The photo above is from the website of Washington State University’s Dept. of Apparel, Merchandising and Textiles. It appears, that in an effort to help their graduates find good jobs, the school created a site to teach their students how to dress for job interviews. A worthwhile service no doubt, unless of course, you are arguing that your students should dress like dowdy, color-blind East German housewives who enjoy synthetic fabrics.
First off, please do not wear any of the outfits in the photo above. Ever. This is not a guide for how to dress, so much as it is a manual for how not to dress.
Second, in addition to the full outfits, there are many pieces in this photo that should be burned immediately. These include:
- Three-button leather (or in this case faux-leather) jackets,
- Square-toed shoes with block heels,
- Plaid separates meant to be worn together,
- Boxy, untailored jackets,
- ¾ length blazers (This photo is proof that they don’t look good on anyone. It just looks like you forgot to take off your coat.)
- Sheer pantyhose
- Maxi-dresses that hit above the ankle bone.
Third, What the Hell? I mean, What The HELL?!?!? I pray that this was done in the early nineties, but it looks more much more recent than that. So I will shed a tear for the poor women who live in Pullman because with the exception of the statement necklace on the woman in the middle, there is not one item of clothing on this page that I would wear.
Fourth, tailoring. Between the gaping shirt seams, the awkward sleeve-lengths, the poorly shaped jackets and the pants hemmed way too short, these outfits are a professional tailor’s worst nightmare. Hell, they’re my worst nightmare.
Five, people often ask me why I started this blog. The answer is that professional women in America need to start being honest with ourselves and with each other about how we look. Too often, we fall into a style rut and no one comes to save us because they don’t want to hurt our feelings.
As Roll Call put it, my advice can be a little bit “honest” because that is what women need. I consider this blog a sartorial Come to Jesus. I want to help people gain the confidence that comes with knowing you look good. Not because appearance is the most important thing, but because looking good allows you to physically evoke the professionalism and charisma that you have inside of you.
Think about it, when you walk through the door for a job interview, any potential employer will judge your appearance first. Then you will talk about your qualifications, your potential and your ideas. If you are dressed badly, you will have to overcome that unfavorable first impression. And in this job market, who needs an extra mountain to climb?
The outfits above are terrible. They are only “professional” because most women believe that being work-appropriate means checking color, style and femininity at the door. And I don’t believe that our forebears smashed that glass ceiling so women would have to mask their sexuality and sense of style in order to be taken seriously at work. We do not need to trade our femininity for respect in the workplace, we can look good and be a good employee. So let’s stop selling ourselves short, this is not a zero sum game.