Two Ways: J.Crew Dotted Blouse

Mar 5, 2014


Shirt: Factory Silk Dotted Blouse ($65)

From Left, Earrings: J.Crew Pearl Earrings ($50) Sunglasses: Kors Layla Sunglasses ($126) Bag: Blake Medium Leather Satchel ($465) Shoes: Ivanka Trump Indico Pumps ($99) Trench: J.Crew Collection Trench ($298) Blazer: Mango Tailored Blazer ($80) Skirt: Mango Suit Skirt ($45)

From Right, Necklace: K. Amato Marble Coin Necklace ($85) Bag: Nine West On the Go Satchel ($31) Shoes: Zara Leather Studded Flats ($59) Sweater: Cashmere Long Sleeve Tee ($188) Pants: J.Crew Bristol Trouser ($168)

For a Job Interview. It’s that time of year again! New job seekers, freshly graduated and ladies who’ve decided to make a change are taking the next step in their careers.  Thus, a lot of “what do I wear to a job interview” emails have been flooding my inbox.  And unless you’re interviewing at a tech start-up that allows you to play ping-pong during the workday, you need to wear a suit.

One of my former interns just bought this suit for her first round of job interviews.  She reports that the fabric feel is “okay” and that the fit “runs small in the skirt, normal in the jacket.”  She also tells me that it’s “as nice as my suit from Limited, not quite as nice as my suit from J.Crew.”

Calvin Klein‘s diffusion line also makes a nice suit.  And Nordstrom has a few nice ones if you’re willing to pay a bit more.  We’ll talk more about job interview attire next Wednesday when I officially launch a bi-weekly series of posts called Work Wednesdays.  I hope you’ll like it as much as I’ve liked putting them together.

If need be, you can wear tights with this look.  I don’t recommend it, however, since I think nylons are the best choice for job interviews.  I like the super sheer Donna Karan ones, which come in several flesh-toned colors.

As for the accessories, the outfit is quite neutral, so I chose a red bag to bring in some color.  I also chose pearl earrings to set off the ivory hue in the blouse.  I own these J.Crew studs and I like them a lot, but if you want the real thing, you can’t go wrong with Mikimoto.

For the makeup, keep it neutral and simple–taupe eyeshadow, rosy cheeks, pink lips and pale pink nail polish.  For the hair, wear it down and natural, unless you play with it when you’re nervous.  In which case, a soft, not severe, updo or low ponytail is a good choice.

For Casual Monday. With the weather in its undecided phase between winter and spring, layering a silk oxford under a bright sweater is a good way to be in both seasons at once.  I like this purple cashmere tee, but you could also choose a ballet pink (pretty with black/ivory) or a bolder neon bright.

These Bristol trousers from J.Crew come in petite and tall sizes as well.  With everything at J.Crew hit or miss these days, I’ve found their trousers–while unlined–to be consistently good.  I’ve also found Ann Taylor’s new “curvy fit” pants to be a welcome addition to the brand.  Sizing can be a bit tricky, but they’re much more forgiving for the pear-shaped.  Plus-size?  A couple of my friends keep raving about the Sejour brand at Nordstrom.

How great is this necklace?  With shades of grey, black and white, it’s the kind of piece that you can wear with anything.  It’s definitely going on my birthday wish list.  Need something less expensive?  This Blu Bijoux marble necklace is a great alternative at $35.

As for the bag, I know some of you don’t like leather either for ethical reasons or practical ones.  I thought the shape and style on this nylon Nine West bag was really impressive, especially for the price.  Much better than a lifeless, shapeless Longchamp.  I also like the shoe compartment on the bottom for your commuter flats.

For the hair, I would leave it down.  Pulling it up into a bun might make the whole look a bit too matronly, but a more youthful updo could be okay.  For the makeup, I’d wear a raspberry gloss on my lips and a good coat of black liquid liner.

Three Ways

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  1. Marisa says:

    Thanks! I have two job interviews in the coming week so this is helpful.

