Ah, the job interview. Probably the one of the most intimidating events in life. All eyes are on you, what you say, do, & obviously what’s on your back. Everything is going to be taken into consideration, & you will be judged on whether or not an employer thinks your qualified for the job. Maybe you’re on a tight budget, or even unemployed, but still need to look good. So what do you wear? And where do you shop?
First what you should wear:
-A suit. You don’t have to buy a whole matching suit, but all you really need are a nice pair of pants, & a matching blazer. And the great thing with separates is that you can always mix & match your pieces. Another option: In the warmer months you could also go with a skirt, and the BEST length is knee length. They can be fitted / flared, but the best skirt to wear to match your tops? A pencil skirt. Get one that matches your blazer & you’re good to go!
-Blouses / Tailored shirts. Find ones that are professional (as in not too revealing) that match with your blazer & pants. I feel this is where you can be creative in the interview outfit; for you can get them in whatever prints you’d like. A good investment: Wrinkle free shirts / blouses. Sometimes you find out last minute that an employer wants you to come into tomorrow for an interview. You don’t need to break out the ironing board; & the wrinkle free shirts takes the pressure off you & it’s one less thing for you to worry about.
-Professional shoes. No sneakers, but they must be shoes that are closed toed. Whether they’re flats, mary janes, pumps, find shoes that are appropriate for working environment. And employers DO notice.
Fashion dos & don’ts:
-DON’T: Wear loud, neon colors, or prints. You don’t want to show up at a job interview wearing neon yellow. You want the employer to focus on you, your skills, not be distracted by what you’re wearing. You want to be remembered in a good way, not how loud your clothes are. I think it’s also best to stay away from animal prints on an interview. Not that I’m against animal prints, but they are hard to pull off on an interview. DO: You can wear prints, like a floral or a paisley, or something that has some sort of interesting construction detail, i.e. like pleating.
-DON’T Wear anything too revealing. No cleavage, anything sheer, or back baring tops. This is the time to be modest & professional.
-DON’T wear obnoxious printed pants. One time I saw a girl wear printed leopard leggings at a career fair. It’s like come on! You’d be surprised at how some people just lack professionalism. I do like animal prints, but here they are just garish.
-Fashion Do! Solid pants are always a safe bet, & like I said, no loud or neon colors. There are some printed pants that are lovely, but it is slightly risky on a job interview. If you’re a girl that loves them, stick to a print that’s safe, that matches your blazer. The criss-cross print would go nicely with a black blazer, other safe prints would be like a pin stripe or houndstooth.
Fashion don’t: broken nails
-DON’T Have broken / chipped nails. Employers notice this, too, if you have chunks of paint on your nails. It seems like a small detail, but you want to make the best first impression, & having that implies that you are either lazy / not detail oriented. Neither of which are good. DO: Get a manicure, but no crazy colors. Light pink, nudes, sheer white, or a french manicure are the best colors to go with. Don’t have time? You can just go clear, or leave them bare. (That’s fine as well) Just make sure they are all even & neatly filed down.
Fashion Do: a nice manicure, or well groomed nails
Fashion don’t: big jewelry
-DON’T Wear statement jewelry. I know, I love statement jewelry but this is not the time to be showing off your bling. No chandelier earrings, or long draped necklaces. DO: Here jewelry must be subtle & small; like a strand of pearls, or just small studs in your ears. A good tip: This is a great time to wear a watch. Again, be professional, if you choose one, choose one that looks like a bracelet, or even a mens’ watch. It does add a slight touch of sophistication, & actually gives you a nod to be more punctual.
Fashion Do: wear a watch
Fashion don’t: Anything out of the ordinary with your hair
Fashion don’t: DON’T do anything crazy with your hair. It can be up or down, in a pony tail / bun (that doesn’t matter) but no dreadlocks, crazy colors (think pink or blue). Again, you want to look well polished, & not distract the interviewer.
Where to shop:
These are the places I go when I need some professional clothes for an interview. What I think is the most important investment? The blazer. If you take care of it properly, (as in dry clean) one blazer can last you a long time.
–Forever21: This trendy store now offers work friendly pieces! They have sections on blouses, & blazers.
-H&M: This budget friendly store also has a section dedicated to blazers, & they always have a wide variety of pants. If you haven’t checked out another post I wrote, that you can get 15% off at H&M every time you shop there, as long as you donate a piece of clothing. (It can be anything you want to give away, even a towel). If you’re in need of some professional attire, use that 15% off to your advantage!
–Ideel.com & Hautelook.com: These addictive shopping websites specialize in weeklong sales, & offer designer things on sale. You have to join their membership, (don’t worry they’re free) & they almost always have a section dedicated to work wear. Sign up & check it out! Just keep in mind, that usually their sales are a week, & then it’s over.
These below stores quite often have coupons / sales. Always check out retailmenot.com, do a search on the store, & check out all the coupon codes! Never buy anything full price! And I always say, if you can wait, bookmark your favorite items, & wait for them to go on sale!
–New York and Company: One of my favorite stores. I buy lots of my staples there; but most importantly I always get my professional attire there. And the great thing about them? They always have sales / coupons! Quite often I go there & I don’t need to go anywhere else for suits!
–Jcpenney: They have lots of choices for you too! They also have friends & family sales so you can get a further discount.
–Macy’s: They almost always have sales! And they have over 1,000 items for you to choose from! And for Macy’s there’s always a coupon floating around, whether it be online, or in your local newspaper.
–Banana Republic: They are good for blazers, & their non-iron shirts. They are probably not the most budget friendly store on this list (a blazer could be $100), but each piece is a good investment & will last you awhile. Sign up for that email & get that discount! And always check out for a coupon code to save yourself money!
I wrote this article mainly because there were times in the past, when I was on a really tight budget, but yet needed to search for a job. What is a girl to do? Here you reap the rewards of my research. Look good, but most importantly, shop smart.