An Interview With Style

I had a job interview a week or so ago. (It went very well, thankyouverymuch, and I got the job. So, hurrah!) The biggest challenge wasn't the interview itself, though. It was figuring out what in the heck I should wear. How to be professional but not stodgy? Stylish but not over-the-top? How to express my own personal style but still be appropriate?

In this bummer of an economy (have you heard?), I bet I am not the only one heading to interviews and hoping for the best. Here are some tips on putting your best foot, and fashion, forward.

Before you even go to the interview, do a little reconnaissance.

Call the office's receptionist, explain that you have an interview and want to look your best, and ask what most people in the company wear to work. If you have a friend working in the organization, pick her brain for ideas, too.

Also, take into consideration the location and type of job. A rec center and a corporate office have vastly different office cultures and dress codes. Dress for the job you want.

For traditional office jobs, suits are usually best and conservative colors such as navy, gray and black are your safest bet. If you go with a skirt suit, make sure the skirt is long enough that you can sit comfortably without showing too much leg. Nylons are also a must with skirt suits (sorry ladies) and you should stick with neutral colors.

The cut of your suit, however, does give you a little bit of creative freedom. Of course, everything you wear to an interview should fit well. Make sure your suit jacket, especially, has a flattering and well-fitting cut. To add a little spice, look for suits with subtle unique details, such as a narrower lapel, non-traditional buttons, scalloped cuffs or a more trendy cut. Tasteful stripes or other subtle patterns can also kick it up a notch. Suits do not have to look and feel like you dressed in a refrigerator box.

Once you have the perfect suit picked out, a coordinated blouse is the next step, and you have a little freedom here, as well. As with the suit, more conservative colors are best, but don't be afraid of a little flair like tuxedo ruffles on the front of your blouse, a peter pan collar, or even a lace or silk camisole under your suit jacket instead.

For your fancy feet, stick with closed-toe shoes, pumps or loafers. Leave the stiletoes at home (unless you are going to that kind of job interview). Depending on the season, a simple pair of boots might also be appropriate. Add some edge with a low-heeled patent shoe or a subtly two-toned heel. Sandals are out. Unless it's an interview with "Baywatch," of course.

{Stella McCartney shoes on}

As a general rule, jewelry should be minimal, and no jewelry is better than obviously cheap jewelry. But, you have a chance to make a statement here as well. Add some color to your suit with a tasteful brooch, or spice up your blouse with a colorful necklace. I have one with pearls and lightly-colored rhinestones that works perfectly for this type of occasion. As with all interview attire, keep it on the subtle side (that means take out your nose ring and don't wear a whole armful of bangles) but don't be afraid to express your personal style. A silk scarf is also a great accessory option.


Keep make-up and perfume light (that means save the cat-eye eyeliner for later), and make sure your nails are clean and well-manicured. If you like having polish on your nails, go for a light, simple color. Make sure your hair looks neat and professional. Cover tattoos, and leave your gum behind. Instead, pop a breath mint just before you walk into the building.

Finally, put your resume and all the other paperwork you need into a nice briefcase or portfolio. An interview for the job of your dreams is not the place for your tiny clubbing purse or your over-stuffed handbag. (Plus, you just never know what is going to fall out of those massive purses. Am I right?)


Try on your ideal interview ensemble a few days in advance, to make sure everything fits and looks just right. Check all your clothes for tears, wrinkles, holes and scuffs. Lay out your outfit the night before your interview so you're not stressed trying to pull it together the morning of.

And then get in there and knock 'em dead! I know you can.

Are you on the interview circuit?
What ensemble helps you hit it out of the park?


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