Looking for a job? Just few situations are trickier to dress up for than an interview. On one hand, you’ve got to get your point across at first impression, which means condensing your aesthetic, your taste, and your sartorial professionalism into one outfit. On the other, your outfit can’t speak louder than you do — leave the “statements” to your CV, not your necklace.
Whether it’s third-round interviews at a buttoned-up law firm or happy hour drinks with the founder of that start-up you’re dying to get in on, a few style tips are consistent: Don’t show too much skin, don’t wear distracting patterns or graphics, and err on the side of dressy.
While you may end up wearing a T-shirt to work every day after you’re hired, your interview is definitely the time to make sure your most competent outfit isn’t still at the cleaners. Specific to a range of different dream jobs, here you are some tips that are sure to make the right kind of impression.
Corporate Interview — Don’t attempt to deviate from a well-fitting skirt- or pantsuit, a crisp button-up shirt, and a pair of simple black pumps. Let your personality show in your bag and accessories — but only choose a couple! While a beautiful leather tote and simple gold cuff scream “I’ve got this,” a full arm party of bangles says “Look at my wrists and not at my résumé!”
Creative Interview — Whether you’re going in for a graphic design gig or a job as a merchandiser, you have a little more wiggle room for creativity — after all, that’s one of the most important components of your skill set! Look for traditional shapes in fun, varied prints and colors. Patterned trousers, on-trend turtlenecks, and cap-toed pumps show that you can think outside of the box (but are still aware of the rules).
Start-Up Interview — It might be Casual Friday five days a week at most start-ups, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to wear your jeans to meet the boss. Get a little geeky with pretty oxfords, plaid pants, and a slim-fit cardigan — but make sure that everything fits perfectly and is stain-, wrinkle-, and pill-free.
Fashion Interview — For jobs in the fashion industry, you’ve got to be able to prove that you know what the season’s trends are, and also — more importantly — know the ones that work for you body. A shift dress is one of the fall’s trendiest shapes, and a frock in a pretty pattern is absolutely perfect for a fashion interview. Experiment a little with ankle boots and a solid moto jacket (it’s your version of a blazer!), and top it off with a satchel in complementary print and hue.
Grad School Interview — You don’t have to spend a lot of cash in order to look put-together for grad school interviews. If you need to buy a dress, find one that you’ll get a lot of use out of (a pleated shirtdress goes from professional to flirty when you swap in some heels and pretty earrings), and pair it with a sleek blazer. And though you may have been able to get away with it in undergrad, just remember that a backpack is not acceptable for here. Invest in a pretty tote that’ll last you through the years.