As someone who has worked in fashion for ten years on the whole, I’ve done my fair share of interviews for writing, styling, blogging, design assistant and teaching positions. This couples with the fact that I dress women for interviews and jobs at Smart Works means I know a thing or two about interview dressing, especially in the fashion department.
Since we’re in this together, I thought I’d share a few tips on dressing for fashion interviews that I’ve picked up along the way so you put your best foot forward and are one step ahead of the crowd when you walk into that meeting room. Trust me, you’ll need the extra boost of confidence the perfect outfit can bring in the crucial moments that follow.
The best thing about working in fashion is that you don’t need to show up to work in grey, black, white and navy formal wear. You’re encouraged to experiment with trends and put your own stamp on things as long as you look polished and professional. You are here to work, after all.
Steer clear of anything too sexy. Save the skin for the celebration after you’ve actually gotten the job. If you’re wearing a skirt and want to go bare-legged, the appropriate length would be an anywhere between an inch above to an inch below your knee. If its a shorter skirt you’re feeling, tights underneath are the way to go. Also, it goes without saying, but cleavage is off limits. You don’t want to be giving a prospective employer the wrong impression.
I personally believe that it is very easy to fall into a black and white rut when it comes to interview dressing. However, a fashion interview is all about showing your interviewers that you’re not afraid to take a few risks. Safe can sometimes be boring, so don’t be afraid to mix a little colour into your outfit. If a bright colour isn’t for you, a sophisticated burgundy or deep teal may be your calling card. Just remember to not mix too many colours into your look and remember to apply the same principle to your prints. It’s your credentials they’re looking out for, not your colour / print blocking skills.
Some styles I tend to reach for before an interview are a black skirt and printed shirt, a coloured pant or skirt suit, a pair of grown up printed trousers, a jumpsuit with a blazer over it or a sleek shift dress. Here are some perfect examples of what I mean on Olivia Palermo.
Jewellery is very personal and it usually makes a very bold statement about you, which can be fairly distracting to an interviewer. I’d leave your chunky necklaces, no matter how sophisticated, for regular work days. For an interview, however, I’d suggest sticking to dainty pieces that add a hint of sparkle and say you’ve made an effort, without being the focal point of your meeting.
If you’re adding a belt to your outfit for a flattering cinched waist and a bit of structure, go right ahead. Just pick one that isn’t too distracting and balance it out by not wearing a necklace, but opting instead for subtle earrings or bracelets.
A good watch looks professional and gives the impression that time is important to you, and so punctuality and deadlines will be too.
There’s nothing I love more than a massive big, black bag which looks incredibly chic but is secretly my home away from home where I stash flats, water, an umbrella, beauty supplies…I could go on all day. However, sometimes it can leave you digging and fumbling around for little things that fall to the very bottom (like pens or your glasses), which can look fairly unprofessional in an interview scenario.
I’ve recently switched to carrying medium sized bags which have me carrying a file with my portfolio and CV in my hand. One single file and a fuss-free bag in tow look crisp, professional and like you’re ready to get down to business. Alternatively, I sometimes load my CV and entire writing portfolio onto my iPad mini, and just carry a bag that is big enough to house it. It shows good organization skills and that you’re forward thinking and technology savvy, which is never a bad thing in this day and age.
Essential items you must have on-hand in your bag during an interview are a pen, your glasses if you wear them, a physical copy of your CV if you’ve decided to go down the iPad route (just in case your employer hasn’t had the chance to print out a copy and needs something to refer to), the lipstick you’ve chosen to wear for touch-ups and a compact so you don’t look shiny mid-interview. Also, breath mints that aren’t in chewing gum form.
Your favourite six-inch pumps that look soooo good on a night out? Leave them at home today. Yes, I mean it. While its great to want to wear heels to an interview (it looks polished, professional, shows you made an effort and does wonders for your posture), it is more important to pick a pair of shows you can actually walk in. Set a 3-inch maximum rule to stride with confidence rather than looking like a baby deer learning how to walk.
On another note, in case you didn’t already know, it is perfectly acceptable to wear flats to a fashion interview, too. Just make sure they’re dressy and look like you made an effort like these, these or these.
And last but not least, because I feel like its necessary I say this, while knowing your designer brands is important when you work in fashion, it is a common misconception that you need to wear designer clothes to a fashion interview or you won’t be hired. Let me just nip that myth in the bud – you could be dressed head to toe in designer duds, but it won’t up your chances in the slightest, because only your credentials count. If you know how to mix and match, put together a good outfit and look well turned out on the day of your interview, it won’t matter if you’re wearing high end or high street. All you need to remember is that even the toughest bosses in the highest positions own something they love in their closets that they bought for a song.
If you have any more questions on breaking into the business of fashion or requests for posts related to this topic, leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help! Now use this as ammo and go nail that interview! Break a leg!