Interview Outfit Help
January 31, 2013 11:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a job interview next Friday. Yay! But I have questions about what is a setting-appropriate choice.

I am thrilled to have scheduled an interview for a creative position at a startup company. I am conflicted about what to wear. Two options I'm considering are:

A chic ponté knit dress in a solid color with a vintagey, complementary blazer and riding boots or cute shoes
Said vintagey blazer with a matching skirt (so, a suit) with a shell and cute shoes

Do either of these sound appropriate? Any other suggestions? I want to dress professionally and respect the formality of the occasion without seeming stuffy.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
Depends where you are.

On the West coast (where I work in a tech startup), option 1 is perfect. Boots if the dress and blazer are very dressy, pumps if they are more casual (for balance). Option 2 might be stuffy unless the it's a bright color and a really stylish suit.

On the East coast I'd go for option 2, but make it a stylish, trendy shell and stylish jewelry.

Another question is age - if you are younger, you can dress a little more formal/traditional and still seem hip and cool. If you are 35+, you probably want to put more thought into some stylish jewelry/patterns/cuts to emphasize that you're a creative.
posted by amaire at 12:07 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

If by "startup" you mean two guys in a basement, the knit dress and blazer sounds great. If by "startup" you mean a 12-person company with an actual, professional office, a suit won't be out of place.

What I tend to do in this kind of situation is wear an outfit that (a) is nice but somewhat casual without a blazer and (b) is professional with a blazer. I wear the blazer there and can easily take it off, if necessary, when I get a clearer picture of the culture.
posted by cranberry_nut at 12:07 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

It does depend on where you are. In LA, a woman who isn't working somewhere very conservative, or serious (finance, law, etc), showing up in a suit would be overkill. I do think that as a creative, you get a lot more leeway. Personally, I'd wear the dress -- a classy, appropriate dress can be as professional as a suit, but a suit will always seem "conservative."
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd go with option 1. In a startup or a creative environment, looking too stuffy is more of a risk than looking too casual.

(Also, despite what people on the west coast like think, i'm giving this advice from the eastern side of the continent.)
posted by Kololo at 12:14 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Most startups that I've worked with (including the East Coast one I am at now) are anti-suit unless you are meeting the head of a bank or investors or something.
I did my interview for my current startup job in a black ponte dress, gray blazer, black tights and black heels and I was WAY overdressed, so I took the blazer off.

As long as you are put together, it will be great. And the best thing about a simple solid dress is that it is a whole outfit in and of itself so it's never inherently too dressy or formal.
Make sure you are comfortable with the sleeves/straps of your dress in case you feel like taking the blazer off. Same goes for the top you wear under the blazer if you go with the skirt option.
posted by rmless at 12:54 PM on January 31, 2013

I would go with #1, but with shoes, not boots. I think that's a good mix of dressed-up enough for an interview, but not stuffy.
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:01 PM on January 31, 2013

[Just popping back into say that my own geographical note was more meant to express that I don't know what it's like somewhere other than Los Angeles; I was concerned that areas of the American south, or DC, might be more conservative, and if you are there, my advice should be weighted. Obviously, people in those locations know more than I do and I can only speak to my own town -- sorry if that came off jerky, that wasn't my intention.]
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2013

Are there head shots of the executives on the web site? My experience has been that the executives usually dress up a level for the head shot. So if they are all business casual on the web site, they are probably wearing jeans in the office. Which could mean the suit might come off as you not fitting into the culture.
posted by COD at 1:47 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

In Boston software/Internet/biotech startup culture, dress plus blazer would be perfect, suit would be a shade too formal.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2013

Nthing dress, but with shoes (maybe tights with matching booties), not boots.
posted by hrj at 2:40 PM on January 31, 2013

Option 1, with the cute shoes rather than riding boots.
posted by RainyJay at 3:25 PM on January 31, 2013

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