Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Interview Attire

As you may know, I am currently unemployed. My temporary position ended and it's hard for lawyers all over the country to find a job and a little harder than average in Maine. I'm working hard maintaining and improving my skills by volunteering. I am doing research into hanging out my own single and applying for jobs. So I've been thinking about interviews a lot.

First! Put on your confidence. This is the part I struggle. To compensate for my nervousness and shyness I read all I can about my interviewer and about the company or position I have applied for. Often times there's not much. It doesn't seem like anyone over 30 here uses LinkedIn. I also think about what questions I might be asked and prepare responses and practice them. Since I'm the kind of person who never has questions, I think of some ahead of time. Google your name and try to clean up you online presence.

If possible, leading up to the interview I am more rigorous with my beauty routine so that I don't have a bad skin day the day of my interview. (I feel as though I am plauged by acne even though I'm 27 and 1/3 years old.) For the interview I wear make up but not too much, just enough to cover up any acne and minimize the dark circles under my eyes. I think wearing too much make up makes me look younger and more immature so I don't do it.

Next! Dress with confidence.

My Interview Suit

I am a lawyer and the law is very conservative. You may be able to wear a more exciting interview outfit if you work in a field that isn't more or less the same as it was in 1850, for example the biggest change is that now women can be lawyers. I always wear a dark colored skirt suit, sheer hose, pumps, a watch, and my pearls.

While I love my green suit, I would not wear it to an interview.

My interview suit is a black skirt suit. It is not wool; I do not wear wool suits since they irritate my sensitive skin. Any dark colored suit should work fine. I would hesitate to wear a pink suit to an interview since I am not Elle Woods. I bought my suit at Ann Taylor my junior year of college. It still fits decently but I am thinking about getting a new interview suit in a larger size. (I'll probably look at Talbots for a new interview suit since I think they are the best for work clothes.) Fit is truly important. If you can afford it, have your suit tailored especially if you aren't built like a mannequin.

A Button Front that WILL NOT
Behave Before a Big Interview!
So Wrinkly and Rumpled

What shirt to wear underneath your suit? I used to wear a white button front shirt. But, I hated that I felt like I always had to adjust it so that the collar would stay straight and they would never stay tucked in for me. Sometimes the buttons gape. Button front shirts are hard for curvy/busty women.

I've started wearing blouses and sweaters instead so that I have less to worry about. I don't have to worry about the collar and they stay tucked in so much better. I usually choose white or cream but if an interview is less formal I'll go with a brighter solid because bright colors make me happy. I don't want the interviewer to be distracted by my crazy Lilly print blouse. I also try to stick with modestly cut tops for similar reasons.  I am thinking of getting a body suit so that my shirt stays tucked in. I like the Scribe from Bradamant

This Blouse is a Perfect Pairing for Suits
I wore my interview suit and a pretty floral
blouse to my swearing in ceremony in Maine.
However, I probably would not wear this
to an interview because it is a print.

I pretty much only wear skirt suits. I like my skirts to stop right above the knee or right below it (I'm tall so I can pull off long skirts easily). I think that they are more formal and conservative, thus more appropriate for an interview. Pants suits are probably okay for women, it is the 21st century after all, but better safe than unemployed.

It is also believe that skirts are far more flattering for most women. I have a hard time finding pants that fit since I am curvy and need tall sizes. I think pants can end up looking too sexy on me and other women who store their extra fat in their behind. On the flip side pants look baggy and unflattering on women who have the opposite problem. Skirts look professional and great on everyone. I tend to favor a-line skirts over pencil skirts because they are an easier fit since they are not supposed to hug your hips.

If you want to wear pants read this advice about how to fit pants at Corporette. (I love Corporette for info about what to wear to work.) If you regularly wear pants suits or you feel uncomfortable wearing skirts you should wear a pant suit to your interview so that you can be comfortable and so you don't end up some place where you are expected to wear a skirt suit all the time.

ALWAYS wear pantyhose, especially if you wear a skirt suit. (When I wear pants I wear pantyhose under them for extra warmth and to smooth things out. I save my pantyhose with runs in them for wearing under pants.) If you are wearing a skirt suit get nice sheer pantyhose, not cheap ones from the drug store, and make sure they match your skin tone. Hanes makes some in a variety of skin colors. Carry a spare pair just in case the ones you are wearing begin to run. (I needed my spare before my last interview.) I a manicure and pedicure, one at home is just fine) can help prevent runs because there are no rough nails or heels for the hose to snag on.

I always order my pantyhose a size up because they are more comfortable that way and because I think it helps keep them from running. You can also get non-control top pantyhose which are what I wear most days because they are more comfortable. When I will be wearing pantyhose for a long time I always wear a camisole or a long underwear shirt to tuck into my pantyhose into so that the top doesn't dig into my skin. I also recommend commando tights and pantyhose if you are of average height since they have no dig waistbands. They are like wearing nothing. But, their tights seem not to stay up on my legs but I think that is because my legs are freakishly long. They do not have a wide range of skin tones though so their sheer "nude" pantyhose do not work for me.

