So we've gone over the 6 things you think people don't notice (but they do), commuting fashion, and the different types of blazers - all good things to know for the business world. But I'd like to take a moment to help out all you ladies that draw blanks when they need to dress for a job interview.
But instead of going over every item that works, here are 5 things I see all the time, that in my unprofessional opinion, don't work.
I can't believe I even have to mention this - never, under any circumstances (I don't care if you're applying at a Fortune 500 company or McDonalds) wear denim to an interview. This including but not limited to: jeans, a denim jacket, a denim skirt, a chambray button-up, a chambray dress, etc. No. Denim.
You're probably thinking, "oh man Suzanne, you're such a square. I am so hip and cool, and I want to show that off in my interview". Yes, I am a square. I am also a square with a very good job and interview experience behind me. And I have been told after securing two different jobs that the outfit I wore helped secure that job. So if you heed one piece of advice from this article, be it this - no denim.
First of all, open-toed shoes are hardly ever appropriate to wear to an interview; the only exception I make for this is a very nice pair of peep-toed shoes in an interview with a very hip and urban company. But I usually err on the side of caution and don't wear open-toed shoes. And I especially don't wear sandals. Even if you paid $500 for a gorgeous pair of Louboutin sandals or whatever - sandals are too casual to ever be worn to a professional interview.
My very wise mother once told me, "always wear shoes with a heel to a business event; it announces your presence as someone not to be trifled with".
3. Anything that could possibly, in any universe, be called "revealing".
Everyone has different standards of what is "revealing". Some girls put on a tank top and jeans and that's about as crazy as it gets - others wear sequin bikinis and furry boots and feel completely comfortable. When it comes to an interview, you need to raise your standards - and this especially applies to all you ample-bosomed women. Do an extra button up, don't wear a low v-neck, and don't wear a loose-necked shirt that gapes away from your chest when you bend over to shake their hand.
4. Bangle bracelets.
Jewelry is one of the key components to creating a well put-together outfit. But there are certain pieces of jewelry that, while they look great, just aren't very practical in real life. Bangle bracelets are one of these things. The last thing you want is for your jingling jangling bangles to be distracting from what you have to say and what you're trying to convey about your personality and professionalism. What I mean is, they're loud and annoying. Don't wear them.
5. A skirt.
A lot of you will probably disagree with me when I suggest not wearing a skirt to an interview. The first reason is that a lot of people aren't quite sure on the appropriate length of a skirt (the answer for an interview is knee length or slightly shorter; your skirt should cover your thighs entirely when you're seated). The second reason is, I see a lot of women fidgeting with their skirt (smoothing it out, pulling it down, making sure it's not tucked anywhere it shouldn't be). But the biggest reason for me is that a skirt is overtly feminine.
Don't get me wrong - I love a skirt as much as the next girl, but there is a time and a place. But when I'm going into an interview, I am walking in confidently with a purposeful stride, a firm handshake, unwavering eye contact and a pair of freshly pressed slacks that show them I mean business.
Take these pointers with a grain of salt, of course - maybe you will walk into an interview tomorrow with a short denim skirt, a low-cut t-shirt, bangle bracelets and flat sandals, and score a CEO job for a Fortune 500 company. Feel free to prove me wrong.
And now, some interview inspiration:
I've never been one for fancy workout gear - I usually just work out in an old soccer t-shirt and some black spandex capris I got for $15. Classy, I know. But all of that may have changed. Because on Wednesday, I got invited to the opening of the new Reebok FitHub in Crossiron Mills, with a small shopping spree included. I am now completely swagged out.
I scored some great additions to my workout wardrobe like new thermal running pants, an ultrasoft long-sleeve running shirt and a floppy striped toque. But my favourite purchase of the evening: these ultracool leather look low tops.
Turns out, you can be fashionable when you're working out as well. Who knew!
In this day and age, I find it incredibly unfortunate and upsetting that men's magazines and websites are focused on awesome articles like "How To Survive A Bear Attack", "9 Ways To Start A Fire Without Matches", "Unarmed Self Defense", and "The Power of Personal Influence".
Meanwhile, women's magazines like Cosmo (possibly the most detrimental magazine to womankind) focus on absolutely inane articles like "How To Lose Five Pounds In Five Days", "When You're The Last One To Know: Your Boyfriend Is Hotter Than You", "Yes, Butt Glue Is A Thing", and "The Va-J-J Visor - A Tiny Hat For Your Vagina" (the sad thing is, I did not make these up).
