Classy Career Couture

Smart, savvy and stylish, Colgate’s women should have no problem landing that intense internship or job – as long as they strut into their interview with the right outfit. But what is the right outfit? A more fitting question may be: “what is the appropriate outfit?” Women have countless options for professional ensembles; however, the line between what is acceptable and what is not is beyond blurry.

The goal is to let your personal style show through, but too much flair can make for a failed interview. Assembling a fitting interview outfit isn’t easy, but don’t fret. You’re a smart group of girls, and I’m sure that somewhere between studying and sending off your r?esum?es you can figure out what makes for an outstanding interview outfit.

Before we get into what to wear and how to wear it, let’s cover what not to wear. Last week, the boys learned the dangers of denim. The same goes for you girls. Whether it’s an info session or full-blown interview, jeans just aren’t okay. Put away the polos and un-pop the collars, because preppy isn’t professional. You all look very cute in oxfords and sweaters, but save them for class because you need to dress a little bit classier when you’re trying to impress the corporates.

This brings us to our next point. You’re trying to assemble an ensemble that screams class, not piece-of-ass. Contrary to popular belief, a tight, low-cut top and barely-there skirt won’t get you hired; in fact, it won’t get you anywhere. Anything too tight, too short or too revealing is too inappropriate for an interview, even if it’s under or part of a suit. If you’re questioning your outfit, err on the side of conservatism.

Suits are definitely the style that will get you hired. Everyone from Ralph Lauren to Bottega Venata flooded the runways this fall with fitted feminine suit styles. While these suits are fantastic pieces of couture, they’re unfortunately not appropriate if you’re hoping to go corporate. The designer suits of this fall’s collections are, for the most part, fairly tight with fur or adornments and plunging necklines. These sultry suits are great if you’re already a top exec, taking a trip to the City or going out for a dressy dinner, but tone it down a little for your interview.

Just because you’re sticking on the conservative side doesn’t mean you need to go to your interview wearing a bland boxy suit. Stores like Banana Republic and BCBG have fantastic tailored suits this season that are perfect for making a first impression. You’ll find mostly pant suits at stores like these, but a suit with a skirt is completely acceptable as long as your skirt hits at least at the knee and isn’t too tight.

As far as wearing slacks with your suit, it’s fine if they’re tailored and fitted, just don’t show up in a pair of hot pants. A second skin around your lower half won’t impress anyone. The same goes for jackets. If you have a shorter frame, a jacket that hits at the waist is flattering, but if you have some height, try a fitted jacket that hits anywhere from below the waist to just above mid-thigh.

Dark colors are definitely a safe choice for your suit. Mid to dark gray, navy and black will all work and a subtle pinstripe is fine, just nothing too bold. Solid blouses in white or blue are the best choice for underneath, but please button up. Your interviewer doesn’t want to be tempted by an undone button trail leading down to your bra; he wants to be impressed by your wit, work ethic and wonderful wardrobe.

Accessories are a touchy subject, because they can make or break your interview outfit. Pointy, spiky stilettos probably aren’t a good idea for an interview. Instead, wear a soft point or rounded pump with a moderate heel in a dark color. I know chunky jewelry is kind of a big deal right now, but you’re going to have to put it away for your interview.

Big bling and anything too long or too bright will be very distracting and may look gaudy with an interview outfit. Subtle pieces are perfect, like a thin necklace, pearls or studs.

Watches should definitely be worn to create a punctual look that will hopefully be complemented by arriving for your interview on time. Make sure your makeup looks natural; no big black eyes or bright red lips. Down or up is fine for your hair but make sure it’s not in your eyes because your interviewer will want to see your beautiful face!

Work hard, play hard and nail those interviews, girls. If you have style and confidence walking in to the interview, you won’t have any competition.