Exposed: women’s dress code secrets

You’ve sent out resumes and cover letters, and now you’ve got the interview. Your resume was clean and crisp, references impeccable and a long list of experiences showing you deserve the job. But now comes the real test — the interview.

Recruiter, CEO and blogger at, Beth Gilfeather, has a lot of experience preparing herself, and helping others to feel comfortable on the day of the interview. Follow Beth’s tips to make sure you can dress for success on the big day.

Comfort is key to feeling confident at any event, and Beth warns that there are some very large no-no’s that all women should steer clear of at a job interview.

Well, let’s start bottoms up.

No sandals. “No one wants to look at your toes,” Gilfeather said.

No white socks with a business suit and no worn out shoes.

“Get a shoeshine for Pete’s sake and make an effort,” Gilfeather said.

No bare legs. Gilfeather asks us ladies to put on a pair of stockings.

No long dresses or skirts. Of course they’re nice and comfy and pretty, but “they are not business appropriate.”

No clothing that is too tight. Having the ability to breathe during an interview is always a good thing.

No elaborate jewelry. “You may like it, but it’s just plain gaudy to the rest of us,” Gilfeather said.

No oversized handbags or tote bags. Go for a small purse. “Don’t advertise your baggage,” Gilfeather said.

You’ve got the don’ts down pat, but each business is different. How can you tell if this is an interview where your favorite pantsuit is needed, or just a blouse? We all know there’s a big difference between business, business casual, and, well, just casual.

Gilfeather suggests doing some research beforehand, or just asking.

If you go through a recruiter or hiring manager, “Definitely ask about dress attire,” she said. “Try to ask the recruiter or hiring manager an open-ended question about what to wear, such as, ‘I’d like to make sure I’m not over- or under dressed for the meeting. What would you recommend?’ Asking open-ended questions will help you to get more of an answer than a simple ‘Should I wear this?’ ” warranting a yes or no answer giving you no more direction than you started with.

Well, what if the company you’re interviewing for rolls out of bed and into work? “Never go lower than business casual,” Gilfeather said. “I don’t care if they are wearing Metallica T-shirts and ripped jeans.” Dressing in such a casual way can leave you seeming “cocky” or “apathetic.” This is still an interview, and you definitely want to look your best.

We might scoff at the men and think they have it so easy — a suit and the works done. And even though female business-style has changed and we have so many options, a common mistake women make is wearing something that “makes them look like less of a businessperson,” Gilfeather said.

“Interviewing for a business analyst or software engineering position? Then don’t dress like you are going to a tea party, dance club or the supermarket.”

So you know the rules. Now, where to find the raw materials?

“You can get a great interview outfit at Saks Fifth Avenue just as easily as you can at Target. Just use your head and make wise decisions!” Gilfeather recommended.