Dressing like a young professional

Resumé, check.

Coffee, check.

Outfit, yikes.

Time for your first job interview, and you don’t have anything to wear that wasn’t purchased at Urban Outfitters. And if you do, getting that coffee stain out will take forever.

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Sure, as an Emersonian you’re most likely up-to-date on all the latest runway trends, but do those really translate into acceptable interview and internship ensembles? How do you dress like a young professional?

Since most of us do not have Stacy London or Clinton Kelly, the hosts of What Not To Wear, on speed dial, the Beacon sound some guidelines.

“The first thing anyone should do is research the company,” said Jason Guttilla, president of the Emerson College Fashion Society. “That’s going to determine the dress code.”

Guttilla said the interview outfit should never be flashy. Shoot for conservative. His advice for Emerson guys interning in any of the college’s fields: slacks and a button down shirt with a tie. He also said to keep in mind that the color of the shoes, socks, and belt should match.

According to Guttilla, girls should stick with skirts or pantsuits, and opt for flats or low heels. Stockings or tights are a must; bare legs are a no-no. In addition, Guttilla advised wearing only a simple necklace and bracelet, and keeping the make-up light and natural.

“You want to impress them,” Guttilla said. It is important, though, to look like you belong. Ken Mattsson, an assistant director at Career Services, agreed. The outfit should reflect the job and the industry. “You want to be seen as one of them,” he said.

Mattsson also suggested dressing “one level more formal than the people” you’ll hopefully be working with. Ultimately, he said, you want their first impression of you to be that you look professional.

One way to ensure this is to remove anything distracting from your ensemble such as chunky or over-the-top accessories, and even perfume. “You don’t want anything that would distract the interviewer from what you have to offer,” Mattsson said.

This also applies to the amount of skin you show. Mattsson stated that many students often forget about this, and make the mistake of wearing things like fishnets and mini-skirts or low-cut tops to an internship fair or interview.

His suggestion is to find a way to show your creativity through your clothing that neither distracts nor shows too much skin. He said your ultimate goal is for the clothes to fade away and the interviewer to focus on your qualifications.

This doesn’t mean that professionalism has to be drab though. According to Guttilla, the best way to reflect your own style is through smaller pieces. He suggested personalizing with a tie or even bowtie for guys, and for ladies with the choice of shoe color and accessories.

If you’re completely lost, don’t lose hope. Some stores like Macy’s and Anthropologie have personal shoppers.

J.Crew offers complimentary personal shopping to customers with queries. Personal shopper AJ DiPirro at the store’s Boston location offered his expert advice for women: investing in a three-piece suit (jacket, skirt, and trouser).

This way, DiPirro said, you have versatility in your outfit choices to make many different ensembles. However, he did recommend wearing the jacket and trouser on the first interview, and saving the skirt for the more relaxed second interview.

Whether you plan to work in a firm, the newsroom, or behind the camera, the most important thing to remember is to look the part. Be professional and look like you belong, but keep a hint of you in there.