Fashion Lifestyle

The DOs and DON’Ts of Corporate (Interview) Fashion

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I usually try to keep a neutral tone on this blog because there (usually) is no right or wrong when it comes to fashion. But I’m at the end of my rope! Every day I go to law school and I am appalled to see some of the things people, mostly women, wear to work/interviews/etc. with judges, attorneys, law firms. While most of the law kids dress quite dapper, there seems to always be one or two bad apples that ruin the bunch. For a bunch of so-called smart kids, they sure don’t know how to dress “smart.” 

 Here are my rules of corporate fashion, particularly as applied to interviews for corporate positions including but not limited to lawyer jobs:

1. DO wear a suit, even if the interviewer/boss/whoever tells you that the dress code is business casual. It’s best to wear a suit for your first impression because you only get ONE chance to make a first impression. After your first day at the job, you can assess the dress code in the environment and adjust accordingly. Rule of thumb: It’s better to be overdressed for a day than to live with the reputation of being a slob for the long-term. (P.S. A “shorts suit,” while cute, is not really a suit.)

2. DON’T wear a skirt with a slit so high up your leg that your upper thigh shows. I seriously can’t believe that this happens. Isn’t it common sense to not show your undies to the world, especially during a job interview? And yet, I’ve seen this enough times during my 2-year run at law school that it warrants a blog post. Dispicable.

(Salvatore Ferragamo Fall 2011. High-slit skirts belong on the runway, not at your next board meeting.)

3. DO add feminine touches to your suit, if you feel so inclined. An oxford with a ruffle, a simple bracelet, pearl earrings, heels, the list goes on and on. The key is to keep is simple. I have a hot pink silk shirt from The Limited that I wear under my suit to less formal meetings. For more formal ones, I swap the pink out for a classic oxford in white or light blue, add some pearl earrings and my favorite watch.

4. DON’T wear clothing that is too tight. Do yourself a favor and go up one more size. The number on the tag doesn’t mean anything. Proper fit is more important to looking great than fitting into a certain size. If you can’t stand the size on the tag, cut the tag out of the garment. A top is too tight and too revealing if there are open gaps between the buttons. Dress pants are too tight if they are pulling at the hips or crotch, and they are too tight in the waist if they are giving you the ever-dreaded muffin top. A skirt is too tight if it is pulling across your hips or thighs like this:

Trust me, just because you are able to squish your body into a size 2 skirt does NOT mean it looks good. On the contrary, wearing too-small clothing often makes your body appear larger.

 

5. DO take it easy on your make-up. The office is not the place to try out that new fluorescent blue eyeshadow you bought last weekend at the mall.

6. DO wear neutral or bare nails. My go-to nail color for interviews is Essie in Mademoiselle. A light nude or pink is perfect. Natural, polish-free nails are fine, too. As for the traditional white-tipped French mani, I can’t say it any better than Clinton Kelly (of What Not To Wear fame) once tweeted: “It’s not that I hate French manicures; it’s just that every porn star in the world has one.” Once considered classy, I, personally, think that traditional French manis have now crossed into stripper territory. Nevertheless, I would much prefer you wear a white-tipped mani to the office than this:
Speaking of strippers…
7. DON’T wear stripper shoes! Sparkly, 6-inch platform heels are not meant to be worn in a corporate workplace. It seriously blows my mind how many times I see classmates in the law library wearing a lovely suit with nice accessories, proper fit and proportions, and…. shoes like this:
Noooo! She was so close..and then…this. Please stick with a simple pump in a classic shape and color, such as black or nude.
I hope this helps guide you to appropriate and chic corporate wear for your next interview/job/meeting/etc. In closing, always remember these tips:
-You have to look the part in order to play the part. If you want to be treated like a professional, dress like one.
-If you have to ask whether something is appropriate, it’s probably not.
-If you have to ask whether something is too tight, it probably is.
-Classic silhouettes will never fail you.
-A well-tailored black (or navy) suit is a closet staple.
-Always dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

*All photos from Pinterest, except the ones of me, and the sparkly shoes, which came from Refinery 29 via Pinterest.

7 Comments

  • Reply
    Maria
    May 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

    This post is great! I love how entertaining and easy to read it is. I shall definitely be using some of these tips in future 🙂
    Lovely blog!
    xx Maria
    http://avenuemaria.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    Rachael
    May 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t think you have to worry about taking one for the team, you’re spot on! I completely agree. I notice the same thing in my professional work environment, too. One time, I had to tell a co-worker to sit differently because her skirt was way too short and I could see her butt, not her underwear, her butt.
    Everyone should take your advice!

    xoxo
    http://closet12.com

  • Reply
    Manvi Gandotra
    May 10, 2012 at 2:54 am

    great post! I can so relate this to a lot of people in office! Nice blog 🙂

    Styleinked

  • Reply
    Sugar and Chiffon
    April 28, 2012 at 1:06 am

    You’re welcome! And I totally agree about noisy wrist-wear. I think a simple pair of earrings and a classic watch are the only pieces of jewelry you need!

  • Reply
    Queen Bee of Beverly Hills
    April 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you thank you for this post! I agree with Stephanie go easy on the jewelry especially if you tend to talk with your hands. The clanging and jingle of your bangles can be distracting. 🙂

  • Reply
    Katy @ Sugar and Chiffon
    April 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Ha! I agree! Your suggestions are good, and funny! Perhaps someone should start her own blog??? I’d read it!

  • Reply
    stephanie
    April 24, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Yes! I wish I could post this on a few peoples’ foreheads.

    An interview/law firm is not the place for leopard, glitter, neon, or spandex. Sorry. You entered the legal profession, not the escort business. You want the person to remember your personality, smarts, and be able to trust you … not wonder if a client is going to sexually harass you.

    Also. If I may, I suggest that no one overdo the jewelry. Brass knuckles are never okay unless you are Ice-T. I’m kind of over the pearl necklace and severe ponytail for an interview too. Trying too hard to look smart is different from dressing smart.

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