Throw away those garbage "girl" magazines, because they will do nothing for you. Secondly, learn how to be a self-sufficient, independent, bad-ass bitch who doesn't need a man to kill her spiders, fix her leaky tap, or check her oil. Read up and suit up, ladies.
1. Give a Stiff Roger handshake.
I can't believe I even have to list this on here, but it's completely necessary. You MUST know how to give a good handshake. It's one of the first impressions you give someone, and it perfectly describes how you feel about yourself and how seriously you want to be taken. No floppy fishes! No dainty finger-shakes! You grab their hand with initiative and you shake it firmly and you make eye contact and you show them that you are not a woman to be trifled with.
Read: 10 Tips On How To Shake Hands With Confidence
2. Cook a good steak.
Steak is great. Meat is great. And there is absolutely no reason that a good steak should be a Man's Meal. If you like steak, you need to learn how to cook a good steak to the degree that you like, whether that be blue rare or medium well. Know that if it's a good cut of meat, you don't need to mess up the taste with tons of sauces and marinades and spices. Know that if you're trying to flip it during cooking and it's still sticking, it's not ready to be flipped yet. Know how long it takes to cook without becoming overdone. And know you should let it settle for 8-10 minutes before you cut it, so you don't lose all the juices.
Trust me, this is a skill that almost every single person in the world will appreciate!
Read: How To Cook The Perfect Steak
3. Change your oil. Bonus points: change your tires.
If you own a car, there are no excuses - you should be able to do basic maintenance. This includes knowing how to check your oil, fill up your windshield washer fluid, check your tire treads, and fill up your tires if necessary. Bonus points if you've learned how to jack up your car, change your tires, and jump start a dead battery. These are the skills that will not only save you money, but definitely save your ass if you're ever stranded without a handy dandy mechanic in your passenger seat.
Read: A Beginner's Guide to Car Maintenance
Read: Top 10 Car Maintenance Checklist
4. Turn down a man without using the cop-out lines "I have a boyfriend" or "I'm a lesbian".
At one point or another, you will have a man who is interested in you who wants to get all up in your business. You're dropping subtle hints that you're not interested, but gosh darnit, he just won't get the hint! Fact: Men are idiots. Those oh-so-subtle hints that you're dropping just to be polite are going right over their heads. But you're not doing anyone any favours by giving the cliche, cop-out lines of "I'm gay" or "I have a boyfriend" (when you don't).
Maybe you're not interested, but you need to be that confident lady that gives it to them straight up. The "I'm gay" line backfires too easily when he sees you making out with his friend later, and makes him think you're too much of a coward to tell him the truth: that you're just Not Interested. The "I have a boyfriend" line also backfires easily, when he finds out you DON'T have a boyfriend (imagine that) or gives him the idea that if you didn't have a boyfriend, you might be interested.
Stand up straight and tell him the truth. You're incredibly flattered, but you're just not interested in him that way. Boom. Done. The end.
Read: How To Politely Turn Down A Guy
Read: How To Say "I'm Not Interested" Without Being Mean
5. Be assertive and stand up for yourself.
If someone is sassing you, you need to be confident enough to stand up for yourself and know that it's not okay to be treated that way. If someone is making you feel crappy, talking poorly or untruthfully about you, or just being a plain ol' asshole - stand up for yourself! Don't be a doormat. But that doesn't mean being a jerk about it. Dr. Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Just Don't Get It: 99 Ways To Win The Respect You Deserve, The Success You've Earned, And The Life You Want (longest title ever, but at least you know what you're getting), says:
"One great way is to practice the technique of "contrasting" when delivering difficult messages. It enables a woman to say what she does want and doesn't want without being too strident or demanding. It sounds like this, "I don't want you to think I'm not grateful for all that you've done for me because I am. At the same time, we agreed that you would provide additional services for that price and I didn't receive them so I'd like to discuss when you will be delivering those." Another is to use "inclusive" taglines after you give a strong opinion. For example, "You can hear I feel strongly about this but I'd also like to hear what you think so that we can get all of the best ideas on the table and move forward." At its core, assertiveness is about expressing yourself clearly while showing concern for others. Do that and you won't wander into aggressive territory."
Werd, Dr. Frankel. You said it. This also applies to social situations and confrontations with jerks.
