I usually do not have a problem deciding what to wear. In fact, I’m quite adept at finding exactly what I am looking for on the seemingly infinite Internet. I’m a ShopStyle of sorts, a personal Polyvore. I am tempted to list “online shopping” among my skills on LinkedIn.
This past summer, my roommate texted me in desperation. She had been lusting after blue silk shorts since the weather began warming up, but all the ones she stumbled upon were too synthetic. Within a few minutes, I sent her a link to a Tibi pair in the perfect shade of royal blue. Dressed down, they would add texture to the Grassroots uniform of loose cotton tanks, leather sandals and ubiquitous Ray Ban shades. But worn with a blazer and sleek wedges, they would elevate an outfit for an après-internship drink at the Hudson Terrace. I felt successful.
When I was tasked with buying business attire for upcoming interviews, I naturally looked forward to hitting the racks. My Rho Gamma duties saved me from figuring out what “snappy casual” really means, and I had no reason to rock a pencil skirt since a Mad Men-themed dinner party. Plus, with professional purpose on my side, my mother would be more likely to fund my new attire.
I would like to enter a creative industry, so I gathered silk shift dresses, suede mary jane wedges and bright satchels to tote laptops. I selected my favorite Kate Spade bangles with cheeky messages inscribed inside. After a meeting with Career Services and some laughs from my more career-savvy friends, I realized that my cacophony of color would not cut it in an interview setting.
“You can dress like that once you get the job,” my fairy godmother in Career Services assured. “For now, you’ll have to wear neutrals, cover your arms and bring out the pearls.”
Dreams of sherbet skirts with chambray button-downs and skinny, leopard print belts out the window, I realized I only had a week to order and ship new items in time for my interview today. With that, here are some tips I gleaned this week:
Wear a structured, solid dress. The more simple your base, the less distracting and likely you will be to offend your interviewer. You will not know if your interviewer supports the growing popularity of paisley, so better be safe than sorry. Dresses should hit the knee and fit. If there’s anything I learned from Gwenyth Paltrow’s Tom Ford Oscar gown, cut is much more important than color. I recommend the Theory “Mendisa Coco” tweed dress or the J.Crew “Origami” dress in black.
Bring a blazer. With structured dresses, blazers should be shorter than the ones you would throw over jeans — ideally resting on the hip. Black, navy, gray, tweed and nude are safe choices, but burgundy or blush pink could work as well if you are bored of the basics. If your structured dress has an irregular neckline, opt for a cardigan so that the lapel of the blazer does not clash.
Pair a pencil skirt with a silk blouse. Even underlayers, such as the tanks or sweaters you wear beneath blazers, should be made of high-quality fabrics. If you want to introduce a print into your outfit, the shirt you wear with a blazer and pencil skirt fits that opportunity. Everything else in this scenario should be a neutral color.
Pull on the pants. Fitted dress pants with a button down and blazer errs on the bland side, but is a plausible option as long as you do not flash any ankle.
As Lauren Conrad famously said, “The only person who can pull off a kitten heel is Suri Cruise.” I agree with LC — kitten heels evoke too many memories of fifth grade dances. That said, towering platforms do not scream maturity either. Settle in the middle with a two to three inch heel. Judging by the fashion photographer frenzy over Jenna Lyons’ New York Fashion Week pumps, the pointed toe is in. I recommend Nine West’s “Flax” heel.
Use your discretion. The reason I do not list a suit as one of the options that I considered is because I would not feel comfortable wearing one. Besides the Carven spring 2012 short suits and Alexa Chung’s Met Ball ensemble in 2010, suits just don’t … suit me. I know I would feel uncharacteristic wearing one, and in an interview, you want to harness your confidence and avoid anything that will induce insecurity. The guidelines I laid out are merely suggestions, and it is you who should ultimately tailor them to your style.
Margo Cohen Ristorucci is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com. Fashion Friday appears on Fridays.