Federica Gabardi is a women’s empowerment coach and a professional trainer. Her passion is to help women discover their superpowers and express them through exceptional communication skills. She includes personal image support as part of her company's services at the Fearless Women's Institute. Federica believes - and research confirms it - that what we wear has a powerful impact on ourselves, and she wants all women to be able to feel and experience that impact. The Swing Shift asked Federica to share the two most common questions her clients ask about their image, and what she tells them to help them feel their most confident selves.
(Interview edited for length and clarity)
#1: What is the best way to dress for a job interview for this modern job search?
Job interviews are usually stressful. So first, you want an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident, starting with your first layer. For example: you may have a lucky bra (There’s nothing wrong with that! Many professional athletes have lucky charm garments) but if the straps are too loose and they keep falling, forcing you to put them in place – well… go for another one. You want to put all your energy into the things you want to hear and say during the interview - not to worry about bra straps.
Second, wear clothes that are clean and in good shape. It shows that you respect yourself and the person in front of you. Appropriate consideration for the environment you would be entering demonstrates your recognition of the importance of the various individuals, the team, and the organization you’re talking to as a candidate. Also, investigate the culture ahead of time: is it formal? More casual? You don’t have to get dressed in a way that otherwise you would never do! But you definitely want your outfit to be relevant in the context of the interview.
Third, wear something that is part of your style. If you are a scarf person, or you love wearing a certain color, go for it. Look at Madeline Albright and her pins, or Janelle Monae’s black and white ensembles as great examples of signature style. Additionally, as for some garment advice, a blazer or a leather jacket are flexible and I would totally consider them as part of your interview outfit.
#2: What is a “work uniform?” and does it mean I wear the same outfit everyday?
Your work uniform becomes a sort of magic armor that empowers you. Your work uniform is the best single piece of clothing or the full outfit you want to wear to be quickly ready in the morning. Creating that work uniform means that you sit on your bed, review all your clothes and decide what pieces serve this purpose. From there, you can easily plan what to fill in, so you have enough pieces of your own “work uniform” to cover one week so that you don’t waste time doing the laundry halfway through.
So, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are wearing the same outfit every day (though technically, you could.) I have clients that have chosen the combination trousers + turtleneck for the winter season and they play with colors but don’t change the style. Others decide to everyday wear a nice t-shirt + leather jacket and they match it with trousers or jeans or a skirt or a dress.
What I like is that it’s a uniform, but it’s about you, taking into account what best serves your purpose, both in an interview, and on the job day to day. So while making this decision you keep the idea of looking good and being confident to step into the next stage of your life.