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Keeping it casual for creative careers: Fashion for the modern professional

“Hoodie and Jeans” (above)Daphnelly Delacruz | The Ticker“Ask Lily” (thumbnail)Kevin Valdez | The Ticker

“As someone who is pursuing a more creative field, what would be considered professional wear? I understand you probably wouldn’t wear full-on suit and tie, but would it be acceptable to show up to work or an interview in a hoodie and jeans?”

-Heather Shah

Dear Heather,

First of all, it does depend on the exact field. There is a difference between what employees wear in the creative writing field versus the fashion field. Both are very creative, but  if you were going into fashion, it would be expected that you are fashionable. Therefore a hoodie and jeans probably wouldn’t be the best bet.

On that note, regardless of the field, you should always try to look professional for an interview. Yes, you can decide what exactly “professional” means to the company you are interviewing for, but you should still always strive to make a good impression.

Do not show up to any interview in a hoodie and jeans. It doesn’t matter if that company is a “hoodie and jeans” kind of company; there is never anything wrong with looking more professional than necessary for an interview.

It’s better to be overdressed than to not get the job because you looked like a slob.

I am not sure what creative field you are going into, but if it is anything regarding fashion or a popular company with a hip or young culture like BuzzFeed or Instagram, the dress code is much more casual while still maintaining a professional air.

I would strongly suggest showing up to an interview in a professional outfit — I don’t mean a suit and tie, but nice pants and a blouse at least — and while you’re there, you should scope out the atmosphere.

See what other people are wearing in the office. When you get home, write down the company name and what you saw. That way, if you do get the job, you know what to wear in which office.

Maybe you interviewed at Google and everyone was wearing a hoodie and jeans. Or maybe you interviewed at Refinery29 and people were stylish and polished. These notes will help you remember which company has what culture and will help you avoid overdressing or underdressing the next time you’re there.

I mentioned Google as a place where people might wear hoodies and jeans; oftentimes technology companies tend to have more casual dress codes.

So, I’ve talked a lot about what you should do when you’re unsure of what to wear, but once you figure that out, what do you wear?

This is the fun part. If you notice that the company has a relatively casual dress code, keep the jeans, swap out the hoodie for a nice sweater and add a pair of boots — heeled or not, depending on your preference.

One thing to keep in mind with heels, though, is that not only do they elevate you and dress up almost any casual outfit, but they also elevate your self-confidence.

But if heels aren’t for you, no worries! Consider a cute pair of ballet flats, mules or flat boots. Remember that there are also many pants options that are just as comfortable as jeans — culottes are loose and oh-so-comfy — while still not as fancy as dress pants. Be creative, be appropriate and have fun with accessories!

Remember, you can never be too careful with your work outfits, especially for interviews.

Show up professionally dressed, scope it out and take notes. And as they always say, “Dress for the job you want.”

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