Sue Montgomery Potrait

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Does Dress for Success Always Mean Dressing Up?

Published by Sue Montgomery on

Dress for Success in Choosing What to Wear to the Interview

man-ball-cap_opt-150x150Remember when Mom made you put on your very best clothes to go to church? Now, casual clothing, even jeans, is considered acceptable church-going attire. Just as how you dress for this occasion has changed, so too has how you dress for job interviews. “Dress for success” has an all new meaning nowadays.

Part of coaching clients to maximize the positive impact of their interviews is covering dress code. I still believe that for the first interview, unless specifically asked to dress a certain way, men should wear a suit and tie and women should wear a suit, pantsuit, or dress with a jacket. But sometimes more casual choices are completely appropriate for the second and subsequent interviews with the same company.

An example of this is my client who followed my “dress for success” advice and wore a great-looking suit and tie for his first interview with a company he found particularly appealing. As Ken and the interviewer got more comfortable with each other and the conversation drifted more to the specific job, the interviewer mentioned, “Around here, we wear jeans and ball caps.” (Which was exactly what the interviewer was wearing.)

Before returning for the second interview (with the same man), Ken asked me if he should again “dress up” or if it would be okay to go in jeans, a tee shirt and a ball cap. I told him it sounded like jeans and a casual, button-up shirt would be okay. He would fit in well with the other employees and the overall environment of the company. Adding a tee shirt and ball cap, however, might be going a little far, possibly even make him look sloppy.

Ken followed the advice. The second interview went very well. He got to meet some of the team he would be working with. And he was offered (and accepted) the job. His first day there might be just the right time to add the tee shirt and ball cap!

Dress for success means adapting to the environment!

Sue Montgomery PotraitSue Montgomery is founder and president of Resume Plus ( She is a professional resume writer and career coach who markets people for the jobs they want. Contact Sue directly at 937-254-5627 or email