What To Wear: Interviews, Conferences, Business Trips

BlogHer Original Post

After years in different jobs in the corporate arena, I have learned to create a staple career wardrobe. These are pieces that are versatile, work with one another, and have me ready for whatever my job throws my way. Below, I address three common work situations and what to wear for each. You’ll see that I reuse the same pieces –- there’s no need to have an enormous wardrobe to be stylish and professional. If you shop smart, knowing when to invest and when to budget, you can have a hard-working career wardrobe that will support you through all work experiences.

The Interview


Each great job starts with a great interview. While dress code will vary by the field of work, you can’t go wrong with a well-tailored black pantsuit. Black is a versatile color that can then be used in other aspects of your life -– you can dress up with silk heels and sparkly jewelry for a cocktail party, or wear the pieces separately in your everyday work wardrobe. A pantsuit is a safe bet that will keep you from stressing over hosiery and will be appropriate no matter the time of year. Buy a suit free of adornments, embellishments, and memorable details, so it can be worn over and over for many years. Popular retailers like Ann Taylor and J. Crew sell quality suiting at reasonable prices -– stalk their clearance racks and you may be able to find a classic and stylish suit for up to 50% off retail.

Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your interview ensemble –- choosing a shell in a signature color with an interesting neckline will help your interviewers understand you better as a person. A solid color is a better choice, as it will also be more versatile in your everyday work wardrobe. Be sure that no cleavage is showing, and that you can take off your jacket without exposing lingerie or too much skin. A sleeveless or short-sleeved blouse will be more comfortable when you’re sweating or getting hot with the stress of the situation. This is a piece you could find at any price point –- as long as it fits well and is modest, you can find a great blouse anywhere from Goodwill to Target to your favorite department store.

As for accessories, keep them simple, polished, and classic. A structured handbag large enough to hold a copy of your resume or laptop is a wise choice. As with the suit, keep it free of too many details, so it is professional and timeless. As for shoes, any heel height can work as long as the shoe has structure, simple details, and a polished finish. A leather pump with anything from ½” to 3” heel is appropriate. Choose a closed toe, so that it is appropriate no matter how conservative the office environment. This is a type of shoe that can be worn anywhere from the office to a wedding to a funeral, so it’s smart to invest in a pair that fits well and is crafted with care. As for jewelry, feel free to wear it, but be sure it doesn’t wear you -– keep the bold statement necklaces, jangly bangles, and chandelier earrings for another occasion.


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