Balance trend and tradition

The 80s are gone and the 90s have passed, it’s 2002, and deciding what to wear on an interview can be difficult. In a day where society deems fashion sense important, choosing trendy over traditional is now an option when preparing to interview in today’s image-driven job market.”The days of blue and gray are out,” said Tamara Bertrand, a career-planning instructor at TCC. “Businesses now definitely know that the average student dresses outside of the traditional blue suit.””In most cases you want to wear a suit, but add individuality,” she saidAdding a modern handbag, scarf or necktie to a suit is okay, however, in being contemporary, Bertrand also adds to remain professional.But with more conservative businesses, such as law and corporate offices, Bertrand’s rule of thumb may not be favored, according to Delores Dean, Director of FAMU’s Career Center.”Don’t go and get too flashy,” said Dean. “Dark navy blue suits are still the number one preferred choice.”Dean recommends ladies wear wool-blend suits with a white shirt. For men, she suggests a single-breasted suit with a dominant colored tie of red or yellow.A good suit is incomplete without the proper footwear. But choosing the right shoes can also cause problems.”My mom always said to wear closed-toe shoes when interviewing,” said Helen Okoro, 21, a senior industrial engineering student from Houston. “But closed-toe pumps just don’t compliment some of my interviewing outfits.”Dean still recommends closed-toe pumps, but Bertrand explains that due to Florida’s climate, rules on shoes are different. “Most companies are usually okay with it (open-toe shoes),” said Bertrand, who recommends a heel with a small toe opening. “But no matter what, make sure your toe nails are trimmed with a soft polish,” she adds. For the men, polished black or brown shoes that tie or slip on are appropriate, according to Dean.Depending on the company, and the line of work, fashion choices may vary. Students are encouraged to research companies and get a feel for what is appropriate.Keep in mind that you want to reflect an image that fits the company.In a field where you’re in the public eye, there may be more leeway for trendy suits, says Brian Rams, Vice President of Account Services for ThinkCreative.”We are a full service marketing and communications firm, so we like style and creativity.”However, Mike Murphy, President of William Bishop Consulting Engineers prefers something more low-key.Murphy said that on a daily basis, the attire is business casual, so being flashy doesn’t make a good impression. Both Rams and Murphy agree that the main thing is neatness.IBM intern Mendell Tillman, 21, agrees. “I was pretty casual. I just wore slacks, a shirt and tie,” said Tillman, speaking of his interview with IBM.The senior CIS student from Chicago believes that as long as you’re not sloppy employers won’t have a problem.A few fashion don’ts for ladies include loud nail polish, mini skirts, overdone hairstyles and gaudy accessories. For men, unpolished shoes, flashy suits and earrings should stay at home.Bertrand advises to be conservative, but show some personality. She says modernizing is good, but always be aware of your boundaries

Zwann L. Grays can be reached at