  2. SLG says:

    Even if you are interviewing at a tech start-up that allows you to play ping-pong during the workday (I work at one of those), consider wearing a suit, or at least suit-ish separates. This depends largely on what department you’re interviewing for — software engineers probably don’t expect a suit; PR/marketing/finance probably do.

    For my interview (with a marketing team at a tech company), I wore this JCrew skirt, a lightweight button-up shirt, and a black jacket, and heels. I was told later that my clothes made a good impression. 🙂 Now that I’m interviewing candidates, I’m always glad to see someone show up looking professional, even if it’s dress trousers and a nice cardigan.

    • SLG says:

      Woops! So much for my link to that skirt. It’s out of stock now (linked below) but figured I’d link to it for an example of a creative take on the business-y pencil skirt.*g5o3StQ

    • Jessica says:

      SLG– I went for an interview at a tech startup for a position in the marketing dept. today. I wore a solid black suit with a blouse and was definitely over dressed. I’m going in for a second interview later this week… do you think I could dress down a little more?

      • SLG says:

        Jessica – first off, congrats on getting not just a first interview, but a second!

        It’s really hard to say without knowing the specific company: how big they are, how people dress there, who their customers are. I wouldn’t worry too much about being more formally dressed than your interviewers — that’s expected. But marketing folks can generally get away with dressing more creatively (which isn’t always the same as more casual). You might try swapping out once piece of your business attire for something more creative: a colored pencil skirt and a nice blouse, business skirt/trousers with a more casual top and the jacket swapped for a Chanel-style cropped jacket, etc. If literally everyone you see there is wearing jeans, you can probably do a cardigan instead of a suit jacket. Belle also did a post once on interview attire for creative positions — I’m sure a search would turn it up.

        Best of luck!

      • Anna says:

        A dress with a blazer, perhaps a colored one with the sleeves rolled up, is suit-ish and appropriate for different levels of formality. I also agree with the pencil skirt and interesting blouse. A standard black interview suit can seem a bit stuffy and severe in a creative environment, but even if you’d be wearing jeans everyday while working there, interview attire should err on the more formal side.

  3. Megan says:

    What’s your opinion on different colored suit pieces? My suit doesn’t fit well right now, and the last time I had an interview I totally panicked and went shopping, but couldn’t find anything. I ended up with a gray jacket that I wore over a black pinstriped dress.

    I have an interview next week, and since I wear casual clothes in my current job I really don’t want to spend money on another new suit. Can I wear the gray jacket with a black skirt?

  4. Meg says:

    Have you tried Argan Oil as a moisturizer? Just started using Josie Maran Argan oil that I got as a sample with 100 pts from Sephora. Any thoughts or experiences with it?

  5. GoGoGo says:

    Your interview stuff is always great to see. Thanks Belle.

    Hey, here’s a fan request: I know you’ve talked about interview-wear many times in the past, but if you ever wanted to put together a post of 4 or 5 different Belle-approved interview outfits in one place, I’d love to see it, and I bet a lot of other folks would too.

    Among other things, nowadays it seems pretty common to have three or four different interviews with the same place over the course of the application process, which means that having just one conservative outfit doesn’t cut it anymore.

    Thanks as always!

    • GoGoGo says:

      …and I just re-read the post and saw that more posts on this topic are coming on Wednesdays. Cool beans. Thanks.

  6. GoGoGo says:

    Also, I totally have that Calvin Klein suit, or one a lot like it. They are easy to spot at department stores.

    Mine feels great and has held up well for a couple years now. The fabric still feels nice, and I just throw mine in with the wash.

    One thing is that the buttons it comes with are quite big and shiny. They’re mirror-like and say Calvin Klein around the edge. I brought the jacket to a tailor in DC and asked if she could swap them for plain black ones. Funny enough, she said a bunch of people had brought in this same CK jacket with the same request. She even had a little box of leftover shiny buttons she’d removed! But, yeah, with the new buttons the suit looks sharp, and anonymous.

  7. ACC says:

    This could NOT be more timely; as I’m knee deep in interview stress for summer internships.

