EP: What are the rules these days about interview wear?AA: I think it would be interesting to compare what to wear for different kinds of interviews — graduate school or job — you don’t necessarily have to dress like an office drone in a suit and tie.
EP: I agree. Grad school interviews may not be the place for a full suit. Unless, perhaps you are applying for law or business, in which case, you career will most likely require a suit, so it might be a smart choice.
KW: I think that it is true for job interviews to a certain extent. You should always look professional, but it really depends on the field. If it is a more creative area, something to do with art perhaps, you can get away with something that expresses your personal style a little more, rather than defaulting to a suit.
I think there are some across-the-board rules, which may seem basic and silly, but merit mentioning anyway. Whatever your clothing choice, make sure it is clean, wrinkle/stain/hole-free, and fits well. Hem your pants — do not just use safety pins. Also, make sure you are modestly dressed. A short skirt and low-cut top do not say, “I am a professional and I know what I am doing.” Anything I may be missing?
EG: I think you have covered most of the basics. One of my personal rules for job/internship interviews, however, is always adding a bit of color. A distinctive yet classy piece of jewelry or some other accessory will make you stand out a little. Maybe this doesn’t apply to every interview situation, but I definitely do not think you always need to dress in the typical black suit/white blouse ensemble. Variations of this, perhaps?
AA: To add on to what Kayla said: Dress for the field you are hoping to enter. I heard a story from a friend who said that she went to a grad school interview and saw many interviewees dressed in stiff suits and the like. The interviewers, however, were dressed in extremely casual clothing.
If, as Emily said, you are going into a field in which you’ll be wearing suits and ties and such, I agree that it is a good idea to try and wear a similar thing to your interview. In other cases, though, it is probably okay not to go overboard with a businesslike look. Wear something sharp but comfortable — maybe that’s a good way to put it.
EP: There are so many great ways to do suit and business basics. I’m sorry, but the truth is that you have to spend a little bit of money (you can do a great suit for maybe under $150) in order to look put together. In our situation, at our age, a person only really needs one suit. You can mix and match really easily with a couple of pairs of nicely tailored (meaning not spandex, thin or stretchable material) dress pants.
CM: It is possible to create business look inexpensively too — I just discovered New York & Co. and their $14.99 or less suit separates: pants, blazers, and dress shirts. You can look good, and still find good quality, for not a lot of money.
KW: I agree that a suit can be a wonderful asset, and something people our age should probably be investing in sometime soon. Even if it is just a basic black suit, wearing a colorful shirt underneath lets you get a little more creative and keeps you from looking like the wait staff at the Ramada.
Also, while we are talking about suits, and therefore jackets, I would like to bring up the concept of ‘lock and load.’ The position of the buttons and how many buttons there are on a garment are really important when choosing a jacket. If you have a larger chest, a higher stance will keep them from exploding out of the lapels, which isn’t flattering or professional. You cannot get away with double-breasted jackets, unless you want to look, well, very double-breasted.
Hopefully we’ve illuminated the diversity of interview clothing choices for you here! For further information about this topic, fellow Lawrentians, we refer you to Stacy and Clinton. Good luck.