Putting together my interview outfit
March 20, 2013 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I think I have all the pieces for my interview outfit. Can you help me put them together appropriately?

Me: Female, 5'7'' Size 8, curvy, transitioning from academia to industry
The job: Actuarial position at an insurance company

Suit: Tailored suit in charcoal grey, wool, pant suit (I also have the matching pencil skirt, but think I would prefer to wear the pants, and they appear to be perfectly acceptable).
Shirt: I have button downs in pale blue, white and pink. I am leaning towards the blue as this goes best with my complexion (which is warm). Actually none of these colors is ideal and I would prefer to wear a mustard silk button-down blouse or navy printed button-down silk blouse, which I also have, but I think these are more daring choices and am leaning towards being conservative for an interview.

Shoes: I am having some trouble deciding on these. I have the following shoes: these ankle boots and these black pumps. When wearing my suit pants, the boots despite their look on the Zappos site, show a fairly neat profile (i.e. only the front part of the foot is seen) but it is possible that a tiny bit of the zipper may be seen. Do you think this is unprofessional for an interview? These are very practical shoes that I wear regularly with the pants I'll be wearing for the interview.

My other option is the black pumps -- these are new shoes that I bought for this purpose, but my pants are probably a bit too short for them as currently tailored. (I have actually just given them to the tailor to take down half an inch so that they'd even work with the boots.) Also I am much more comfortable in the heel height of the boots as opposed to the pumps. They're quite comfortable, but that's "comfortable for heels" not comfortable in general.

Finally I could go with neither of these, return the black pumps and buy these pumps, which are a lower heel height.

Bag: The only appropriate tote I have right now has a broken zipper, so I am thinking of getting something like this briefbag. Would this be appropriate? Any other suggestions?

Thanks for the help!
posted by peacheater to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My vote is definitely for the black pumps you have! Even if the top of the boots isn't visible with the suit pants when standing, they are pretty casual and the furry part might be visible when you sit down. Plus, it's the first day of spring, so the boots might feel out of season.

I think the suit with pale blue shirt and current black pumps would be perfect for the interview. That briefbag is really nice, but if you have time, I'd look at Target, TJMaxx, or Marshalls for something similar at a lower price, although one you really like would be a nice investment for your new job even if it was spendier.

Best of luck in your interview!
posted by shortyJBot at 7:13 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everything sounds great except for the boots. I would strongly advise against wearing them to an interview, as they're pretty clearly meant for outdoor winter wear (even just a sliver will show that). The Cole Haan pumps are perfect, and it's unlikely that you'll have to wear them for very long / walk a lot.

The briefbag looks good, I would suggest sticking with the blue button-down, pants should be fine unless the company is known for being super-conservative.

I have interviewed dozens of people for professional positions.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:15 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

The soles of the boots look like sneaker soles. Even if you can't see the top of the boots (which you probably can when you're sitting down): go with the pumps.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:41 PM on March 20, 2013

I work at a fairly conservative insurance company. Just make sure you look professional and your clothes aren't too flashy or distracting. If you have a great interview, the color of your shirt won't be a dealbreaker.
posted by wolfnote at 7:43 PM on March 20, 2013

Never those boots, ever. Either pair of pumps seems fine. The bag is nice. I don't think the shirt color matters, but if you are curvy, do make sure the shirt fits your bust without tugging at the buttons; that ends up looking sloppy.

Good luck!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:49 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you might be over estimating how conservative 'conservative' needs to be. If you're already wearing a charcoal grey suit, you can certainly wear a mustard or navy blue printed blouse. In fact, i'd encourage it - you'll still be quite conservative looking, but they might actually remember you a bit better if you aren't completely 'blah'.

I'd recommend you return the pumps and buy those lower heeled shoes. The boots are fine, but they are 'outdoor' boots, and they don't go with a suit - they are too casual. If the heels that you own - which are nice and appropriate - are too high for you to be comfortable, you'll never wear them. If you're going to be in a suit-wearing office, you'll need shoes that are appropriate and wearable, so you might as well get them now.
posted by Kololo at 7:50 PM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

I agree with Kololo about the shirt and the shoes. I love the sound of the mustard yellow shirt, and if you like it or the navy one best, you'll feel more confident.

