Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to Wear: Summer Design Job Interviews

Oh, job interviews. Stress, excitement and fashion all rolled into one. I just so happen to have a lot of recent experience with this particular vein of dressing and a backed up queue of What to Wear requests. Let's catch up! Here is Miranda's request:
I have a bit of a tall order for you. I am finishing my design degree and will be going on interviews and visiting agencies. I have absolutely no idea what to wear. The outfit du jour at most design firms seems to be jeans and designer t-shirts, but that is too informal for a job interview, I think. However, I feel out-of-place wearing a power suit when the interviewer is sporting sneakers. Can you give me some ideas about what to wear to interviews in a more trendy, casual and design-oriented work atmosphere?

I am in my late twenties, so I definitely want to dress a little more sophisticated than the typical college student. I am 5’10” so I have to buy all my trousers in long or tall lengths, and I don’t like to wear bulky or fussy things. I prefer heels to flats if they are comfortable enough to wear all day. I live in the upper Midwest where we have temperature swings of 120 degrees throughout the year so I am looking for some investment pieces that I can wear from season to season. Finally, it’s possible that I could meet with the same people a number of times, so if I could have some mix/match options, that would be great.

I love every outfit you’ve put together on WTW, so I would really appreciate your expertise!
Unless you're interviewing with an investment bank or law firm (and maybe even then) a full matching suit isn't really the right choice for a job interview. Instead, look for classic cuts in fun mix and match pieces. Here's a version for summer:

Blouse - This one is a splurge, but such a lovely splurge. It's a knock-out. You might be able to find something similar at Zara for less.
Skirt - A white or light gray pencil skirt is surprisingly flexible. I have one that I wear with button down tucked in shirts in summer. And with darker sweaters and tights in winter. This one is under $30.
Blazer - Blazers are great for interviews because they're structured but can be easily tossed if the interview is more casual. This one is on sale from Anthropologie for $40. I leaned heavily on a favorite velvet blazer from J.Crew in papaya during my interviews.
Pumps - Basic black pumps on sale from J.Crew.
Earrings - A dash of orange, because you're a designer understand get things like complimentary colors.
Bracelet - A graduation present?
Bag - A serious handbag on sale from Kenneth Cole.

For other interviews, rinse and repeat with a few of your favorite pieces. A pair of trousers with a top and belted sweater. Or a wrap dress with a cardigan. I tend to pick clothes that are bright/basic and focus on memorable accessories that tie it all together. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and confident. Good luck with your hunt!


Heather said...

I'm dying to know about your new job!!! Even if you can't disclose the company, can you spill it in vague terms?

MrsEm said...

Monday! I promise I'll spill the beans first thing next week :)

this one said...

i love this one!! you rock!!