As to other foundational garments, I would recommend making sure your bra fits (now is not the time for quad boob) and does not show through your top. If you are wearing a white blouse you should wear a nude for you bra and you might want to wear a camisole with your blouse. If you have wide bra straps you should get a camisole with a wide strap that covers your bra strap. I usually wear a thong because I do not want any VPL issues. I find hanky panky thongs to be relatively comfortable and I find thongs to be more comfortable when I wear pantyhose with them. I assume my interviewers assume that I wear underwear but I don't want them to see it. Underwear is unprofessional in my opinion so it should be absolutely invisible and undetectable.

Do I look smarter with glasses? Do I look smarter when my
glasses  are all smudged up and dirty? As they always are.
I think all that matters is that I think I look smarter.

I wear wear a watch so I know what time it is without looking at my phone and so that my interviewers perceive that I am conscious and mindful of the passage of time. I always wear pearls, even to interviews. They are classic and mine were law school graduation presents. I would caution against wearing a lot of jewelry because you might fidget with it or it might distract your interviewer. Possible thoughts: how does she lift her wrist with that huge stack or will she be serious about work if she can afford those huge gem stones? Sometimes I wear my glasses since I think they make me look smarter but I'm not sure if that's actually the case.

My Interview Shoes. I only wear them for Interviews.

I have nice black pumps from the Cole Haan outlet with almost 3" heels. I make sure I keep my nice shoes clean and in good repair. I wipe them off  with a damp cloth if they get dirty and use a leather conditioner on them occasionally. With my hair and my heels I am 6 feet tall and I tower over everyone. Since I almost never wear heels, I always practice walking in my heels a few days beforehand. Sometimes I wear my nicest black ballet flats for less formal interviews, especially if there will be cobblestones, lots of walking, lots of standing, ice, stairs, or short men. 

I love this Purse! You can only get them at the kate spade outlets now.

I love my kate spade quinn bag for interviews because it's very nice but very simple. It is just big enough to hold my essentials and a pad folio for holding my notes for myself. I would try to find a nice simple purse/mini-briefcase to carry. (I like this one from Target.) I try to accessorize appropriately for the weather. If it's cold I wear a coat and gloves. If it's raining I bring an umbrella.

I got this London Fog Trench Coat before my Freshman Year of College!
It still fits! I love it and I'm wearing it more now that my wool coat is broken.

I try to wear a nice coat to my interviews if it it is cold enough for a coat. I used to have a nice black wool coat but it got ruined at the dry cleaners. They shrunk the sleeves! My next big purchase will likely be a full length L.L. Bean Polo Coat (warm to -25º) since I prefer that my coat go longer than my skirt and because I am always cold.

I had an interview last Thursday. The high that day was 17º and it was 7º when I left my house that morning. Burrrr! I spent the Monday before in a panic. (That you may have noticed if you follow me on twitter.) What do you wear to an interview when it is so cold out that you cannot breath the air? (I exaggerate slightly. My asthma isn't bad but when it gets to be below 20º I can't walk outside briskly without wheezing or coughing.) I was worried I'd look silly going into an interview with just pantyhose to keep my legs warm. I imagined my interviewers thinking: How will this girl make it in Maine if she's not smart enough to dress appropriately for the weather? I called ahead to confirm the time and asked if there was a place to keep my warm boots while I interviewed.

Thursday's OOTD
This coat is rated to -50º. I wear it when
the high for the day is below freezing.
I love my coat. Thank you L.L. Bean.

Fortunately it wasn't snowing on Thursday and the pavement was dry (probably because it was too cold for liquid anything). I wore a cream sweater and silk long underwear. I ended up wearing leggings and boots over my pantyhose on the way up. I stopped by my old office for a chat and took off my leggings there. Then, I parked right outside the office where I had the interview and switched shoes. I walked in. I thought I looked kind of silly with my almost bare legs and pumps sticking out from underneath my warmest coat but I didn't look as silly as someone with vanity induced hypothermia.

The interview went better than usual (which isn't saying much since after my interview last interview for permanent position where I temped one of my interviewers suggested that I consult with my doctor regarding a prescription for an anxiety medication but I had a horrible eczema rash that day that made me feel so uncomfortable) and they hope to select a candidate by Christmas.

I probably think about what I wear to interviews way more than is necessary. But, its one part of the process that I have near complete and total control over. So knowing I have my outfit locked down helps keep me calmer than I would be otherwise. Do you think about what to wear during interviews obsessively like I do? Do you have any preinterview rituals to help you stay calm?

UPDATE: Classy (@classylady27 on Twitter) tweeted at me and let me know that men think that pants suits aren't as formal as skirt suits. I guess men feel that if they have to wear an uncomfortable tie women should have to wear uncomfortable pantyhose but what they don't know is that our shoes likely hurt our feet more than enough to compensate for the discomfort of wearing a tie.

Thought the interview went well, I was not called back for a second interview and was not offered the position. 


  1. love this advice, love your green and black suits! best of luck finding your new job :)!

  2. Great outfits!


  3. Love those outfits! It's business and good business! Also my friend and I always say that someone wearing hose is in it to win it! What kind of law do you practice?

    1. I had been doing work enforcing the fair housing act but I'm trying to get into tax law or I'll hang out my own shingle and have a small town general practice.


Thank you so much for reading! I read all comments and I try to reply to all of them if I can! If you want me to email you a reply to your comment go to your Blogger profile, select show your email address and put in your email address.