to help alleviate your dress distress. I
promise—landing that dream job will
be so much more of a reality when you
walk into the interview feeling confident
and composed. A polished outfit can
actually have that effect.
If you believe a suit is, well, suitable for an interview, then you are not
wrong. The safest choice of garb to
wear to an interview is a classic-colored
suit—usually navy, black, or gray. Men
can pair this with a button down shirt
and tie. For women, a V-neck or scoop
neck top generally goes nicely. However,
be sure the neckline remains modest
if you lean forward. If a blouse buttons down the front, check for gapping.
Many a professional woman has re-sorted to a well-placed inside pin or two
between the buttons that don’t quite do
their job. While pencil skirts are an alternative to pants, they should be worn
at or below the knee. In this setting, be
sure to wear neutral-colored or conservative solid (i.e., no fishnets, patterns, or
bright colors) stockings with skirts.
By simply removing your jacket,
you can effortlessly transform a suit
from business professional to business casual. For that reason, make sure
the top under your blazer is comfortable—and appropriate. Ladies—you
may think no one will see that cropped
top (or bandeau) under your jacket,
but be wary. What if you spill your
iced skinny caramel macchiato on your
jacket five minutes prior to your interview, but have no Tide-to-Go handy to
remove the stain? Or what if the AC is
broken and it’s 100° F in the office and
you have no choice but to remove your
blazer—or risk sweating through your
suit or suffering from heatstroke? Or
both? Armpit stains don’t look good on
anyone. Rule of thumb: Always expect
the unexpected, and wear decent clothes
underneath your suit.
To match your suit, you need pro-
fessional footwear. Men should invest
in a pair of dress shoes. Women have
a little more leeway with footwear, but
should stick to dark-colored, closed-
toed shoes. While some heel is fine (I’m
a proponent of the kitten heel)—any-
thing with a platform or stiletto should
be avoided. Flats are appropriate and
potentially more comfortable. Dark
boots are also an option—and can be
paired nicely with a skirt. You won’t
know how much walking you’ll have to
do on your interview—around the lab
or plant site—so comfort is key.
Because a suit may be too formal in
some settings, it’s not a bad idea to call
ahead and ask human resources what the
dress code is for interviews at specific
companies. For men, a sport coat, dress
pants, button-down shirt, and optional
tie is often appropriate in some interview
Tailoring: A few strategic alterations done by a skillful tailor can make
all the difference to the way a suit looks on an individual of either sex.
Good department stores often offer this service for free, but sometimes
there is a charge. A reputable drycleaner may also be able to recom-
mend a tailor. A well-placed adjustment or two can yield a huge payoff
for your overall look. Remember to allow time for alterations—they can
take several weeks.
Backup Plan: The truly prepared always keep a fresh shirt or blouse, tie
(for men), and stockings (for women) with them for emergencies.
Coordinated Accessories: You might also want to be aware of coordinating the color of your portfolio, bag, or brief case with your belt and shoes.
If you are unable to match everything, your shoes should always be the
darkest element of your outfit, to “ground” it visually.
Cuticle Care: Moisturizing your cuticles is another detail that can make
hands and nails look significantly neater for both men and women. There
are plenty of good cuticle creams on the market, but rubbing a little
Vitamin E or petroleum jelly into your cuticles before bed for several
nights will also do the job.
Neaten Hair: Control flyaway hairs by spritzing hair spray onto a boar-bristle brush and going lightly over your hair with it.
J. Crew’s Guide to Professional Dressing
Silk Pocket Blouse
Mougin & Piquard