Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sticky Sartorial Situation #1: Job Interview

The Devil cares what you wear

"You have only one chance to make a first impression." "You can't judge a book by its cover."(but we do) I've always heard you should dress for the job you want, not necessarily the one you're applying for. Then I think of the movie "Single White Female" and shudder. So, dressing for the job you want does not mean stalking the president of the company and maxing out your credit card on an Armani suit. Besides, the "business suit" is hopelessly out of sinc with today's manner of dressing.

Pants or a skirt and a coordinating jacket in a neutral color, texture or pattern are appropriate and can show a little style. And a skirt would seem to have an edge over pants. How much style to show really depends on what you know. You can't ace an interview for a loan officer in a midi skirt and boho blouse just as you won't score points at a design firm in a 1980's dress-for-success suit. Know thy industry and dress accordingly.

Let's take the idea of a black jacket, a black and white hounds tooth skirt (on trend again for fall), a third piece under the jacket, coordinating footwear and accessories and see how those pieces can score points for you at the interview.

Conservative industry (finance, law, administration)
> Hounds tooth pencil skirt— to the knee or mid-knee, very small checks 
> Fitted black blazer— fitted is key— a dressmaker jacket rather than part of a suit. Be sure to pair a wool jacket with a wool skirt or a crepe jacket with crepe skirt not mixing-matching
> Black jewel neck shell with sleeves if there's a possibility you would remove the jacket
> Nude hose
> Slightly chunky pump— this fall's loafer heel has business-style flair 
> Very simple jewelry— gold, silver or pearl stud earrings or small hoops, a brooch (low bling content) worn high on the lapel or a simple necklace that sits well on the shell

Casual industry (computers, education, corporations outside the big city)
> A-line hounds tooth skirt— mid-knee, medium size checks
Black boucle wool jacket— bracelet length sleeve, to the waist
Off-white silk or crepe blouse or shell with soft cowl neckline
> Black opaque tights— lightweight not sweater tights
Kitten or mid-high black heel— Mary Jane style or minimal adornment
Earrings no larger than 1/2" in diameter— pearl cluster, chunky hoop, simple bangle bracelet

Creative Industry (design, advertising, entertainment)
> Mid-calf length tailored hounds tooth skirt— worn with wide black belt with statement buckle
> Teal cashmere turtleneck tucked into skirt
> Black and white tweed sweater coat— mid thigh to knee length
> Black suede or leather boots— pointed toe, no ornamentation, tall enough to fit under skirt
> Large thin hoop earrings— belt buckle also acts as ornamentation

This demonstrates how the same basic pieces in concept will be very different in execution. But you won't need to create more than one look that works for you. Now if you get called back for a second interview...

Please note that there shall be:
> Nothing that jingles, clanks, blinds the eye, needs constant pulling up or pulling down
> No toe cleavage, sling backs, stilettos, peep toes, sandals, Toms, huaraches, running shoes, flip flops, clogs. If it's appropriate to your look and season to wear boots, no rubber boots, Uggs, or thigh-highs
> No jewelry with religious icons
> No obvious designer labels sprouting on clothes or accessories

Wear a watch even if you use your cell phone to tell time.

Hosiery should reflect local custom, though you can't go wrong with sheer nude hose. Don't wear hose with holes or fishnets or funky patterns.

Don't wear anything that reveals tattoos in revealing places (unless you are applying at an ink studio). It's a no-no to show too much cleavage. To reveal a tattoo at the same time is a double-dog don't. I would even go so far as to say the less body art an interviewer has to get distracted by, the better for you. That goes for multiple ear piercings (more than two) or piercing anywhere painful to think about (eyebrows, lips, tongue).

Jeans are not okay even if they cost $300, unless you are interviewing to be a ranch hand.

Your handbag should be large enough to hold what you would normally need in a purse but not so big it looks like you are moving in. Tote your laptop or other presentation items in a separate carrier.

You should never look like you are on your way to someplace else or have just come from somewhere else.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, and I'll add one more. Since I don't smoke it took four years to think of this. But if you do... DON'T right before your interview, despite your nerves or whatever drives you to light up.