Sartorial choices for the girls

Interviews are terrifying, and for the most part, fashion might be the last thing on your mind. The job market is difficult enough as it is, without finding yourself more conscious than usual about your threads. But in a situation where nerves are inevitable, the best thing for any interviewee’s morale is to be comfortable.
You may be one of those people whom suiting up simply doesn’t suit, who feels most comfortable in jeans, but the first and most obvious interview fashion tip is to avoid dressing like a wannabe office bicycle. Low-cut tops and short skirts are ok if you want to look like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, but unlike in Movie-Land, employers don’t take would-be lawyers seriously if they look like Hooters rejects. Maintain a level of professionalism and you, too, can look as sophisticated as Julia Roberts inOcean’s Eleven.

Which brings us to the second important tip: always be aware of dress codes within your chosen industry. Professionalism is key in any interview, but certain jobs require a level of finish that others won’t. Investment bankers are arguably less inclined to chose denim for the workplace than shop assistants, for example, while on the other hand, wearing a two-piece suit with matching briefcase to an interview for Topshop is equally inappropriate.

Once you’ve decided what not to wear, remember to make yourself stand out. This can be done in varying degrees. Take the classic suit; while it makes a statement of power, professionalism and maturity, it should never be boring. If the industry dress code allows, try a colour that isn’t black. Also, adding your favourite statement brooch or killer heels to what could be a plain outfit gives you an edge. If (heaven forbid) your interviewers forget your name, they might at least remember you as The One With The Leopard Print Scarf, or Green Handbag Girl. Besides, wearing your favourite statement pieces with an outfit that screams “GIVE ME A JOB!” can be a great confidence boost; tried and tested accessories that you know you look great in could be your new lucky charms.

Forgetting the suit altogether is another way to stand out, especially when interviewing for industries where your individuality is a marketable attribute. This spring’s Seventies trend includes highly-adaptable florals and tailoring, perfect for interviews that are more smart-casual. Try your favourite blazer with a floral blouse and rolled-up chinos or a pencil skirt for a look that is confident and on-trend. High-waisted jeans are relaxed, yet combining a well-fitting pair with a crisp white shirt nails the retro trend whilst still being professional. If braving jeans for an interview, stick to tight fits in black or dark denim for a smarter appearance and sleeker silhouette.

I’ve had some interesting interview experiences of late, and I walked into each one feeling good about myself. My African print blue dress (a nice little waist-cinching number) worked a treat in one, while an all-black ensemble with biker boots worked in another. If you’ve done your research, in both the fashion and job departments, there’s no reason why your nerves should get the better of you. So stand out. You do anyway, just make sure you let them know it, too.

Catriona MacLeod

Image: H&M Press (Elin Kling for H&M)