Yesterday, I posted the five basic pieces that make up a well-stocked interview wardrobe. Today, I’ll show you how to turn those outfits into three outfits that will shepherd you through your career search.
For a first interview, I like to keep things very simple: a black suit, basic heels, a neutral blouse, sheer nylons. Keeping it conservative and simple is the best choice if you’re unsure what to wear or what the office dress code will be. If you’re a bit overdressed or dressed a bit too conservatively, most interviewers will expect that and think nothing of it.
J.Crew 1035 Blazer ($248) and Telegraph Pencil Skirt ($98) // Pearl Stud Earrings ($50) // H&M V-Neck Blouse ($30) // Michael Kors Flex Pumps ($100) // Elizabeth & James Windrose Ring ($95) // Donna Karan The Nudes Sheer Nylons ($20) // Pierre Darre Satchel ($198) // Essie Ballet Slippers ($9)
I chose the H&M blouse because the v-neck looks great with the blazer and the fitted pencil skirt plays well with the fuller shirt. If you prefer something less staid, try a polka-dot blouse or a geometric print. If you want to add some color, I like cornflower blue blouses with black suits.
Mix in a comfortable pair of heels (you never know how much walking/standing you’ll do) and a colorful bag for accessories that mix form and function. I also like to keep the jewelry simple with a pair of pearl studs and a simple ring (I own both of these pieces and love them.). And keep your nails clean, trimmed and polished in either clear or pale pink.
As for the hair, if you touch your hair when nervous, pull it up. A low ponytail, a twisted updo or a low bun are all good options. If you’re not worried about playing with it, wear your hair down in a natural style. If you’re going in for a first interview, keep your makeup fresh, clean and neutral. No heavily pigmented lipsticks, eyeshadows or blushes. And keep the application light but pretty, too much makeup could send the wrong message.
For a second interview, your attire depends on who your meeting. If you’re going to meet with someone higher up the food chain (the Chief of Staff, CEO, etc.) keep your suit, but switch out the skirt for the pants and choose a new blouse. But all of my second interviews have been with the same person or group of people, so I’ve always worn something different.
Altoids Mints ($2) // Albert di Canio Bag ($195) // Donna Karan The Nudes Sheer Nylons ($20) // Zara Blazer with Zip Pockets ($139) // Telegraph Skirt in Super 120s ($98) // Hematite Studs ($30) // L’Agence Sheer Yolk Shell ($79) // ASOS Stateside Heels ($60)
Suit separates are a good choice for a second interview or for an interview in a workplace that doesn’t have a conservative dress code. You’re still wearing a jacket, so it’s appropriate, but it’s not a full suit.
Tweed or boucle jackets are my favorite alternative to a blazer, but you need to take steps to keep the jacket from looking matronly. To prevent this, I added a black silk shell with a sheer yoke, a pair of fashion-forward but appropriate heels, and chose these hematite studs. If the L’Agence blouse is sold out in your size, you can select a basic top like this Ann Taylor blouse or another sheer yoke top like this Calvin Klein blouse.
Also, don’t go to a job interview or an important meeting without some breath mints in your bag. I interviewed an intern a few years back who clearly had not eaten anything prior to his 10:00AM interview, and the smell could have killed fish. That is not the impression you want to leave on your would-be employer.
Gianni Bini Stackable Ring ($50) and Dome Band ($50) // Pierre Darre Satchel ($198) // Mango Suit Jacket ($70) // 1035 Trouser in Super 120s ($148) // Baroni Madison Earrings ($52) // Mango Blouson Dot Blouse ($89) // LOFT Petra Pumps ($79)
While many job offers happen via e-mail or phone, as you climb the career ladder, you may find that your new employer wants to make the offer in person over lunch. It’s important that you look the part for this occasion just as you would for an interview, think of it as your first day of work. This outfit would also be appropriate for a visit to HR to fill out hiring paperwork or grabbing coffee with someone you want to help you with your job search.
I love the look of an off-white blazer with an off-white blouse. This Mango blouse has a bit of texture and sheer to give it an airy feel, but if you want something more solid, try this Mango tie-neck blouse.
For the jewelry, I chose a pearl and gold earrings and simple gold rings. I love the way pearl earrings look next to white or off white tops. And for the shoes I chose a leopard print to add some style to an otherwise monochromatic outfit. If you’re not feeling the leopard, a simple pointed toe black short would be nice or you could skip the red bag and wear a colored high heel instead. I would recommend red or cobalt.