When it’s just another day in the office, it’s easy to have a “no one’s going to notice what I’m wearing, anyway” kind of attitude. And so, every once in a while, you can get away with bright blue nail polish or pants that drag on the ground just a little.
But if you’re trying to make a good impression, whether you have an interview, a big presentation, or lunch with the boss, you want to look your absolute best. And besides throwing on a suit and heels, that means paying attention to the little things—the things that someone will notice no matter how “unnoticeable” you think they are.
Read on for the seemingly small style details that can make all the difference in making an amazing first impression.
1. The Length of Your Pants
Yes, I know—it would be much more convenient if you could wear the same pair of dress pants with heels one day and ballet flats the next. Unfortunately, unless you’re the proud owner of some Style Snaps, you can’t have the best of both worlds. So, decide which type of shoes you’ll wear with each pair of pants, and have them tailored accordingly.
When wearing heels, the hem of your dress pants should fall about ½ inch from the ground in the back—short enough that the hem doesn’t drag on the ground, but long enough that the pants graze the very top of your shoe in the front.
Source: Already Pretty
For flats, your pants should cover most of the shoe in the back, without actually touching the ground.
Source: Already Pretty
2. The Length of Your Sleeves
Your sleeve length can—well, should—also prompt a trip to the tailor. An inch or two of extra fabric doesn’t seem like a big deal, but sleeves that are too long (or too short) can make you look frumpy and unpolished. Ideally, the cuff of your sleeve should hit just below your wrist when holding your arms at your sides.
Source: Putting Me Together
3. Gaping Button-up Shirts
Button-up blouses have a pesky tendency to gape at the chest, even when they otherwise fit perfectly. Your best option, of course, is to buy a shirt that fits perfectly in the chest, and then have it tailored to fit everywhere else. But if tailoring isn’t your thing, you can get away with a little well-placed fashion tape to smooth the gaping. Or, try The Shirt, a line of blouses with buttons on the inside that prevent the dreaded gap.
4. Well-Maintained Shoes
While you’d think shoes are the last things anyone would notice, they’re more obvious than you think, especially if you tend to cross your legs in meetings (or work with a shoe-loving bunch of ladies).
So, if your go-to pair is scuffed beyond recognition, or the heel is worn down to the nail (resulting in an embarrassing clack-clack-clack every time you walk across the room), invest in a new pair (or at least some replacement heel caps).
5. Not Wearing a Belt
If you’re wearing a pair of pants with belt loops and a tucked-in shirt, you should definitely wear a belt—empty belt loops look forgetful and, well, empty.
And take the reverse into consideration, as well: If you want to wear a belt with skirts or slacks that don’t have belt loops, make sure to secure it somehow—otherwise, when you sit down or stand up, you risk some awkward belt shifting. So, grab some safety pins and try this trick—it’s super easy and unnoticeable.
Source: Clothed Much
6. Appropriate Accessories
Sure, accessories can make an outfit—but if you want your audience’s complete attention in a formal situation (e.g., an interview or big presentation), you also don’t want your statement necklace to steal the show. So, if your main goal isn’t to display your sense of style, stick with simple accessories. This goes for everything: earrings (one pair only), rings (one on each hand, at most), and necklaces (dainty is best).
7. Manicured Nails
You use your hands a lot—to shake hands, to gesture in conversation, and to shift through files. So make sure your nails make a good impression. They don’t have to be manicured, but they should be free of torn cuticles and chipped polish.
If you’re a nail biter, you only have a few options: Commit to growing them out, get some (short and natural-looking) falsies, or get regular manis, which can help you resist the urge to bite. Polish-wise, if your workplace is a casual startup, by all means, break out the neon. However, if you work in a more traditional, corporate environment, you’ll want to stick to neutrals.
8. Wet Hair
When you’re trying to make a great first impression, you certainly don’t want to look like you woke up late and rolled out of bed right into the office. The first indicator of this? Wet hair. You may think your half-dry hair goes unnoticed, but even with a perfectly tailored suit, wet hair tends to scream, “Look at me! I’m a mess!” On those uber-important days at the office, take the extra time to dry and style your locks.
9. The Rest
Before you head out the door, don’t forget to check the final details: Make sure you aren’t storing hair ties on your wrists, your perfume isn’t overwhelming, and your teeth are lunch- and lipstick-free. With impeccable style and matching confidence, you’ll knock ’em dead.
After beginning a career in management, Katie realized she wasn’t doing what she loved and determined it was time for a major career transition. Now, as a staff writer/editor for The Muse and a content marketing writer for a healthcare IT company, she gets to do what she loves every day—write and edit content ranging from demand generation campaigns to career advice. Her career and management content has been published on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, Inc., and Newsweek. Find her on Twitter @kgwolfie.More from this Author