Fashion Tips For The Clumsy
August 1, 2013 9:42 PM   Subscribe

What do I wear on a job interview in August when my legs are all scabby from an unfortunate injury?

I can't believe I'm wasting a question on this, but in light of my dismal track record with job interviews lately, here we go.

Tomorrow I have an interview for a position as a sales associate/design consultant in a hip, upscale stationery store. This is a job that I feel I'm pretty uniquely qualified for, the shop is very cool, and assuming the boring stuff like hours and pay and commission works out, I definitely want the gig.

It being August in California, ideally I'd wear a cute sundress and either sandals or ballet flats (or maybe ankle boots?), minimal makeup, hair in an updo with bangs blow-dried just so. Lookit me, I'm Zoey Deschanel!

But a week ago I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk, faceplanted onto the ground, and both my knees are scabbed up with road rash.

Is it OK to just wear my cute sundress, scabby knees be damned? Or should I pick one of the following options:

- summer maxi dress which is a little strappy for a job interview, but just wear a light cardigan over it.

- a more conventionally professional pair of slacks with a blouse, quirky design-geek persona be damned.

I mean, I feel like in an ideal world, being a little physically banged up for a few days is not a big deal. But I also feel very judged on my appearance, and customer-facing retail sales in which people are coming in as clients prepared to spend a lot of money on wedding packages (which will be the bulk of my work) seems especially appearance-oriented.

What's a klutz to do?
posted by Sara C. to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
Ugh, I sympathize, my legs are always banged up too! I am actually glad I live in foggy SF because I always have a reason to wear tights with a skirt!

I would try to hide the knees, I think they will call too much attention to themselves. I wouldn't do the maxi dress, too casual. I'd see how much you can "quirk" up the conventional outfit with accessories. I don't know if I'm underestimating LA's fashion-ness, but I always think it's best to err on the side of over- rather than under-dressed for interviews.

Oh, and good luck!
posted by radioamy at 9:46 PM on August 1, 2013

Would a coordinating pair of cropped leggings cover the scabs while not compromising the cute Zooey Deschanel vibe?

I think the maxi dress sounds too casual. Slacks with a quirky blouse or light sweater can look very nice without being blah.
posted by amanda at 9:47 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

If it were me, I would wear the cute sundress and somehow work the faceplant story into my first 5 minutes of the interview as an icebreaker as well as a way to just clear any lingering questions about it.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:48 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please don't reference face-planting or scabs in your interview.

Wear the pants. Pick up some awesome accessories. You can get super fun stuff at Forever 21; it will tarnish in two days, but it will have cost $4, so who cares?
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:57 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Dress with leggings was my first thought, too, or pants + blouse (you can always quirk it up a bit with fun accessories).
posted by scody at 10:05 PM on August 1, 2013

Slim ankle-length pants, an interesting blouse, and accessories. Don't make your scabs the focus of the interview.
posted by mai at 10:31 PM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

Cute patterned tights? When I was kickboxing I lived in opaque tights :D
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet at 10:36 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding slim cropped pants with a cool blouse or a more casual shirt with awesome jewelry.
posted by MadamM at 10:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thirding slim cropped pants with a cute tank and light cardigan. (Obviously I'm envisioning something Audrey Hepburn-esque. Can you channel her?)
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:00 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a lot of experience with this, really, a lot. What you actually should do is cover your wounds with the largest size of these (also known as Activ Flex). They will stick down flat and make the scabs etc really difficult to see (they blend in surprisingly well). Then you can wear whatever the hell you want, and as an extra side effect your knees will heal faster and cleaner too.

Each plaster can be left on for several days so the best thing would be to start using them today. That will give time to soften up the scabs that are there so they will be less dark by tomorrow. Also, if your knee happens to be weeping and the gel gets all full and swollen you'll know that ahead of time, so can put on a fresh one just before the interview. These things are water proof and flexible and work well on knees.
posted by shelleycat at 11:55 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maxi dress is too casual. But your sundresses are above the knee?
posted by desuetude at 11:58 PM on August 1, 2013

Oh and if you decide that having even smooth almost invisible plasters on show isn't suitable, then I agree to go with cropped leggings and your sun dress. But wear the plasters anyway. They will protect your knees so you don't wince when you accidentally bump them crossing your legs and prevent any weeping through your clothes etc. You'll be able to just forget the scrapes are even there.
posted by shelleycat at 11:58 PM on August 1, 2013

Response by poster: The sundress I intended to wear is knee-length, and my scabs are unfortunately just below the knee. Luckily nothing is weepy or oozy or anything, I just look like a six year old who isn't so good at riding a two wheel bike yet.