    One question– I had an interview on Monday, and wore an outfit similar to the one you posted above. Black skirt suit, white/black pattern shell and pearls. I’ve been invited to a second round interview later this week and have no idea what to wear! I only have one suit with me at college, so I’m debating between:

    (A) Same black skirt suit, different/colored shell top?

    (B) Black blazer with the following dress:

    Don’t want to risk being an “outfit repeater”–any advice is much appreciated, thank you!

    • Anna says:

      Do you have a different colored blazer (even one that’s black or grey with some texture or pattern) or dress? Plain black dress with plain black dress is a little funeral-y.

      • ACC says:

        The dress is actually navy (hard to see in the online photo) but I tried the combo together and you’re right, it does look a little too subdued! My gray blazer/suit jacket is unfortunately at my parents’ place. However, I did get a little creative and put on a royal blue shift dress under my skirt and voila, it looks like a blouse!

    • Liz says:

      ACC – Swap out the shell or blouse under the suit, different shoes too, and voila! new outfit. When I was in grad school I did that many times and it never even crossed my mind to worry that I was an “outfit repeater”

      • ACC says:

        Thanks Liz! I tried your advice and it totally worked–I got creative and tried a royal blue shift dress under the pencil skirt and it looks just like a normal shell/blouse top. Going to experiment with different accessories/shoes too.

  8. Elle says:

    Love the Casual Monday posts. They’re perfect for everyday at my workplace, and I’ve been needing some inspiration!

  9. Jamie says:

    Has anyone tried those flats from Zara? I love them but I’m worried that they’ll be uncomfortable or cheap. I wish there was a Zara near me so I could check them out in person.

  10. Chloe says:

    I had this debate with a former roomie of mine so I would love your take on it, readers & Belle – I wore a suit to my first-ever interview fresh out of college and felt fine in it, but was obviously way overdressed (creative field – marketing/editorial. In my last round of job interviews, 4 years later, I wore a structured dress, blazer (buttoned), tights and heels with a structured bag. My roommate, who is almost 30, has said that she feels people who have had a few years of job experience don’t necessarily have to go for the stuffy suit if you’re never (ever) used to wearing one, as long as your outfit is professional in general. Her thinking is that you should wear something you’ll feel comfortable in, that still shows professionalism and looks “neat and clean.”

    Thoughts? If you’re interviewing for an exec position or at a very conservative office, sure, suit is necessary. But is it necessary all the time?

  11. Chloe says:

    (Oh and I’m 26, since I think this is an age-specific Q…)

    • SLG says:

      Chloe – I work in marketing for a DC-area tech company with a casual dress code and I interview candidates pretty frequently. Here’s my take:

      – In creative fields, interviewees aren’t expected to wear ultra-conservative, stuffy suits. But they are still expected to dress professionally. I recently interviewed a candidate who wore a fairly standard style of pants suit (think Banana Republic/JCrew), but her suit wasn’t black and the color of her blouse and the style of her accessories were all very fashion-forward. It was the perfect combo of professional and creative.

      – Don’t ever worry about being more formally dressed than your interviewer. That’s expected. I frequently wear jeans to work and I don’t dress up more on days when I’m interviewing — but if a marketing candidate showed up in jeans, that would seem odd. That may seem like a double standard, but I think there’s an expectation that a candidate is putting their best foot forward and how they dress is part of that.

      – As long as you look professional, a good interviewer won’t care too much about what you’re wearing. I’ve seen a few memorable outfits (like the guy who showed up in a white tuxedo-style jacket!), but in general, an interviewer wants to find out if you’re the person with the right personality and skillset for the job. Er on the side of professionalism and knock your interview out of the park! If you look professional and the interviewer doesn’t like what you’re wearing, you probably don’t want to work with them anyway. 🙂

      • chloe says:

        Oh god – would NEVER wear jeans to an interview. Eek. But would hate a place that wouldn’t ever let you wear jeans ato work. Thanks – this makes sense to me!

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