make one first impression, so make it your best. Be well groomed, pressed, and with not a hair out of place.
DO WEAR A WATCH. A classic men's watch is not only functional but one of my favorite accessories for an all-business look. Your future boss will see that you've beautifully integrated punctuality into your style arsenal. And punctuality is a must.
A MANICURE IS ESSENTIAL. Hands are so expressive; they cannot be overlooked. Keep your nail color chic and understated; avoid long acrylics and bright polish.
DO SPIT OUT YOUR GUM. Fresh breath is a must, but no one looks good chewing on a wad of gum.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research the company and be prepared to think on your feet. Knowledge is power and Google is your friend here.
EXPRESS YOUR PASSION FOR THE JOB AND RADIATE ORGANIZATION. Passion and organization are an unstoppable combination.
rules are made to be broken
Never wear black with brown or navy.
Rubbish. Black with brown, navy, or gray is a thoroughly modern twist on classic dressing.
rule breakers we love
Quenn Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I personified the concept of dressing to impress. Her extravagant style influenced men and women throughout England and beyond, and intimidated her opponents. She lived by the philosophy that "more is more" and in so doing, created an empire. She's the ultimate can-do woman.
Start Strong What to Wear on the First Day of Work
The details are not the details. They make the design. CHARLES EAMES
You did it. You landed the job. You have spent the night before this first day sleepless-excited and nervous about what this new position will bring, fantasizing about the possibilities for you and your future. The sky's the limit. But when the morning dawns, the outfits you thought about wearing don't seem right anymore, panic sets in, and that bright future you dreamed of is suddenly dark and stormy. The questions begin all over again: Should you wear the skirt or the pants? Are the heels you've planned on just too high? Is your statement piece making too much of a statement? I mean, unless you're attending the art opening of a Rhode Island School of Design student, is electric blue velour really ever appropriate for anything? Breathe. Get it together. You've got some quick planning to do.
The key word on your first day at a new job is DETAILS. You are the sum of all your details, the nuances that make you unique. Expect to be scrutinized by just about everyone during the first week or two. Nothing jolts energy into a work environment like the new girl. And how she is received will he shaped by the impression she makes at first glance.
Presumably you got a look at what the others generally wear when you first came in for your interview. For at least the first week amp the formality of your attire up a notch, gut just a notch. It's essential to strike that delicate balance between relatability with your peers and respect from your superiors. You want to look approachable yet interesting, and most important, you want to make your boss proud.
As always, I'm not telling you to completely suppress your own inimitable style (as if you could), but just to tailor it for the situation at hand. Let your flair emerge subtly on that first day. Your outfit should say, "'Hello, I'm the best candidate for this job. I have the experience, the people skills, and the savvy to take this company to the next level." It doesn't matter whether you are an administrative assistant or a vice president, your ensemble should project skill and efficiency. People love to put a label on everything, especially in the office, so it's important that your initial label is one you can live with. It's not easy to undo a good first impression, but it's nearly impossible to reverse a bad one.
Use what you wore to the job interview that landed you the position as a guide, and plan your first day from there.
Now that you have a good sense of what to wear on your first day of work, you should be able to sleep more soundly the night before. After all. wardrobe aside, sleep and rest are indispensable to keep your mind sharp and your creativity flowing for that first day.
THE coif THE face
A blow-dry is a must. Nothing compares to the polish and shine of properly blown out hair. It's the perfect finish to every outfit, so learn how to do it like a pro. Your hair shouldn't hide your face. Brush those sexy long bangs to the side.
Natural, neutral makeup is perfect for the office. No bright blue eye shadow and no glitter. Glow subtly, and leave the shimmer to after-hours and weekends. Finish your look off with rosy lipstick; it does wonders for your complexion in the harsh fluorescent lighting of most work environments.
PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD
How to become indispensable and upwardly mobile in the office-and in life:
Anticipate problems and solve them resourcefully. Your initiative won't go unnoticed.
Always say "Yes" to a challenge and give it your best effort.
Never mix work and romance. I know it's tempting, but office romances are distracting and they rarely end well.
Never make the same mistake twice.
Ask questions; never stop learning about your position and your company.
Always keep a notebook on hand to jot down notes. It'll pay off, believe me.
WHAT in YOUR bag?
Keep the bag simple and the contents neat. Do a weekly bag edit so you aren't always searching for your wallet in an endless abyss of receipts and business cards. Always bring your day planner, a pen or two, and mints. You never know what your boss might need at any given moment, so be prepared. Make sure the bag's size makes it easy to stow in a desk drawer.
WHAT YOU SHOULD WEAR
DRESS: Wear a frock that's professional but interesting. Look for unusual details like structured pleats or intricate seaming. A fabric with great texture, like cloque or bouclé, or a subtly unique pattern will intrigue and impress. Think Michael Kors with a hint of Christian Lacroix.
TROUSERS: Go for streamlined and modern trousers with clean lines.
SHIRT: There's something about a crisp, collared, white button-down shirt that makes us stand up a little straighter. A whimsical blouse with a little frill at the neck looks smashing under a structured jacket. The interplay between soft and crisp creates an unforgettable look.
JACKET: If you prefer to go the pants and jacket route, this is a great day to experiment with a different silhouette. You could wear a cropped, fitted jacket with strong, angular shoulders and high-waisted trousers or an oversize blazer with lean cigarette pants.
PUMPS OR BROGUES: Avoid stilettos or platforms unless you're absolutely they're appropriate for your office and that you can realistically spend an entire day wearing them. Go for something sleek and simple. Wedges are OK, but they can look casual or clunky with a suit, so choose wisely.
STOCKINGS: If you want to add a splash of color, this is the place to do it, but don't go too bright. You must look professional, and not like you're on leave from a stint with Cirque du Soleil.
ACCESSORIES: Simple, simple, simple. A small pendant or pearls. Wait until your second day to sport piles of lavalieres or a chunky statement piece. Don't wear anything that jingles or clanks.
rule breakers we love
Ms. magazine cofounder Gloria Steinem showed women everywhere that feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive concepts. She is smart, strong, and confident, and was sexy enough to famously go undercover for a story as a Playboy bunny in her quest to portray the state of women's rights. Her honey blond hair and oversized glasses became her trademark look. Create yours.
rules are made to be broken
It was unacceptable for women to wear pants on the floor in Congress until the nineties
I can't believe it took that long for Congress to join the rest of the country. Women can wear pants anywhere they please. With impeccable tailoring, few pieces command as much respect.
Excerpted from Nina Garcia's LOOK BOOK by Nina Garcia Copyright © 2010 by Nina Garcia. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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