Dress For Success, Elizabeth

Tip 4: Don’t Show Up Slovenly Dressed

Elizabeth Bennet may have scored points with Mr. Darcy when she turned up in Mr. Bingley’s breakfast-parlour in mud-drenched petticoats, but not everyone was impressed with her entrance. Perhaps Mr. Darcy was too busy staring at her “fine eyes” to notice her sloppy appearance, but übercritical Caroline Bingley and her equally smug sister, Louisa Hurst, made the following snide comments:

… Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added:

“She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”

“She did, indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair, so untidy, so blowsy!”

“Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.”

“Your picture may be very exact, Louisa,” said Bingley; “but this was all lost upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.”

You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley; “and I am inclined to think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition.”

“Certainly not.”

“To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum.”

“It shows an affection for her sister that is very pleasing,” said Bingley.

“I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”

“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”

No Excuse for Bad Dressing

Elizabeth had a good reason for not looking exactly freshly pressed and starched, however Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst weren’t buying it. Similarly, you won’t win points with your prospective employer if you look like you just rolled out of bed (or traipsed across the muddy countryside). Your future boss is liable to think: “If this is how he/she dresses for an interview, I don’t even want to know how he/she will dress for work!”

Dress the Part to Get the Part

Bottom line: don’t shoot yourself in the foot before the interview even starts. Strive to make a good first impression on your potential employer by dressing the part. And for those of you who are saying, I don’t want to be judged by something as shallow as my outward appearance, I have some news for you: that’s what a job interview is all about! Assume the person interviewing you is going to take the unforgiving Caroline/Louisa approach rather than the distracted/oblivious Fitzwilliam/Charles approach. Dress for success. Once you get the job, you can dress however you like (within reasonable limits).

Next up: A Lady reveals how to handle the “So, tell me about yourself” question.

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