When it comes to interviews, first impressions are key – and your interview outfits can paint a fabulous picture of who you are before even uttering a word. Now, what you wear won’t guarantee you success, but it definitely puts your best foot forward when meeting a potential employer. And, this is even more important in a field of work where meeting people on a regular basis is the essence of the job, like so many jobs in customer service. You may be thinking that the hospitality and retail industries are far too casual to worry yourself about what is deemed appropriate interview attire, but think again. Looking professional during your interview should be your top priority, no matter where you’re applying, and I mean everywhere…even the family-run mom and pop restaurant. I always recommend to err on the side of formal rather than risk looking too casual, which can, ultimately, risk your not getting the job.
I want to stress, however, that looking professional doesn’t mean you have to look boring. Womenswear today offers a variety of really flattering and fun-yet-professional pieces that you can mix and match for your interviews. To get the most bang for your buck (especially if you plan on doing multiple different interviews within a short period of time), I recommend purchasing three key pieces to build your entire interview wardrobe around.
A Well-Fitting Blazer
A well-fitting blazer is a MUST-HAVE— and the great thing is that it can be worn over almost anything to give that bit of polish to your outfit. While it doesn’t need to be ridiculously expensive or high-end, a blazer does need to fit you perfectly and work with your body type. That means the shoulders fit you properly, you can close it without any buttons busting at the seams, and the sleeve length hits you at the right spot just below your wrists. If you’ve found one you love and it may not fit you perfectly, then see a tailor – but only if you have the budget for it as it can be a bit pricey. In terms of colour, I recommend buying a blazer in a neutral colour (black, white, navy blue or charcoal grey) to get the most wear. However, if you are comfortable with a brighter hue, a bright-coloured blazer can add that pop of colour to an otherwise simple outfit for a great finishing touch.
(click on each image to enlarge; sources: bloglovin.com; prettydesigns.com; stylishpetite.com)
A Crisp White Shirt
There’s a reason why a tailored white shirt has never gone out of style: it’s versatile, classic, and looks good on basically everyone (when done right!). You can wear a white shirt on its own with dress pants or a skirt (tucked in or left out), under a sweater with the collar pulled out, under a blazer, or as part of a full suit. If you’re buying only one, a classic cut in a cotton stretch fabric is a better choice because it will not only keep its shape longer, but it will withstand seasons. Just make sure not to spill anything on it, especially before that important interview!
(click on each image to enlarge; sources: harpersbazaar.com; memorandum.com; cosmopolitan.com)
A Flattering Day Dress
What’s a day dress, you may you ask? It’s a dress that can be worn at work, with a hemline that hits no shorter than the knee. This is a piece that is far from being mistaken for formal or cocktail attire, so no sequins, beading or cutouts! I recommend having a day dress that is flattering to your body type in a solid jewel-toned colour (red, navy, bordeaux, purple or black) or in a versatile pattern, such as geometric, stripes or a subdued floral. A great choice is a wrap dress with sleeves; this silhouette looks amazing on women of all sizes! An added bonus of having a day dress in your interview wardrobe is that it’s a bit more affordable than investing in multiple pieces. However, if you have the first two items on this list, you can wear them both with the day dress to create a few more outfits, as seen below.
(click on each image to enlarge; sources: dailymail.co.uk; memorandum.com)
Lastly, this isn’t part of my list but it’s worthy of a mention: invest in a pair of great heels that you can walk in comfortably but that still give you a few inches of height. A pair of sleek, black leather pumps will do the trick, and if you’re worried about what to buy (especially if you plan on wearing them after you nail your interview), you can read my recommendations for stylish yet comfortable footwear.
Best of luck with your interviews!
About the Author: Mana Mansour
Award-winning broadcast host and fashion journalist Mana Mansour has been recognized nationally for presenting compelling lifestyle stories that both inspire and inform. She was recently an Associate Producer and On-Air Fashion Contributor for CBC’s national lifestyle talk show Steven and Chris, a role that merged her lifelong passion for everything stylish with useful fashion advice for both men and women internationally. Mana now provides her fashion expertise to multiple outlets on-air and online, including CTV Morning Live.