For most law students, like myself, finding a job is no easy task. Aside from securing interviews, informational interviews are a great way to get your foot in the door by establishing a connection with people whose careers you admire. Recently, I established a few informational interviews with people who have achieved great success working in-house for fashion corporations. Yes, I was (and still am) very happy that they decided to take a few minutes from their incredibly hectic schedules to meet with me, but I freaked out upon the thought of what I should wear to these meetings. As I began to ponder outfit options, I decided to share with my readers, my thought process so that hopefully, some of you who are looking for employment will look great while doing so and hopefully land that great job! While this advice is tailored to those who are looking for business positions within the fashion industry, it can also be useful for other industries as well.
Interview vs. Informational Interview
First, this is not an interview, so wearing a suit to get coffee seems pretty ridiculous to me. I have read that “business casual” is the best way to go, but because I don’t ever know what that means, and business casual can mean anything from a button up and skirt for some, to an Old Navy tee and khaki board shorts for others, I decided to be a little more specific. Informational Interviews pose more anxiety because you have more options than your typical “Interview suit.” You have the room to express your individual style, but you want to stay within the parameters of professionalism as well.
Labels, Labels, Labels
I’m broke. I’m a student. The employers you are meeting with have been broke (to some extent) and students as well, therefore, I highly doubt they expecting you to wear the label they work for. For instance, if you are interviewing with Chanel, you don’t need to wear head to toe Chanel. If you can afford Chanel as a law student, then more power to you, but you don’t want to come off seeming too privileged straight out of the gate. The important thing is to look nice and well-groomed. Opt for less expensive to mid-range affordable options. A Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress is a great, yet somewhat pricey option. If you can get your hands on a vintage one, go for it. If you can find a less expensive version of a wrap dress, go for it! The wrap dress offers full coverage, comfort, versatility, and an opportunity to express your individual style. DVF offers great print and color options. The important thing to ask yourself is: “will this distract the person with whom I am meeting from what I am saying?” If so, don’t wear it.
Another great option, is to wear a nice simple blouse and slacks. Keep in mind, you don’t want your neckline to be too low (distracting, even if you don’t have cleavage) and you don’t want your shirt or slacks to be too tight. If you put a folded piece of paper in your pocket and the outline of the paper is visible when you look in the mirror, your pants are too tight. If your buttons look like they are fighting for dear life to stay together, your shirt is too tight. Pants with prints are typically distracting, so I would avoid anything outside of a subtle pinstripe. A floral print, or subtle animal print blouse is a great pattern option for your blouse (emphasis on subtlety).
Blazers are great ways to pull a look together; so are cardigans. Chances are, even in summer, you will feel a temperature shift indoors. You don’t want to be distracted from the great advice the person with whom you are meeting is giving you because you’re too cold or too hot. Layer your look with a blazer or cardigan so you can keep yourself comfortable throughout. Blazers also enhance the professionalism of an outfit immediately. If you feel overdressed when you begin the informational, take the blazer off.
It’s summer, so toes are out. My advice, keep them concealed for the informational. I personally think sandals are too informal to wear in any professional setting (others disagree). I would opt for a pump (no more than 4 inches), a nice pointed flat, smoking shoe, or brogue. Additionally, make sure the shoe is clean and works well with your outfit.
I have a few personal rules: 1. If you wear a necklace, make sure your earrings, if any are minimal (studs). If you don’t wear a necklace, earrings can have more time to shine, but make sure you don’t look like a Basketball Wife, or a Love and Hip Hop cast member.
(Studs - www.anjolee.com. Photo credit: starcrossedsmile.com)
Rings and bracelets should be minimal as well.
Really, any neat, well-kept style is fine. Ponytails as opposed to the interview chignon are great “business casual” options. French twists and retro hairstyles also show your personal flare without being too distracting. A french or fishtail braid is also a nice relaxed alternative to the more uptight interview hairstyle.
Finally, the most important accessory is really not an accessory at all. Smile. Be yourself. Be confident. Be prepared. Everything else is out of your control.
Hopefully, my own advice works for me. :-)
For professional style ideas, check:
and of course whitneywears.com