And I also like those low-heeled pumps a little more. And, as Kololo said, you're probably more likely to wear them if you think they'll be more comfy.

Good luck!
posted by primate moon at 7:55 PM on March 20, 2013

Somehow I didn't see it on my first read, but those Ferragamo pumps are a) amazing, b) will last you forever, c) if you can't afford them new, you might be able to find a used pair on ebay.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:59 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ok, message received loud and clear regarding the boots. I'll definitely go with one of the pairs of pumps. I'm still sort of mulling over the Ferragamo pumps vs. Cole Haan ones. The Cole Haans are definitely the safer option (or the more boring one) and I have them right here and know they fit well and are quite comfortable, so I am leaning towards them at the moment. While the Ferragamos are theoretically more comfortable, I wouldn't be able to say for sure till I tried them on (even though they're a lower heel height, they could still fit me weirdly -- I have really hard feet to find comfortable shoes for). I can give the tailor a call in the morning and ask him to hold off on the pant length adjustments till I come in with the Cole Haan shoes.

The Ferragamos are definitely beautiful, though -- I will probably end up getting them at some point (perhaps from ebay, ablazingsaddle!).

Admiral Haddock, I hear you regarding the gaping of button-down shirts, but I got these tailored precisely because of this issue.

Still on the fence regarding the blue shirt vs. mustard.

Thank you all for the invaluable advice!
posted by peacheater at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2013

Another vote for the mustard blouse if it flatters your coloring and makes you feel good about yourself.

You are probably already planning to do this, but: do a full trial run of the outfit (plus hair, makeup if applicable), not only around your house but out in "the wild" (coffeeshop, perhaps). You'll want to work out any glitches in advance -- are the shoes a bit slippery going up stairs; does the jacket have a tendency to get caught when you sit down; does the handbag fall over with a thunk when you try to prop it next to you; etc.)

Knock 'em out!
posted by nacho fries at 8:13 PM on March 20, 2013

You can do better for less money w/r/t the bag if you have time for eBay (time to shop, time for shipping). Look for women's or smaller unisex Coach briefcase style bags from before production was moved to China.

There are always exceptions, but FWIW generally speaking insurance is an understatedly but stolidly conservative industry with Midwestern sensibilities; and I think your picks work just fine for that. (It's OK to be a little more put together, you just don't want to seem eccentric. So, yeah, not the fuzzy boots.) I agree that it doesn't mean "blah."
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:15 PM on March 20, 2013

Ferragamos are great, esp if you have narrow feet, and they will last forever. But you can probably find them on sale some place at some time. I'd wait til you get the gig to splash out.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:19 PM on March 20, 2013

No to the boots. Maybe a nice string of pearls too.
posted by bananafish at 9:59 PM on March 20, 2013

And one more thing: While I fully support a woman's right to comfortable shoes, it's worth trying to get used to walking in 2 1/2 inch heels. Just wear them around the house.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2013

Levenger stuff come up on eBay all the time if that's the bag you fancy, but I've only noticed an interviewee's bag because it was a bad fake. Corporette had a blog post on the perfect interview bag, and the comments have lots of great suggestions.

In an interview, a nice document pouch or folio will be a professional touch, and in a pinch, I've slipped a file folder into my laptop sleeve and used that.

Good luck!
posted by evoque at 12:41 AM on March 22, 2013

Just as a followup, I went with a mustard-silk blouse, the Cole Haan heels and the Levenger bag. I added a simple silver necklace with a small yellow stone (semi-precious, but don't remember the name). I got my curly hair trimmed and blow-dried the day before and wore no nail polish. I felt great!

The interview went really well and I'm happy to say I got the job! So thanks to Metafilter once again from steering me in the right direction (and away from inappropriate snow boots!).
posted by peacheater at 5:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

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