Read: How To Quit Worrying About Being Bitchy And Assert Yourself
Read: How To Stand Up For Yourself Without Being A Bitch
6. Be spider-savvy.
You're at home alone, or you've just moved out into your first apartment and... gasp! What's that? A spider!!! Imagine that!!! What ever shall I do? A) Scream. B) Faint. C) Leave it alone and try not to imagine where it went now that you can't see it anymore. D) Kill it.
Spiders are scary and all that, blah blah blah. They have many legs and move fast and have lots of eyes, blah blah blah. But don't be that girl that calls her neighbor over to her apartment to kill her spiders for her, or drags her boyfriend out of bed with a bloodcurdling scream. Take a paper towel, put it over top, clamp it down, and immediately flush it down the toilet. Done deal. It'll be quick and painless for you, and you'll feel way better about yourself than if you leave it alone and it crawls in your mouth later. Just kidding! Sort of.
7. Know how to throw a proper punch. Bonus points: Full self-defense knowledge.
I realize that not all of you grew up with an older brother. I was lucky enough to have one, and he taught me how to punch properly. This is a crucial life skill.
Rule 1: Your thumb permanently resides on the outside of your hand, unless you want to break it.
Rule 2: Punch with the knuckles, not the flat part of your fingers.
Rule 3: Keep your wrist straight.
Rule 4: Stagger your feet front to back, shoulder width apart, with your dominant arm at the back. This means that if you're right handed, you should be staggered so that your left leg/arm is in front. This will allow you to swing your right arm forward and gain force.
Your whole body goes into a punch - it's not just your arm. If you didn't know that, you seriously need to watch these self-defense videos.
Watch: How To Punch Correctly
Watch: How To Use Your Iphone As A Weapon
Watch: What To Do If The Assailant Grabs Your Hair
Watch: How To Redirect A Punch
8. Conquer your self-esteem issues.
I get it, I get it. We all have issues - our thighs don't have a gap between them, our tummies aren't perfectly flat and toned, we struggle in certain classes, we're messy, we chew our nails. The best thing you can do for yourself, especially in your days of young adulthood, is learn to conquer your self-esteem issues. Life is too short to hate yourself. Sit down with a cup of tea one day, and write down everything you are unhappy with. Been thinking about losing those 15 pounds for a few years? Sign up for a local boot camp or a spin class. Don't like your sense of style? Look through Pinterest for outfits you like, and start building yourself a personal style that flatters you. Wish you were more knowledgeable about certain topics? Pick up a few books from your local library.
In the end, it is only you that is responsible for your personal happiness, and it's only you that will suffer if you don't do anything about it. Step up, take responsibility for yourself, and strive to be the fabulous and confident woman you always wanted to be. As Kate Nash said, "Wake up every morning and tell yourself that you’re a badass bitch from hell and that no one can fuck with you, and then don’t let anybody fuck with you."
Read: Self Confidence In 5 Days
Read: The Real Meaning Of A Badass Bitch
9. Manage your finances.
I know that managing your finances can seem incredibly daunting. TFSA? RRSP? RESP? It's full of acronyms and things that are short for other things! God forbid! But seriously, trust me when I say that knowing and understanding basic financial skills will benefit you more than you know. Having an emergency fund, starting an RRSP in your 20's, knowing the difference between stocks and GIC's, and exercising self control will set you up for your future, and also help you feel better about your present. One incredibly, incredibly useful tool to add to your belt is the app/website, Mint. Download that, set up your monthly budgets, and stick to them!!
Read: 8 Financial Tips For Young Adults
Read: Top 10 Financial Mistakes Young People Make
Read: 10 Smart Ways To Improve Your Budget
10. Know your basic tools and be able to use them.
I get it, I get it - tools are, like, so manly. Why learn tools and how to use them if you could just call up a good-looking man to do it for you? NOT! Learn your tools, ladies. Be self-sufficient and be able to assemble furniture, hang photos, fill holes in the wall, tighten loose chairs or tables, and fix a leaky faucet. Know the difference between a Phillips and a Frearson screwdriver, between a ball-peen and claw hammer, and the difference between pliers and a wrench. You can thank me later, when your leaky kitchen tap is driving you slowly to the brink of madness.
And you don't need those damn pink sparkly tools, neither.
