Barron image consulting


A Winning Wardrobe for Job Seekers

by Cindy Barron, Owner of Barron Image Consulting, Austin, Texas

Having founded an award-winning court reporting firm in Central Texas and working with attorneys and other professionals for 25 years, to now being a professional image consultant, I’ve observed and consulted on what a Winning Wardrobe for Job Seekers really boils down to.  We make it so hard to get it just right, when it’s really very simple.   

Let me tell you a personal story.  Having spent all my money on court reporting school, I only had a few T-shirts and a couple pairs of jeans in my closet.  How in the world was I going to make this wardrobe work in my job-seeking efforts, when not one thread of it was appropriate professional dress for interviewing? 

What I decided to do was to buy one well-fitting, neutral-colored suit, such as black, dark blue, dark gray, red, or khaki, and a pair of high-quality leather shoes.  (If I were a man, only black, dark blue, dark gray and khaki would have worked.)  Well, I chose a beautiful dark blue suit that made me look like a million bucks, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.  Since I wouldn’t be going to the same place for interviews nor depositions from day to day, I wore that same suit every single day of the week for quite a few weeks.   It turned out to be the best business investment I’ve ever made.  

Since I’d invested in such a neutral-colored suit, all I had to do was buy a few blouses that were very different from each other as well as a few varying accessories, and I looked like I had on a completely new outfit every single day.  Being on a tight budget helped me create an interesting wardrobe with very few pieces, and no one realized I was wearing the same suit.  Making sure that my shoes were always shined up and in tip-top shape was also of utmost importance. 

Little did I know that by sharing this story with the many court reporters and staff members I’ve hired over the years and now with my image consulting clients, I would help each one of them in not only saving money, space and time, but looking their professional best every day of the week. 

Speaking of looking your professional best, personal hygiene and grooming is also an important aspect a job seeker’s “wardrobe.”  For men and women, this means being super-clean from head to toe, hair fixed and no roots showing, nails freshly manicured, and all tattoos covered. 

More specifically, for women, it means a freshly made-up face and light nail polish.  You don’t need to go overboard, but do wear foundation, blush, eye makeup and some lipstick.  Research shows that women who wear makeup earn 20% more than women who don’t wear makeup.  The message it sends is that we pay attention to detail and care enough to prepare for the interview, the day, or whatever lies ahead of us.   

For men, it means being clean-shaven, with no facial hair. It also means making sure that no nose or ear hair is showing and eyebrows are trimmed.   

Men should limit their jewelry to a metallic or leather watchband and a wedding ring.  Jewelry for women should be kept conservative.  For example, earrings without movement, one simple bracelet that doesn’t make any noise, a ring on your ring fingers only, and a simple necklace.  Your clothing and accessories should not distract from you and what you want to convey to the interviewer.   

There is also a psychology of colors.  If you’re looking for a job where you will be in an authoritative position, wear darker colors.  If you’re interviewing for a job where you want to be more approachable to others, wear lighter colors. 

Take the time to find out the dress code for the companies you’re interviewing with and make sure to adhere to the most conservative choices in their dress code policy. 

Don’t we all feel better when we look good and feel good?  A Winning Wardrobe for Job Seekers is all about looking sharp and making the most of what you wear and how you wear it.  Your clothes are your silent but strongest partner.  In this current, highly competitive job market, men and women who are taking care of the details and looking their professional best are the ones who are retaining their jobs and being hired.    

Oh, and don’t forget your most important asset when you walk out the door, that beautiful smile of yours.  It opens all kinds of doors.

Want more image consulting tips?

Enter your email below to subscribe the Barron Image Consulting newsletter.


Image Tip of The Month

speaking image consulting tip
Staying current in your clothing and accessories can be accomplished on any budget. For this season, just add a pop of a bright color, such as yellow, orange, lime or hot pink, to your basic neutrals. Something as simple as a pin, belt, scarf, handbag or sunglasses in this season’s brightest colors can be added to your wardrobe for a few dollars and allow you to change the look of many different neutral-colored outfits, whether for business or pleasure.