I think I'm going to wear pants and a blouse. I have slim ankle-length slacks and a couple of on-trend tops that should go nicely. I kind of suck at accessorizing, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Thanks, all!
posted by Sara C. at 12:01 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think pants and blouse with chunky accessories is the way to go. Def not sundress with leggings- that look is way to casual. Maxi Id have to see a picture of to judge could be ok
posted by sweetkid at 4:28 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I've been able to use makeup to successfully cover scraped knees (only after they were fully scabbed over, no makeup on open wounds). Heavy-duty concealer, plus foundation, blended out, with powder, rendered my similarly clumsy-looking knees into ones that were normal-looking enough for a formal event.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2013

Pants and a blouse.

It's just easier.

(That's what I'm wearing on my interview on Monday!)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:37 AM on August 2, 2013

If you feel that the pants and blouse would be too business or too dressy, then chinos, or white pants with a summery blouse and a cardigan would be a good compromise. Something like this might give you some ideas. You could swap it out for a more colorful summer blouse. Depending on how formal you need it to be, you could swap the cardigan for a light jacket and wear a belt and ballet flats instead of sandals.
posted by Dimes at 7:38 AM on August 2, 2013

Compromise! What about a maxi skirt with a cute top and closed-toe flats? As someone familiar with your milieu I don't think that would be too casual.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:44 AM on August 2, 2013

I think you are right to go with pants and a blouse!

As someone who has worked in retail in a boutique before, it is really important that when you are working you look slightly sharper than the average store customer. That's just a general rule of thumb for the hgher end retail professional. Normally, you want to dress above the comfort level of the average customer at least a notch. You want to make customers feel comfortable while at the same time coming across as neat and professional (yeah, I know that part is obvious, but bear with me here).

The thing is, when people are shopping and need help, you might think they want someone who is friendly and helpful and hip and young, and often they do WANT that once the ice is broken.

BUT what people actually DO in practice is look for the "dressiest" person in the shop to help them. They make the assumption that this person is an employee rather than a casual shopper like them, and the dressier the person, the more likely that person is to be a manager or someone in charge who really knows what she's doing. This makes sense when you think about it. You may even have unconsciously done this yourself.

If you have ever been mistaken as the manager in a store when you are just shopping, you can probably look back and realize that it was when you were just off of work and looking your most "put together" that this happened. I don't know how many elderly women I have helped over the years (because who can refuse a nice grandma lost in the aisles?) even after politely responding that no, Ma'am, I don't actually work here.

I know you probably won't get a lot of old ladies in this hip upscale store (though it IS a stationery store, and they actually still write letters! So maybe you will at that). But you are still going to be dealing with that general mindset. And since you are going for a job interview, you want to dress even sharper and more put together (because of course we all bring it up a notch for an interview and try to act like we are always this impeccably attired, amirite?).

So look at it this way: if you were going to shop in this store, for, say, custom wedding invitations, what would you wear? If you would feel comfy in a sundress normally, which I would, too, you would want to at least dress it up with something over your shoulders and some coordinating accessories as an employee. For an interview, then, you would probably bite the bullet and put on some heels and take some care with your makeup, too.

Since you indicated this is an upscale sttionery place (like a Papyrus or something, I'm guessing?), you will want to lean a bit more conservative, as a big part of their appeal is going to be their image. If it were a shop centered around the creative aspect, you could go more funky and casual.

Anyway, just a thought. You're an all-around awesome person and they'd be lucky to have you on their staff. Looking the part just gives you that added edge going in.

Good luck!
posted by misha at 10:00 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, and as for acessorizing, take a clue from their product line.

If they tend toward understated, minimalist stuff on fine cardstock (now I have American Psycho in my head!), stick with very little jewelry and make it understated as well, like simple stud earrings.

Do they go in for calligraphy and scrolly flourishes? Go vintage, with dangly earrings and chains, tapestry blouse, menswear vest, a leather bag, etc.

If they are more breezy and eclectic, you can be, too, and mix it up. Be Megan from Mad Men in her bright colors! Wear those frivolous shoes you got on a whim that everyone comments on! Grab the etsy purse your friend handmade for you!
posted by misha at 10:21 AM on August 2, 2013

Response by poster: Just for future reference for people looking for job interview clothing tips, or folks who want to know:

I wore slim ankle length slacks with a subtle black-on-navy houndstooth print and a sheer cream colored sort of drapey top with a coral tank layered under it. I accessorized with a simple long not-really-gold chain with some quirky hipsterish pendants attached. I wore ballet flats because those are the only shoes I have right now that look good with those particular pants.

I was interviewed by someone in denim overalls. I mean, extremely fashion forward denim overalls, but, yeah. Chinos certainly would have been out of place.

This is the most Claudia Kishi-esque thing I have ever typed. That said, it's a very Claudia Kishi-esque shop.
posted by Sara C. at 8:09 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

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