SMART DRESSING INVOLVES sending subliminal messages, particularly when a serious job is at stake. This is something that even high-ranking business leaders can underestimate.
In commerce, unlike in Hollywood, fashion plays a largely uncredited role. Business schools train graduates to shine their shoes for an interview. But once established, apart from avoiding the obvious gaffe -- a coffee-stained shirt or a visible rhinestone bra strap -- many executives spend little time contemplating what to wear to a job interview. At their peril.
I recently suggested to Dorothy Waldt, a New York executive recruiter, that CEOs and other high-level job candidates must know what to wear by that stage in their careers. "You'd think!" she said when she had stopped laughing.
"People don't understand the messages that their clothes send," says Ms. Waldt, a recruiter with CTPartners. Women sometimes don't realize how often a tight shirt or a low neckline comes across as seductive. People who meet them are likely to assume the sexual innuendo is intentional.