A Ladies Quick Guide

What to Wear to the Interview2

Ladies, let’s be blunt.  What your mother should have explained to you in those early and impressionable years is that aside from it being a very cruel planet, nothing is more critical to long-term sustainability for a woman than looking good.  Even more so in business, which means your daytime armor had better be on point when tackling your new future.

The Official Temp girl is in charge, and being in charge means the right dress-code – and it does matter, especially to the hiring side.  Don’t believe us?  As we pointed out to the men in their same section, there’s a little fact that you better get familiar with right now:  65% of employers say that between two identical candidates with the exact same experience, they will always hire the better dresser.  Not maybe, always.

If you had the good fortune of attending at least one private school, then you get the whole mindset to uniforms and coordinated dressing.  Even if you were raised a semi-WASP, having attended the ballet with your parents on occasion, chances are you’ve got a grasp on what to wear.  The rest of you – read on.

You don’t have to have a Birkin Bag, a Chanel jacket, or strive to clone yourself after Anna Wintour, also known in fashion circles as Nuclear Wintour, but you are going to need to learn about business style that goes beyond a label or a pattern stamped to death on wallets and purses.  So listen up gals, we are going to show you how to select some stellar interview essentials, your starter-kit, if you will, for your business wardrobe that will carry you straight to acing the interview, and quite possibly being asked to join “the team” for happy hour later that day – them picking up the check, of course.

THE SUIT
The corporate world for women really has not changed that much, so here’s a MUST to ponder when looking for a parking spot at the mall – keep it conservative.  Just like the men, the stores you are going to want to hit first would include Nordstrom’s Rack, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor for sure, Brooks Brothers (if you are lucky enough to have one in your area), and even an Express.  For the record, we think H&M is really gaining speed into the more wearable work clothing.

When selecting your suit, stick with dark — Navy blue or a deep charcoal gray.

THE SKIRT
Go for the short-skirt.  This is a classic starter, with a slight A-line shape, usually with a couple darts in the front, and a very small break in the back at the bottom of the hem, no more than 2”.  The hemline should always come just above the knee, and if you can find the higher wasted skirts that rise up above your waste-line, hovering just around the navel – grab it.  They shape a woman beautifully and show a real flare of sophistication.  And like anything, the material should be a wood blend, and something that won’t wrinkle when your sitting.  Gabardine is always our favorite word.  Ann Taylor could be your first stop on this hunt.  They do have an awesome selection of women’s business essentials.

THE JACKET
Unless you are purchasing a jacket-skirt combo, let’s review a few tips on the top half.  What you need to look for is a two button jacket, straight cut, with a notched collar, chest pocket, and flapped front pockets.  Look for jackets with Princess seams that lead to a cutaway hem.  These jackets are killer.

The second choice is the single button jacket, but be careful with lengths.  Always keep your jackets just above your hipline.  This particular jacket is young, fresh, and really helps to show your curve without you looking cheap.  Like the skirt, the materials and colors should ALWAYS match – and never be afraid to run it to your tailor as quickly as possible.  The amount spent in dollars will be priceless if a jacket looks cut to order.

THE BLOUSE
As a rule, it’s always best to offset the intensity of dark colors with a complimentary.  Anything white or in a blush color will be ideal, keep the blush color for Navy, the white for the dark grey.  And you have to make it silk, that’s all there is to it.  A little debt here will be worth it.  Be sure it is properly loose, nicely cut, complimentary, and either button-down or slip-over, even with a slight collar, but no deep plunge lines.  Please.

ACCESSORIES
PEARLS!  A good strand of double, medium gage, and close to the neck without being a choker.  This is a mandatory staple for the Official Temp gal, so go out and get yourself a nice pair – there are some amazing imitations out there – but just keep your mouth shut about it.  It’s all about perception, because you can always make your perception a reality – right?

Earrings?  Keep them so simple that they are almost non-descript.  Tiny pearl studs are the best choice and safest way to go, unless you have some really cute small gold hoops.  And we MEAN small!  The rest, keep them on your earring rack above your nightstand.  Most of that crap is for night crawling anyway.  And if you have diamond studs – shove them in your ears as fast as you can when you get out of the shower, and don’t look back!

Bracelets?  No.  Take every one of them off.  You don’t want the interviewer thinking to themselves, “I wonder if she can type with those?”

Rings?  No.  Just no.  Don’t make us say it.

Nails.  A tasteful length, a SOLID color, no designs, and keep the color to a blush or a tasteful red.  Not hooker red, nice red.  And no French tips.  Those were very 2010.

PERFUME
NEVER.  No interviewer needs an asthma attack when they’re just trying to fill a position, and Official Temps don’t choke others out of oxygen in elevator rides, nor marinate themselves in a vat of cheap perfume thinking they smell beautiful.  It’s no.  Never.  Ever.  Don’t wear it.  Good soap.  That’s your perfume.

SHOES
Like diamonds, shoes are a girl’s best friend.  Here you can have a great time with shoes, but again, less is more, except for expense, and you must maintain a few guidelines because the shoes can make or break a deal when it comes to interviews, and people can always spot a cheap pair of shoes the minute they drop their eyes on them.  So, if you have been successful cutting some financial corners on the suit, your shoes are just going to have to lean in the direction of expensive.  Again, your mother should have told you long ago – you can tell everything about a woman from three things:  Her wedding ring, her handbag, and her shoes.  We told you, it’s a cruel world.

Get to Nordstrom’s Rack or DSW for sure to make the first pass on hunting.  If nothing can be found at either store, be brave, pay the $10 for street parking, and get to a nearby Barney’s Outlet, or a Saks Fifth Avenue, sale rack only.  Sorry ladies, it’s just the way it goes.  Heavy is the head that wears the tiara.

As much as we love slides, you’re going to have to stick with the classic business pump.  But the good news – there is such an array to choose from, you can get your creative juices flowing.

That’s where we stop today, but fret not.  Next issue we will be getting a bit more hardcore in the preparation – including haircuts and proper etiquette. But until then, hit your local Loft, Banana Republic, and if your budget allows splurge on Theory and Alice & Olivia. You’re so close to getting that contract – so you better put your best looking foot forward.  Make that best pump.

See you soon!

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