If you plan to pursue a professional career, at some point, you will need to go on a job interview. Interviews can be stressful, difficult and frustrating. I’ve always found that some of that stress is alleviated when I know that I’m dressed appropriately. Confidence is important in job interviews, and if you know that you look your best, that will bolster your confidence.
Since many hiring processes call for multiple interviews, I tell first time job seekers to have a few pieces that you can mix-and-match. And having the outfits chosen in advance will eliminate some of the preparation needed. Here are the five easy pieces that comprise the foundation of a professional interview wardrobe.
As I mentioned above, this selection would be the “I am prepared for anything!” wardrobe. And since these five pieces comprise the foundation of six different outfits, they would also be the primary building blocks for your first work wardrobe.
That being said, if you can’t afford to stock up in this manner or your future job won’t require professional attire post-hiring, you can easily get buy with one suit and one extra jacket to wear with the suit bottoms. Those three pieces would be enough for two interviews, which is all most employers require.
I chose suiting pieces from brands that I wear on a regular basis–J.Crew, Zara, Mango. If you have a tight budget (and many people starting out do), Limited, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, and Express make affordable suiting. I’d also look into Jones New York, you can find the line in nearly every department store and the quality is good for the price.
In the middle category, I would look for suits at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic (esp. when they go on sale). And if you are toward the middle of your career and have bit of money to spend, Hugo Boss and Nanette Lepore are two of the brands that have me saving up for a new suit.
Regardless of how much your suit cost, you need to take it to a tailor. For between $30 and $90, depending on the intensity of the alterations, a tailor can make a less expensive suit look like it cost much more than it did. And if you spent good money on your suit, tailoring will help it live up to its price point.
Later today, I’ll use these five basic pieces to make three interview outfits that will help even a rookie job-seeker project the confidence of a seasoned professional. Because even though your resume, skills and attitude are the critical elements of any job search, looking your best helps you make a great first impression.