Dressing For the Job: Ladies Edition Pt.1

by | Oct 10, 2023


Dressing For the Job: (Don’ts)

I don’t want to reveal my age, but my teachers taught me that dressing for success helps you secure your desired job. When you receive an interview opportunity, you wear your best suit and present yourself in a manner that reflects the time you’ve spent preparing to make a great first impression on your potential employer.

However, times have changed, and it has become alarming how few people live by that example. We could say interviewees have different ideals they conform to, or we can even blame it on the lax nature of dealing with social responsibilities. Ultimately, it has not been very encouraging for me to conduct interviews with candidates whose first impression is that they didn’t care about their presentation. So, what does that translate to me – that they will put the same effort into the work that they do? Of course, there are instances when a person is down on their luck, and the clothing they wear to an interview is the best they have to choose from, which is understandable. However, options are available in times of need (we will address this in a future post).

As a female, I strive to encourage young women to do better than their predecessors. To make a mark in the world that will be lasting so that generations that follow will have role models to look up to who aren’t necessarily in the hip-hop industry and selling their bodies as opposed to their minds. A mind is terrible to waste; I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before. But a negative first impression is a wasted job opportunity, in many instances. So, let’s say a first impression is a terrible thing to waste.

Some major no-nos for women when having a face-to-face interview are as follows:

1. Sheer blouses or t-shirts that expose the color of your undergarments or cleavage:

I can’t count how many times I have sat across from a woman whose cleavage is the highlight of the interview. Revealing ample cleavage is distracting, and yes, it might be a pleasure for a male interviewer; it is unprofessional and will likely not get you a second interview or the job.

2. Leggings, jeans or skin-tight pants:

Leggings and skin-tight pants leave little to the imagination. But if you can only wear leggings, you must wear a blouse that covers the derriere. Jeans should never be an option as it shows that the interviewee didn’t have time to prepare for the interview and settled for whatever was convenient.

3. Knee-high boots or heels higher than 3 inches:

Image is everything. You’re either going to a party or an interview. If it’s the latter – heels under three inches should be the general rule, with black pumps or flats being ideal.

4. Sneakers:

Athletic shoes are a no-go, any way you look at it. The only exception, which would only be in extreme situations, is wearing all-black sneakers that aren’t flashy, have no detail, and don’t draw attention to them. For instance, Black Out Jordans wouldn’t work, but solid all-black Stan Smiths might slide as they are plain enough to blend in with one’s pantsuit.

5. Skirts that don’t pass the finger-tip test:

If you hold your arms to your sides and your skirt is shorter than your middle finger – don’t wear it.

6. Brightly colored clothing:

Brightly colored clothes aren’t professional and bring the wrong type of attention.

7. Face piercings (depending on the industry):

Unless you are looking for employment as a tattoo or piercing artist, the best practice would be to remove piercings/earrings before the interview. There are exceptions for faith-based piercings, such as nose piercings..

8. Exposed tattoos:

People should cover all tattoos, except in cases where the employment opportunity is within the tattoo industry, where they are allowed.

. Wrinkled clothing:

Wrinkled clothing reflects a need for more care. It shows you didn’t have time to be presentable for the person taking time out of their day to meet with you. Unless you wear linen, which wrinkles quickly, ensure you don’t doom your first impression with carelessness.

. Excessive perfume:

The general rule for perfume-wearing is less is best. You have to consider that some people suffer from allergies, and though your perfume may smell marvelous, it can create an allergic reaction for your interviewer. The best-case scenario is not to wear any perfume.

. Body Odor / Bad Breath:

I shake my head at this. If you have body odor or bad breath, and the interviewer unfortunately realizes it, consider your opportunity shot. Interviewers don’t want to think about possible Human Resource ramifications from your potential coworkers complaining of your odor. This policy includes cigarettes, marijuana, and any vape used before meeting with the interviewer. I once interviewed a woman who must have smoked a cigarette in her car while waiting for her interview. She interviewed exceptionally well, but we couldn’t ignore the candidate’s choice of wearing jeans and the noticeable cigarette odor when she entered the interview room.


In our discussion about dressing for success and making that vital first impression during job interviews, we’ve highlighted some major “no-nos” that can hinder your chances of landing your dream job. It’s crucial to remember that the impression you make is often the first step toward securing your desired role.

But don’t worry, we’re not just here to point out the “don’ts.” In our next post, we’ll cover the essential “do’s” to ensure you confidently and professionally step into that interview room.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll provide invaluable tips on what to wear and how to present yourself to make a memorable and positive impact on potential employers. Your journey toward career success is just beginning, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.


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