What to wear to an interview: Part I


By Julie:

Dressing for a job interview requires advance planning and a good strategy. I figured that out when I moved to New York in 1988, a month after my college graduation, optimistic about launching a career in fashion, advertising, public relations or in whatever industry came knocking at my door first.   I remember slogging around the city on hot, humid days when all the cool New Yorkers had headed for the Hamptons, Nantucket or Majorca, with my faux leather portfolio of resumes in hand, walking in and out of interviews with HR women who didn’t want to be there either.

After a few weeks of waiting for my dream job, my big break came. Ralph Lauren had an opening in their marketing department and I scored the interview.  I spent four days in my sister’s apartment reading everything there was to know about Ralph Lauren: his life, his designs, his success story in fashion.  I practically knew the names of all his horses.  Being overly prepared for any question that could come my way, I knew I was going to nail this job.   Visions of a great office, fabulous colleagues, inspired work and perhaps great company trips to Ralph Lauren-ish type of enclaves danced in my head as I entered the corporate offices.

What I hadn’t given much thought to was my interview attire.  I squeezed myself into one of sister’s suits insisting that the dry cleaner must have shrunk it, tried to tame my big mane of hair and thought that would do it. Let me step back here.  It was a cream suit with a windowpane pattern.  It had broad 1980s shoulders, large square pockets and a straight skirt that hit mid-knee. I added a silk blouse, pearls, pearl-colored stockings and some really attractive cream-colored shoes. I don’t think they make shoes that color anymore for a very good reason. I walked into the mahogany-walled reception area and was greeted by the most chic twenty-something I had ever seen.

From her head-to-toe scan of my presentation, I knew instantly that my mistake was tragic and irreversible.  I wore an Ann Taylor suit to a Ralph Lauren interview.

To be continued…

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