What Not to Wear to a Job Interview or the Office

12/20/2017 09:19 am ET Updated Dec 21, 2017

Whether you have already been hired or are still going through the interview process, it is important to present yourself in the office environment appropriately. Your first impression goes a long way in determining how you will be remembered after the interview or first day. Taking time to put in thoughtful consideration and effort into your image could benefit you throughout your career. Here are some things to avoid when preparing to step into the office.

Strong Scents

Your perfume should not arrive before you do. The lingering scent of any kind of fragrance is not a good first or last impression. It comes across as if you have something to mask and can cause headaches to those around you. One client said an interviewee wore so much cologne she was nauseous by the end of the interview. The otherwise perfect candidate lost the job because of a simple, avoidable choice.

Plunging Necklines or Revealing Clothing

You may love the way your form fitting sweater hugs your great body, but too much of a good thing is not your goal. Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if you fit the corporate image of the company you are applying. Dressing in layers is a safe bet. If the weather is hot, you can remove your jacket at a meeting when everyone else is rolling up their sleeves.

Distracting Nails, Excessive Makeup and Loud Jewelry

For the job interview or office, understated is always a better choice. If your multiple bracelets are drowning out your verbal message, you may not be a good candidate for the job. Chipped, half polished or unkempt nails shows a lack of motivation and will alert your boss you may take care of the client in the same manner. Too much makeup is also a deterrent and appears as if you slept in it. Jewelry, makeup and nails should be carefully thought through before you walk through the office door.

Yoga Pants

The weather may be frigid and a great pair of leggings and boots with a chunky sweater is great for the weekend, but not for “casual Friday” when you may need to meet with a client. Comfort is not your first goal when you choose your clothing for the day. Stay professional, even in a relaxed work environment. Change into your workout gear at the gym or after hours, before you leave the office.

Strappy Sandals

You are applying for a job, not going dancing! You may think your high heels are fashion forward but if they look as if they belong on a date, rather than a staff meeting, reach for the mid heel pump instead. Avoid satin, sequins, multiple straps and zippers when choosing your work footwear.

Dress Up Not Down

Like it or not, one of the main ways you are judged is by the way you choose to present yourself to the world. The same holds true in the office. If you strive to dress your best, even when your colleagues are not giving it theirs, you will send the message of a true professional. It’s a subtle sign you take your job seriously and care about your appearance. Your boss will take note and so will your clients.

Look Around

Do your homework before your interview, a quick glance at the website may give you a good indication of the formality of the company. Establish a work clothes budget. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of conservative. After you get the job, you can review the corporate dress policy and observe how your boss and colleagues come to the office. While dress codes vary from one business to the other, some things will never become outdated: clean, well-groomed and a properly maintained image will guarantee you get noticed in the best possible light.

For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy reading Job Interview Tips: 7 Things Employers Notice. You can also visit Diane’s blog, connect with her here on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.

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