Amy E. Goodman knows how important it is for a woman to look and feel her best. As the Author of Wear This, Toss That! and a frequent contributor on the Today Show, The View and In Style magazine, Goodman has saved countless women money and stress with her budget-smart style advice. Amy recently gave even more than her expert advice when she made a generous donation to Dress for Success. We asked Amy for her thoughts on Dress for Success and the role style plays in crafting a successful career.
AEG: I’ve always had suits as part of my wardrobe, but ironically my line of work has never really called for one. In magazines, your first interview question is really completed with a glance: “What are you wearing?!” So when I moved to a new city and dusted off some of my unused suits in the process, I contacted a local chapter of Dress for Success in my area and made a major drop off…some really nice designer duds. My theory that I discuss in my book Wear This, Toss That! is that if you aren’t actively wearing something, there’s no excuse to not move it forward so that someone else can wear it NOW. And years and years ago, I remember an article that ran in In Style during my tenure there with a mention of the organization, so that was the first introduction.
As part of your donation, you included autographed copies of your fashion guide, Wear This, Toss That. What tips from the book do you think Dress For Success clients will find the most helpful?
AEG: Namely that your closet should contain clothes that celebrate you and make you feel empowered. It costs us not to look our best, and what I mean by that is it can cost you an interview if you aren’t appropriately attired. Let go of clothes that are over-worn, ill-fitting or underutilized for the last 2-3 years. Perhaps this is earmarking the close of one chapter of your life and the beginning of a new one, and clothes are often inherently tied up in emotional sentiment.
Dressing right for the occasion and in clothes that flatter and are age appropriate is key for what lies before you. As part of your interview process, your overall presentation (which includes the clothes and makeup you wear and how you style your hair) form an irrevocable first impression: make it a positive one. You need to be utterly prepared in every sense of the word because you want your interviewer to focus on what you have to say–as opposed to being distracted by a poor fashion choice.
Your donation included several statement pieces such as a Vera Wang faux fur neckpiece with matching fur earmuffs. What advice would you offer on incorporating impressive pieces into an interview-ready look?
AEG: It’s fantastic to incorporate a touch of trend by using accessories, which is nice because they can be budget-friendly, but never overdo it. In the case of faux fur, it wouldn’t suit you well to have a faux fur coat and a faux fur keyhole scarf and faux fur ear muffs…we might mistake you for a small animal! Once you try things on before a mirror, and you absolutely should, ask yourself if you find your additions distracting in any way. If the earrings are too long and dangly (or) if your bag is too bold and bright–start subtracting. By the way, “impressive” does not have to mean expensive. There are so many designers now teaming up with mass retailers to offer attainable price points for all. Naturally I’m also queen of the sale; my mother had the mantra of never buying something at full price. Be resourceful – take advantage of consignment and thrift stores and major markdowns to find the small touches that will complete your interview look.
When it comes to dressing for an interview, a lot of women aren’t sure where to start. If you could save women everywhere from making one business attire mistake, what would it be?
AEG: There’s only one mistake? I would say that wearing a suit that in some way doesn’t speak to you will bring down your entire demeanor and confidence. Maybe you love the width of the collar and how it flatters your face. Maybe it’s the color…you shine in red and it’s the loveliest burgundy you’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s the cut of the blouse that flatters your chest and makes you feel like a million dollars. Make sure that what you are wearing speaks to you, and that will enable your soul to sing.
Do you have any parting words of advice for women entering the work force?
AEG: The one thing that you cannot claim in the donation closet, that you won’t find on the shopping rack, that no amount of blush can brighten is really the golden ticket under it all, and that is confidence. We try to sell confidence in perfume bottles and lipstick tubes and gorgeous leather satchels with metallic clasps, but those are surface remedies for what truly lies within. If YOU believe that you can tackle the work at hand and you can sell your attributes on the premise that you are the best person for the job, then by golly, I’d hire you. So yes, make sure the exterior as in the clothes, makeup and hair reflect your personality by fitting you to a T perfectly, and thereafter when you walk in and sit down, floor them with the knowledge that they need you, and that you can do it.
We’re thankful that Amy could donate not only clothing, but her time and advice as well. If you’d like to read more of Amy’s pointers for making the right fashion choices in and out of the office, pick up a copy of her hit fashion manual Wear This, Toss That! And remember – you don’t have to be a successful fashion guru to make a difference at Dress for Success. Visit your local chapter, or find us online to discover how you can make an impact today.