The rules for professional attire are not always as clear-cut for women as they are for men. The Moi-Même Guide to Professional Attire for Women seeks to demystify womens careerwear for the office and provide some guidance in regards to what to wear to an interview.
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A Note to Career Services Offices
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The objective of any job interview is to receive
an offer of employment. Your appearance during
an interview can give you confidence and improve
the likelihood of being selected for the position by
accomplishing four things:
Demonstrating you are the consummate
professional; you are exactly the sort of woman
they would be comfortable putting in front of a
customer or senior leadership team
Focusing the interviewer’s attention on what you
are saying, not what you are wearing
Showing you understand etiquette and have
researched the industry for which you are
Reaffirming that you are serious about this
interview and truly interested in working for
PREPARING FOR THE BIG DAY
Remove any “x” shaped tacking stitches the
tailor added to the vents of the jacket and skirt
and any labels stitched on the outside of your
sleeve (these tags are intended to be detached
Send all pieces of your suit to the cleaners, so
they will be laundered, de-linted and pressed
well in advance of your interview
Carefully inspect for dangling threads, buttons
that may need reinforcing, tears and stains
With the skinny pant giving way to the wide-leg
trouser and cross-over confusion between
menswear and womenswear, it may seem that
everything is upside-down. But do not
be fooled; even in fashion, some things are
timeless. And that is why we bring you the Moi-Même Guide to
Professional Attire for Women.
Smart suit separates are the essential centerpiece of the professional wardrobe. Here’s what you should look for:
Well-fitted and tailored. Get a suit made to measure for your
body or take an off-the-rack garment to the tailor for nips and
tucks. A well-fitted suit creates a chic silhouette that flatters your
body - helping you feel your most confident and professional.
Never, never, never sacrifice fit for price or brand name.
Quality fabric. High-quality natural-fiber fabrics wear better and
last longer than lower-quality synthetics. Natural fibers also
“breathe” - keeping you cool under pressure. Seek a wool blend
with a smooth finish that repels lint. Avoid shell/exterior fabrics
with synthetic-fiber content (e.g. acetate or polyester) that
Color that does not overpower. A color that looks great in a
blouse does not necessarily flatter when worn head-to-toe as a
suit. For interviews, stick to black, charcoal or navy. Look for
hues that compliment your hair color and skin tone.
Solids or sophisticated patterns. You simply can not go wrong
with a rich, solid-colored fabric. Subtle vertical stripes can be very
sophisticated and visually elongate your frame - making you
appear taller and leaner. Be certain to check the seam in the back
of the jacket to ensure the pattern lines up across the right and
left side of the body.
Timeless style. For pants, nothing is more timeless than a
tailored trouser-leg. For skirts, you can’t go wrong with a pencil
or a sleek A-line. The hem should fall at or just below the knee.
Mix-and-match-ability. Stretch your budget by electing pieces
that go together; consider the three-piece suit: jacket, pants and
skirt. Just be sure to launder all pieces of the same fabric and
color together - so they wear evenly.
If the suit is the canvas, the accessory is the paint.
When you start with a well-fitted, clean cut suit, accessorizing
is simply about adding personal touches to an already
Shirts. For interviews and conservative workplaces, look for
long-sleeved tailored blouses in a color or small print that
coordinates with your suit jacket. Add some flair with French
cuffs, a v-neckline or special buttons. In less conservative
workplaces, you might consider a short-sleeved blouse or a
fine-gauge, quality knit shell in a natural-fiber fabric. Even in
the most creative workplace, it is not appropriate to show
Shoes. Regardless of what is in style, avoid strappy stilettos,
platforms or sandals. A good pair of closed-toe pumps is
suitable for every situation and peek-a-boo pumps are great in
less traditional workplaces (just remember to pedicure!). Make
certain you can walk comfortably and confidently in your shoes.
Once you have selected a great pair of shoes, take them to the
tailor to have your pants hemmed accordingly.
Jewelry. Keep it simple; avoid anything that dangles and
distracts. If a belt loop is available, use it. A classic timepiece
is always a good idea, but be aware: watch prices can vary
greatly, so make sure the price of your watch sends the
message you would like to convey (i.e. perhaps best to leave
the diamond-studded wristwatch at home if you fundraise for
Scarves. A scarf can really liven up a solid-colored suit. When
you buy a scarf, look for a print and color that is not distracting
and ask the salesperson to teach you a few different ways to
Hosiery. If you are wearing a skirt, then nylons are a necessity
for interviews and conservative workplaces. Buy a few sheer
pairs that match your skin tone.
Beauty. Wear neutral make-up that enhances your natural
beauty, avoiding caked matting and bright colors; save the
fire-engine red lipstick and dark kohl shadow for the cocktail
hour. Avoid perfume for interviews and use it only sparingly
(some perfumes may cause your colleagues to sneeze from
allergies). Keep a neat, professional hairstyle and groom