“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head
My dad was always a stickler about dressing for the appropriate occasion. There was a time he hand delivered my black slacks that I had forgotten with fresh army creases ironed in them for a pizza delivery job at Little Caesar’s. His shoes were always shiny and his socks always matched. All in all, even while living in small town America, my dad dressed the part of a successful businessman living in a bigger city. He tried to instill the old adage that appearance matters.
None of that really clicked until experiencing one unsuccessful interview after another; many of which were over before they ever began. When going into a job interview in Manhattan, if you get the once over glance from head to toe with an uneasy handshake and somewhat of a grimace, the interview is over. It is that pretentious; even for a job not related to fashion. It would be great if your work was amazing enough to speak for itself, however, that is not the case here. Your appearance matters, especially if you want anyone to take you seriously.
Tech Specs: ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/160 of a second.
Colorful clothes that are nice and would make a great impression in a different location do not bode well here. It doesn’t matter what label you are wearing. In a sea of black tossed in with neutrals as well as the approved deep wine and navy, vivid colors go against the grain and stick out like a sore thumb. Shoes are especially a dead giveaway. The lesson is to blend in. Study the surrounding stylings of passerbys and apply it to what would work for you.
So many New Yorkers are not from New York, and it would seem as if they have all forgotten this fact. Colorful clothing and anything that showcases a look that does not blend in is a red flag that screams “I am not from here.” The talent pool in this city is crazy and the competition is steep, and the one thing for certain is they want to work with the main players. Seeing as how New York is considered the big leagues and it is difficult enough to get started as it is, blending in (in the right way) is one step closer to landing a job.
Tech Specs: ISO 100, f/16, 1/160 of a second.
I finally caved and adopted the old adage of dressing for the job that I want in New York style. I landed an interview at a major artist management company and showed up looking incredible in all black and was luckily having a great hair day with some help of a dear friend, and a funny thing happened; I actually existed.
Normally, I am donning a fuchsia colored down coat, or a pair of slacks and a great colorful cardigan that should be eye catching, however, no one seemed to see me. In all black, people held the door open instead of letting it slam shut. In all black, I met my interviewer who gave the appropriate amount of attention and actually took me seriously. After carefully reviewing my portfolio and going over my work experience, It turned out I was overqualified for the position and my interviewer was nervous that I would be too bored. I was encouraged to send in my resume to forward to other people in the industry for potential work.
As ridiculous as it sounds, playing the game will help get a little farther with a lot less red tape. Looking the part and dressing like a local will immediately put any potential employer’s angst at ease, and dressing the part does not have to mean buying everything name brand. It is merely making a noticeable effort that goes a long way.