Read: 20 Tools Every Homeowner Should Have
Read: 5 Home Repairs You Should Really Know How To Do Yourself
Now go, fellow women! Be independent bad-ass bitches! Go fix that faucet, check your oil, set up a monthly budget, and reward yourself with a nice steak done medium rare.
Take yourself out to eat.
Don’t share your popcorn at the movies with anyone.
Stroll around an art museum alone.
Fall in love with canvases.
Fall in love with yourself."
When you meet someone for the first time, what do you notice? Usually you notice the general outfit, and then you start noticing the little details. It's these little details that can make or break your appearance... and your impression. So don't slack on the small things.
1. your shoes.
When I see someone on the street or meet someone for the first time, one of the first things I look at is their shoes. And don't lie, you do too! Shoes are an important, important, important finishing touch on your outfit. A stunning pantsuit can be ruined with square-toed, scuffed-up high heels from 1995, just as easily as a pair of jeans and a casual blazer can be immediately dressed up with a good pair of wedges or pumps. The moral of the story is, shoes can make or break your outfit & your entire first impression on someone. So put thought into what you put on your feet!
2. your hands.
When you shake someone's hand (even if you don't mean to), you notice the softness, the clamminess, the roughness, or the cleanliness of their hands. This means your hands are... fill in the blank... important! Before you go to meet someone, whether it's dinner with friends, a date, or a job interview, take a peek at your paws. Dirty fingernails, huge calluses, hangnails, chipped nail polish? Fix it. People notice.
3. your sleeve length.
If your sleeves pass your wrist, they are too long. If they are so short you can see your watch without lifting your sleeve, they are too short. If you buy a blazer that fits you perfectly except for the sleeves, it's crucial that you get them tailored. Another option that I utilize frequently is rolling them up to create a 3/4 sleeve blazer. Works every time!
4. your see-through shirt.
White blouse with a black bra? Yep, people notice. White blouse with a lacey pink & purple floral bra? Yep, believe it or not, people notice that too. If you look in the mirror and you can see what bra you're wearing or can see any tattoos you have underneath, everyone else can see it too. This is where a flesh-coloured tank top comes in very handy.
5. your panty lines.
Remember a while ago I wrote about the importance of undergarments? Read it through again. It is still too often that I see a woman wearing beige dress pants with no back pockets, with regular full-backed underwear. News flash. WE CAN SEE IT. Do us all a favour and check out your outfit from all angles before you leave the house.
6. the hair elastic on your wrist.
I know, ladies, it's just oh-so-convenient to wear a hair elastic on your wrist. HOWEVER, that's why purses were invented - to carry the crap we need that isn't attractive enough to wear on our person. Unless you put up and take down your hair every 30 seconds, take it off your wrist and put it in your purse. It is just as convenient, and a lot better looking.
But really, guys. Who doesn't love a good floral in spring? The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the rain is pouring. Time to pack away the oversized sweaters, the blacks and greys, and the leather boots, and whip out the bold prints and bright colours.
But Suzanne, you say! Florals are too girly, you say! Florals are hard to wear, you say! Balderdash. Don't be afraid of florals. Here are a few tips & tricks to conquer your flora-phobia.
1 / pick a floral that suits your style.
Just like any other pattern, florals come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of boldness. If you're going for a more subtle look, choose a small floral that is simple in colour and contrast. If you're looking to make an impact, go for a large, colourful print that will catch the eye. And make sure you choose a floral that coordinates with the rest of your wardrobe.
2 / choose a modern cut & pattern.
Too often, the potential beauty of florals is ruined with cheap-looking, poorly cut tops with large, tacky flowers. If you're going to do a floral, do it right - in a modern cut and floral type . And while florals usually look best in a silky, flowing material, always stay far away from polyester.
Bad floral. Good floral.
3 / dress in the same palette.
I know, florals can be intimidating to wear because what the heck do you wear with them? It's actually not as hard as it seems. You'll never go wrong with this equation:
(something floral) + (something neutral but textured) + (something neutral).
If you want to move past the neutrals and bump it up to the next level, pick one colour out of your floral and add that back into your outfit.
If you will notice in both figures above, they have picked up one colour from their floral and introduced them into their outfits. This is called successful floralization.
4 / keep it simple.
When it doubt, keep it simple. Don't overcrowd your florals with other patterns, tons of colour, or tons of accessories. Florals speak for themselves - they're a statement piece! Don't make them fight for attention. Play them up with neutrals and just a few other small but bold accents.