Help! I need to look professional and I own no suits.

(60 Posts)

Next Friday I am going to go into a room with a copy of my thesis and let two professors tear it apart while I gibber and shake. And then hopefully they're going to tell me I have not totally failed my PhD.

Customarily I believe people wear suits to do this. Or at least something very smart.

I hate trouser suits. I look an idiot in trousers.

I would love to find something that looked a bit 1940s/vintagy - something I would actually want to wear, as opposed to 'corporate uniform' style. Like, if Vivienne Westwood made skirt suits. Which she doesn't, AFAIK. It's allowed to be a bit quirky. At this stage, desperation and the large credit card I've just been sent mean you could probably push my budget quite a long way if you show me the pretties.

I am 5'4ish, size 12/14 with about D/DD bust and a bit of tummy. Dark hair and eyes.

Any help? I am counting on your awesome wisdom.

marfisa Tue 15-Oct-13 19:24:28

No advice sadly as I am hopeless when it comes to fashion. But I haven't seen you on MN for awhile (am I frequenting the wrong forums?) and so I wanted to say hi and best of luck with the viva! Would love to meet up again.

Hope someone more style-savvy comes along with advice. xx

Oh, hello! I was just thinking the same thing. We must be ships in the night. But I've also been quite busy prepping for the viva (and I've been writing a blog about my new project which is fun but a time-sucker).

Thank you so much for the good wishes, really kind. smile

And yes, I'd like to meet up again too.

La Westwood does make skirt suits.....

Wingdingdong Tue 15-Oct-13 19:51:21

I wore a skirt and a jumper to mine. Not a suit though I own several (from the day job). At least one of the examiners wore jeans...

I reckon you should wear a MN scarf. You know, just on the off chance... wink.

Good luck!

duvetheaven Tue 15-Oct-13 19:55:58

How about a v neck vest/ long sleeved t shirt with a scarf and a jacket from Zara? You could easily wear the jacket again then. Um and a skirt in a matching colour?
It is a cliche but I think the accessories will be the key !

Ooh! Thanks stat, I missed that and I'm really not sure how. I'd only looked on net-a-porter and the outlet, I didn't think to look at her own site.

Reckon the tartan one might be a bit much! grin

wing - oh, I should! grin
I know a skirt is quite formal, but speaking to others in my department, most of them were quite formal, so I would feel more confident.

duv - ok, tell me about the accessories! What looks professional? Do I need a smart bag?

A gorgeous designer silk scarf perhaps? I wore a lovely red polka dot valentino one to an interview recently, made me feel fabulous!

duvetheaven Tue 15-Oct-13 20:06:19

I just think if it looks like you have thought about the bag, scarf and earrings and what goes together it will show! I have a good work bag from Matalan for £20. Also, I think some clashing colours look good too. I recently saw shocking pink and red together and thought it looked great. Depends on your personality though!?

tethersend Tue 15-Oct-13 20:14:53

What's your budget?

tethersend Tue 15-Oct-13 20:19:09

I quite like this but it might be a bit loud...

tethersend Tue 15-Oct-13 20:21:53

This is more sober, nicely cut.

OldRoan Tue 15-Oct-13 20:22:42

Hobbs? I'm the same size as you, more or less, and I find their things are really well cut for me.

Blue dress
Camel coloured dress I wouldn't wear it, but strikes me as the right sort of period? With a scarf and some low heeled shoes?
how colourful would you go?!

tethersend Tue 15-Oct-13 20:41:14

What size are you?

This is lovely

tethersend Tue 15-Oct-13 20:50:13

Ignore that last one, get this, it's gorgeous.

omletta Tue 15-Oct-13 20:50:51

I don't have a clue about fashion, but I do work in academia and to be frank, I don't think many academics have mirrors (!) - sorry if that's offensive to anyone! A skirt, jumper and scarf would be fine. Tights, I personally feel are appropriate, and decent shoes, but that could just be me.

Go for what makes you feel great and very good luck. Please come and tell us how it goes.

Minshu Tue 15-Oct-13 22:46:29

You would be unlikely to get to viva stage if your supervisor didn't think you'd get through, surely. Wear something that makes you feel confident smile

I wore my v cheap h&m interview suit for mine many years ago. That was in physics, and the profs were not even vaguely interested in what I wore...

Good luck (not that you'll need luck)

FreshLeticia Wed 16-Oct-13 07:59:45

Wow, I love that Westwood purply skirt suit at the bottom of the page. Shame i work in an area which requires outdoory clothes - I never get to wear professional-looking stuff.

Oh, you are all wonderful! thanks

stat - wow! I've never had a designer scarf. Or even a terribly posh one.

duv - ok, I will think about accessories but might run them past people here, because I don't feel terribly confident.

roan - thanks, good point! I have a few things from Hobbs but find their shapes can be hit-and-miss on me. I'm quite slight and sometimes their stuff falls off my shoulders (and bulges on my tummy, ok! grin).

tethers - you lovely woman, I am so glad you saw this cos you always have good suggestions. I really like the first one. I said I was size 12-14 and in her sizes, I have a (very cheap from Bicester village) jacket from Anglomania and it's a 42. It is proper tight though, so for interview clothes maybe a 44.

Pity cos the grey suit is lovely.

om - thanks for the encouragment. smile And the point about tights! I didn't think, actually, so that helps.

And misha It's not really for the academics - it's for me, I want to feel confident. Does that make sense?

fresh - ooh, I never thought I could pull that one off. I do like the Westwood suits but my favourite shapes are in the colours I am not brave enough for (red tartan?! grin). I might think about the purple though.

marfisa Wed 16-Oct-13 09:30:16

I agree that on one level it doesn't matter what you wear, but yes, an outfit that you know you look good in can make a huge difference to your own confidence. When I was applying for the job I have now, one of my colleagues told me, "I really want to help you get this job" and I immediately said to her, "Can you come to the shops with me and help me choose an outfit?" I was delighted when she said yes - I had always admired her sense of style. The dress I ended up with wasn't even that expensive (£40?) but it's still one of the most flattering things I own.

Yes, that's what I was trying to articulate, marfisa! And that's a lovely colleague of yours.

I think for me, I've got dressing in my own style pretty much down, but usually I am not trying to look professional. My old supervisor also says to use it as a dry run for interviews, which sounds good to me.

I am still being unsure about the actual VW suits, so if anyone sees anything like them elsewhere, I really like her sort of tailoring, just slightly less out-there fabric! grin

I do love the Warehouse one so keeping an eye on that.

tethersend Wed 16-Oct-13 10:31:56

Am trying to work out VW sizing... What's an Italian 48? That grey one has caught my eye...

Oh, and what's your top budget, LRD?

Net-a-Porter reckons an Italian 48 is a UK 16. Though IIRC Anglomania and Red Label are different sizes (Anglomania 42 is Red Label 44), so I am still not quite sure. It's not a label I have much chance to look at usually! grin

I think my top budget might be, erm, quite high if it's something really nice that I will wear again. This is because I am a bad feminist and a kept woman, and DH quite liked the VW black suit (which I don't think I do), so would presumably be ok with that price.

moondog Wed 16-Oct-13 11:56:19

For future reference, the John Lewis website is fantastic as it sells clothes by all the major brands and you can refine your search according to colour, brand and so on and browse hundreds of designs in the comfort of your own home. I loather shopping and this is how I buy most of my clothes. Also free p&p, free returns and fantastic customer service.

Best of luck. How exciting to get the thesis in!
What will you do now with all your free time?!

Great website

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