fiscal fashion har har har pls shoot me
December 29, 2009 8:55 PM   Subscribe

Unexpected interview tomorrow morning at a bank. Do I really have to wear a skirt suit?

Not interviewing to be a teller, "banker", or anything in customer service. Just an administrative position in the IT dept. However this is a big bank in a small, conservative town. Everything online suggests that I be a Proper Lady and wear a skirt suit. But I have two problems with that.

1) I only have one and I almost never wear it, especially not in the winter. The blazer that matches the skirt (and the only black blazer I have) is short sleeves. Would that look ridiculous in the 38 degree weather? Granted I have a nice wool longcoat for practical warmth, but taking that off to reveal a short sleeved blazer and a skirt seems really ridiculous to me. I want them to know I am capable of running an office, let alone dressing myself appropriately for the weather.

2)What do you wear for stockings? Nylons look best but are also impractical for the cold. Are tights a no-no? I have tights in both black and gray.

Also, while I'm asking, is it wildly inappropriate to wear a coordinating but non-matching pant suit? Like a brown blazer and warm-toned gray pants? Is that even still a pant suit? (Grrr. This is what I reeeally want to wear.) Again - for a first interview - at a bank.

All bank-fashion related advice is much appreciated! I want to look my best and blend in as much as possible, despite how enraging the inherent sexism of job interviewing is. I'm coming from a very laid back graphic design start up so these are uncharted waters for my wardrobe!
posted by Juicy Avenger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total)
It's unlikely to be 38 degrees in the interview room.
posted by flabdablet at 9:00 PM on December 29, 2009

Well, I'm not a woman but I work in finance, though admittedly not in the back office. That said, when I interview people, whether they are a man or a woman, I care less about the clothes the person is wearing and more about the qualifications the person brings.

The goal here is to look professional, not to look like you're ready for the cat walk.
posted by dfriedman at 9:00 PM on December 29, 2009

If you have a matching pant suit, that would certainly be appropriate. Otherwise, I would suck it up and do the skirt suit and nylons, with the coat over it. You're going to be inside a heat controlled building, it won't look silly. Besides, interview clothing isn't about being comfortable and appropriate for the weather, it's about looking professional.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:05 PM on December 29, 2009

I don't think I'd wear the short-sleeved blazer. If you have a nice long-sleeved work blouse, I'd wear that with the black skirt and black tights. Not up enough on these things to say yea or nay to the brown blazer + gray pants, but it seems to me that if the tones are right, that too would be fine. You might wear a necklace if you worry the pants will be taken as mannish.

Don't forget the other details - polish up any scuffs in your shoes, neaten any ragged fingernails, etc. Good luck!
posted by lakeroon at 9:10 PM on December 29, 2009

Financial institutions, whether they be banks or private equity firms, tend to be pretty conservative and formal in dress, even in the more laid-back cities in the US, such as Los Angeles. I feel like the non-matching pant suit would be a misstep. While a skirt suit is ideal, a pant suit is fine, but the non-matching colors could be a problem. Do you have a nice black or gray cardigan? That actually may go over better than the brown blazer.

While I understand why you might feel like your short sleeved blazer is not appropriate for the colder weather, many offices in harsh winter environments are over heated and short sleeves are actually necessary. I don't think too many people would blink at you wearing a short sleeve blazer. In an interview, people care if you look nice and professional, rarely do they give consideration to how seasonally appropriate your outfit is, because it's hard to be drastically out-of-season if you are professionally dressed.

I would go with the short-sleeved skirt suit, I think. It's more conventionally business dress than the mix and match pant suit you are also considering. Also, I would go with hosiery over tights. If you're worried about freezing while commuting to the interview, wear pants or leggings underneath and stop into a coffee shop nearby to take them off before you enter the location of your interview. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 9:15 PM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

Seconding katemcd's advice. Perhaps you could wear your suit with a long-sleeved top as in this photo or this one.
posted by angiep at 9:52 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Golden Rule of Interviewing: It's easier to joke away being over-dressed than it is to pretend you're not wearing tennis shoes. Suit up!
posted by alan at 10:41 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with katemcd except for one detail. I think tights are fine with business attire, especially if they are a solid color. I would go with something dark that compliments your suit.
And someone else mentioned it I think, but is it necessary to wear the blazer? If you've got a nice blouse and a cardigan that would still look professional. That way you can wear either the skirt or the pants. I mean, isn't a sport coat under a winter coat going to be bulky and uncomfortable? (I have no experience here, so I'm really asking)
posted by purpletangerine at 7:09 AM on December 30, 2009

I worked at a financial institution for 2.5 years, and not in a customer-facing position either (as a policy and operations analyst, worked closely with IM and application developers). Yes, banking is a conservative field and yes, IT departments will nevertheless still be more casual. If it were the FI I worked for, a matching pantsuit would be ideal, especially with a nice turtleneck. Or, just buy a long-sleeved black jacket to match your skirt (take the skirt with you when shopping so you can make sure the fabric matches in colour and looks 'right').

The thing about interviews is that you have to be at least minimally comfortable in order to do well. It's already a somewhat nervous situation, so you don't want to be worrying about clothes. For example, button-front shirts are usually recommended, but as a somewhat busty lady, I never wear them to interviews because the last thing I need is to be worrying about puckering around the buttons when I need to be focusing on being friendly and answering the questions knowledgably and succintly. You'll find other, small exceptions to the general rules that suit you.

I find people who are dressed truly seasonally inappropriate look silly and immature, and I'd probably find the summer suit odd, but then again I live in a northern climate. Tights with suits are fine, so long as they are 1) opague, 2) dark, non-flashy colour, and 3) not too bulky (go with a silk acrylic, not wool). Also, nice shoes.
posted by Kurichina at 7:40 AM on December 30, 2009

I second Kurinchina's assertion that seasonally inappropriate things look silly and immature. It looks, unfortunately, exactly like what it is, you are wearing your only suit. As long as you look professional, you'll be fine.

two options:

One: brown blazer, a white suit shirt and the grey slacks and nice black winter heels.

Two: wear a white button down with your black skirt and a nice scarf which you take off with your reasonable winter jacket, pair that with winter stockings and those winter heels . Good Luck.
posted by memi at 3:42 PM on December 30, 2009

« Older watt?   |   Exclusive restaurant Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.