Even if it is just a restaurant or thrift store in which you are applying for, showing up in casual street clothes is always a no-no. Selecting the appropriate and classy career apparel could make or break your chances of getting the job.
The first thing you should do is analyze the atmosphere of the company that you're applying to. Is it a laid-back atmosphere? Are there a lot of cleaning duties or stocking tasks involved? Or, is it a high-class establishment where employees are consistently dressed in Sunday best career apparel? Do some investigating by popping in one day to observe what other employees are wearing. Talk to former employees about the expectations of the business's supervisor.
If you are applying for a position with a big-league business (such as a bank, high-class retail store, investment company, etc.), wear nothing short than high-class polished career apparel. Even if you are in your 20s, dressing as if you are 10 years older will give you a mature and professional air.
For women's career apparel, you might choose to wear a white button-down blouse, a long black skirt or dress pants, panty hose and black flat shoes. This may be a far cry from your usual clothing, but remember, you are trying to present your best professional image--not your personal tastes.
If you wear contacts, put your glasses on. Your hair should be tied back in a bun or tightly-secured pony tail. Make-up should be minimal, wearing no bright eye shadow or lipstick. Career apparel is all about looking smart and sophisticated, and being able to pull it off.
For men, depending on the company's reputation, a nice knit sweater with a collared shirt underneath might suffice for career apparel for the interview. If not, stick to the traditional pin-striped button-down shirt with a solid tie and khaki or black dress pants. No tennis shoes! Try loafers or polished dress shoes.
If you are interviewing for a more relaxed establishment (like a pet store, newspaper delivery or fast-food restaurant) or for a physical labor job, dressing in black tie career apparel may be a bit over the top. Instead opt for comfortable career apparel- within reason. Wearing blue jeans is an interview taboo. Go for casual tan corduroy or cotton pants and a long-sleeved knit top. Keep it simple, but make sure you appear clean-cut, well put together and polished. For women, add a pair of small gold earrings. For men, flourish with a nice wrist watch.
While career apparel is important in impressing your prospective boss, be sure to adlib extras that will make your face memorable: smile a lot, speak clearly and concisely, be knowledgeable about the expected work duties, and above all, be courteous and polite.