Annalise knows style: Dressing for a professional interview

It’s not a secret that I love clothes. My friends will be the first to tell you stories of my “decade bins” filled with treasures from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s nestled delicately in my basement. When my friends call, I’m usually out shopping. It’s my favorite hobby and pastime. In my opinion, dressing is an art form and one’s best form of expression. Clothing can say a lot about an individual.

When my friend asked me to share some fashion ideas on her blog, I was excited. I now have an outlet which I can share my years of experience to help women… YAY! I wrote this week’s blog on “dressing for a professional interview” because it’s a question I get asked a lot. “What should I wear to the interview?”

So, you’ve made it past the stacks of resumes that your potential employer has received. Perhaps you aced a phone interview as well and you’re on to the final step, the dreaded in-person interview. I can’t tell you how to ace that. I CAN tell you that the attire that you choose to wear on that day can be a huge confidence boost. When you look in the mirror before the big interview, you should say “wow!” If you look great, you feel great – it’s true.

The number one thing I tell people is that they should feel comfortable. If you never wear wool, and you wear wool to the interview, you may itch. #awkward. If you don’t walk well in heels, this could break your stride – literally. You need to dress for your interview in your comfort zone, but professional. Below is a list of tips, based on experience and years of research, that I will bestow upon you. Listen up, ladies! I’m here to help.

List of NO NO’s

  • Flip flops or sandals- save these for the beach or a picnic. Your shoes should be polished or un-scuffed. I suggest investing in pair of patent leather pumps or flats because they don’t scuff. But, make sure you can walk in them and they’re comfortable. If your feet hurt, you hurt, and you’re not on you A-game.
  • Black suits. Absolute no-no. Unless you’re a chauffeur or undertaker, there is never an excuse for a black suit to be worn in public. I follow the men’s guide to fashion on this one. All well-dressed men never wear black suits. It’s taboo.
  • Leggings. Leggings with a sweater. Leggings with a dress. Leggings with a shirt dress. No leggings period. Although this is my uniform, I wouldn’t wear it to make my first impressions.

Other tips

  • Shoulder bearing dresses, strapless dresses or summer dresses with patterns aren’t a good idea. Although they may be flattering, they aren’t office attire. Shoulder bearing dresses are fine, if worn with a blazer or solid cardigan over top.
  • If your pants have belt loops – wear a belt!
  • Wear nude pantyhose to the interview if you’re wearing a dress. Trust me on this one.
  • Make sure that your clothes aren’t pilled and are free from wrinkles and stains. (Tip: Stop washing your clothes with towels, and avoid the dryer as much as possible.)

YES, YES’s

  • I always prefer a dress and a blazer. This is my go-to because it’s a perfect transition into an appropriate apres-work cocktail hour outfit. Bye-bye blazer and pantyhose, hello red lipstick and hot date!! Or in my case Taco Tuesday at Lloyd with my girlfriends.
  • Now I know I said black suits are a no-no, but a black blazer is a different story. Black blazers can be worn with gray or white pants, but don’t mix it with brown or black. A blazer is a timeless article of clothing that can be dressed up or dressed down.
  • Fitted trousers with a nice blouse and blazer
  • A blazer/skirt combo suit
  • A dressing suit
  • A pantsuit, if you must. I tend to stay away from a pantsuit because of the pricy cost.

Examples:

Diane Von Furstenburg Dress – purchased at Salvation Army for $6. This dress alone isn’t ok to wear to an interview, but pair it with a black blazer and Viola! You’ve got yourself an outfit!

Trina Turk – purchased at The Peddler for $11. These summer dresses might look flattering, but it’s best to stay away from bold prints/patterns and more revealing cuts.

This is one of my favorite dresses. It’s a Worth NY dress purchased at Salvation Army for $6. I paired with a pair of Kate Spade patent leather flats purchased at Clothes Mentor for $55. A great investment because I’ve had them for two years! Necklace was purchased at Second Chic for around $20.

This is my example of a pair of nicely pleated trousers, blazer, dress shirt & patent leather heels.

Pants – purchased at Loft on sale for $25. Blazer – purchased at Goodwill for $1. Dress shirt – purchased at Second Chic for $7. Stella McCartney patent leather heels – purchased at Second Chic for $30 Stella and Dot necklace – purchased at Clothes Mentor for $20.

Ok, ok. So you’re probably thinking “how the heck can I afford a brand new outfit if I don’t know that I have a job?” I’m all about recycling clothing. My most treasured and high-end designer pieces have been  purchased at consignment and thrift stores at a fraction, even pennies, of the cost of if I had purchased them at retail. If you have some time to hunt, you’ll save well earned money. You don’t need a million bucks to look like a million bucks.

Where do you shop?

Salvation Army – Every Wednesday enjoy half off on most tags. There’s a killer selection of pants, dresses, dress shirts, coats, blazers and shoes. This is where you’ll find the best quality for the price.

Goodwill – They have a color of the week tag that’s half off and $1 on Saturdays. See Ann Taylor Blazer above, that’s right, $1.

Clothes Mentor – Amazing selection of gently used clothing with newer labels. Nothing in the store is more than two years old. Shop on Tuesdays when you can earn double points!

The Peddler – Holy gold mine! Many amazing labels well priced. Did someone say “Missoni, Chloe, Gucci or St. John?” Thank you, Williamsville consignors!

Second Chic – A conglomeration of old, new and rare pieces. Their designer wall is phenomenal. I know, I bought my Louis Vuitton, Bottega Venetta and many DVF dresses there.

Clothing is just one important part of the interview. Go in there, show them your amazing accomplishments, willingness to succeed, and amazing attitude. You’ve made it this far, so give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You’ve got this, girl!

Annalise Freling 

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