Ask Belle: First Interview Suits
Dec 8, 2014
I have an interview next week. I’m mid-career in the fed gov. I regularly wear dresses or skirt/top/sweater combos to work. I haven’t interviewed for several years and need a new suit, and I have exactly one week to get it done.
Are J. Crew suits still good quality? If so, what’s better – the stretch wool line or the super 120s line? What about Brooks Brothers? What’s better – pants or skirt? Any other suggestions?
Your interview suit should be the definition of basic–the simpler, the better. I prefer skirt suits for first interview, but if you’re more comfortable in pants, that’s fine too. I would avoid skinny trousers, however. The slimmer pants are far less traditional than a trouser cut, and, in my opinion, not as professional.
The J.Crew suits are fine. Not as good as they used to be, but if you can grab one on sale, decent quality for the price. (I wouldn’t pay full price for one though.) I own a suit from the Super120s line. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 7.
Brooks Brothers makes a nice suit. The challenge when shopping there is that most of the suits are made in traditional cuts or fabrics that verge on matronly. However, the classic two-button suit above is a great option for any age group. This classic navy suit with a one-button jacket and this charcoal grey Stellita suit are both good options for a first interview.
If you’re searching for suiting in this price point, I recommend BOSS by Hugo Boss suits. I purchased on on eBay last year, and it’s my favorite suit. They’re well made, the right mix of basic and unique, and don’t require much tailoring. This Jadena blazer in sharkskin blue is my favorite.
If you’re looking for suits in a lower price point, Calvin Klein is a good place to start. This charcoal suit is a lovely basic. Tahari ASL is another option, but you have to be able to sort through the chaff. This skirt suit with a sleek peplum is a lovely choice.
Ann Taylor is another retailer who makes professional suiting at affordable prices. However, since the cuts aren’t the greatest, tailoring is essential. I purchased this Ann Taylor peplum suit, and I like it. I also know several people who own their all-season, two-button suit and give it good reviews. It also comes in petite and tall sizes.
Another place to look for mid-price suiting is Dillard’s. Antonio Melani makes some amazing suits in the under-$200 price range. This Annabelle suit is a great basic, and the quality is quite good for the price. Gianni Bini also offers a couple of modern pant suits.