Help! Have a job interview and am totally useless with dressing appropriately

(27 Posts)
kirroyal Tue 01-Mar-16 09:13:46

I seem to have managed to get to 40yo and a good career and yet have missed all the memos about dress rules and codes! I have no appropriateness radar at all and even the most basic things, like the difference between work shoes and going out shoes, I just don't get. So I tend to just hide behind a plain dress, cardigan and boots and that seems ok most of the time.

I now have a job interview, for a managerial/marketing role in a big company. Googling tells me I should aim for business casual, and that this is a jacket with either trousers/dress or skirt+blouse.

Ok, but what is a jacket? Is that half a suit? Do I buy them together or separately - are they supposed to match? And then, what about a coat, do you wear that on top of the jacket or no coat in that case?

I have bulgy thighs and jackets tend to make that look worse because they stop just above. Is there a solution to that?

Please help me! I don't want to be worrying about not wearing the right stuff or feel uncomfortable in over-formal clothes that are really not me.

Oh yes, and last question: I never, ever wear makeup. Is that ok?

gladyoucame Tue 01-Mar-16 09:57:24

I would suggest going smarter than business casual for an interview, however a dress and jacket sounds fine for most industries.
Do you know what usual dress code in this workplace is? If so go one notch above this for an interview, so if standard is dress/trousers and cardigan, you wear dress and jacket.
Jacket can be top half of a suit or maybe called a blazer (Google or search on Pinterest for ladies Blazers) Can you wear one of your usual work dresses with a jacket or blazer on top? Need to feel professional but also comfortable.
Coat required over a jacket if it's cold/you're commuting, may be one more thing to carry so if you're going by car you could leave it in there.

DesertOrDessert Tue 01-Mar-16 10:04:24

Don't wear make up if your not used to it. You will spend all day reel ng strange. I never wear makeup either.
Clothes I can't help! But I'd suggest you either need to match, or go far enough different that it is obvious they aren't supposed to match, iyswim?

EdithWeston Tue 01-Mar-16 10:20:29

For an interview, I would always aim for the formal end of what people doing the job would wear. So I think either a suit or a jacket plus skirt/trousers combination would be best. For the latter, don't attempt to match or it might look as if you were wearing a suit but put the wrong bottoms on (IYSWIM).

Yes, unfortunately most jackets are short at the moment. I'll have a look and see if I can find any longer ones. If you got a plain navy (my preference) or black skirt in a basic (pencil?) shape, it can become a staple of your working wardrobe. Or do you prefer trousers? What is your budget?

You can throw any coat over it - do you have a trench?

If you don't usually wear make up, then don't start for this (other than perhaps just face powder if you go shiny).

Do make sure that your hair will look OK (style less important than looking under control, your nails are clean and your shoes are polished!

kirroyal Tue 01-Mar-16 10:31:38

Thank you for replying to such a complete novice!

So, I don't have any suitable skirt or trousers. My dresses are knitted type ones. I don't think that's ok. I need to buy.

I prefer dresses or skirts because trousers never fit me (big bum and thighs, small waist, short).

When you say not to match, does that mean go for completely different colours then? If I get a navy pencil skirt, what colour should the jacket be?

I had to google trench coat. Nope, don't have one. I have a camel coloured coat that might be ok, or a black cos one with a zip that's a suit-ish kind of material.

Budget - I don't mind spending a bit if it means having suitable work clothes I can reuse!

Tidy hair - think I can manage that!

KatharinaRosalie Tue 01-Mar-16 10:56:51

Yes I would also go for formal for interviews. Either suit, or dress with jacket.

You can buy suits either as a set, or yes you can also buy separate skirts, trousers and jackets. If you buy them separately, then you can for example wear a pink skirt with gray jacket, but you probably would not want to wear pink skirt with pink jacket in just a little different shade or fabric. It will look like half the suit has been damaged in the wash.

Tidy hair and nails - even if you're not into make up, maybea simple manicure (just buffed or clear polish)?

EdithWeston Tue 01-Mar-16 16:20:45

This sort of jacket would work well; the tweediness makes it less formal, but it's a good shape. But it may well be a bit shorter than you're looking for.

www.joules.com/Women/Jackets-Coats/Bronte/Tweed-Blazer/Indigo-Tweed?id=U_BRONTE|INDGTWD

mrsmortis Tue 01-Mar-16 16:53:45

A good combination would be a grey skirt with a navy jacket if you are looking at separates.

This one is on sale at Jaeger www.jaeger.co.uk/wool-flannel-tailored-jacket/661032R-75600-6.html?cgid=sale-women-jackets

I find a good jacket is an investment and I'm still wearing Jaeger jackets I bought 5 years ago so it's worth the money to me to get a more expensive brand.

originalmavis Tue 01-Mar-16 16:58:55

Same field as me.

Tailored black trousers
Smart shirt or plain white top
Heels
Tailored jacket
Hair, nails, makeup, belt, not too much jewellery

No poppy seed bagels before inrerview.
Good luck!

specialsubject Tue 01-Mar-16 17:52:47

nails need to be clean and tidy. Polish not compulsory.
make up not compulsory assuming this isn't the beauty 'industry'. Not wearing makeup never held anyone back in their career otherwise.
do not smell of anything, not even perfume.
no rattly jewellery.
tidy hair
clean tidy smart shoes that you can walk in. Not waddle-making high heels.

jackets are useless garments but sometimes you have to wear them - get one with a couple of pockets if nothing else.

good luck!

originalmavis Tue 01-Mar-16 18:10:29

Whatever makes you feel good.

If I'm going to have a tricky day I make sure that I power up in a suit, and have noticed that the worse the diary, the heavier my jewellery (maybe mentally I am donning my knuckleduster!). That reminds me, I have a meeting with the lawyers coming up...

kirroyal Tue 01-Mar-16 22:05:07

Thanks again.
I'm going to go shopping tomorrow. I feel a bit clearer now.
But I still have more questions!

I have a pair of shoes that I think are ok. They're camel, suede, pointy toe - bit like this
Assuming they're ok, what colour combo would match them for the jacket and skirt/trousers/dress?

And also, what can I do to make it all look a bit less corporate (I know the reason they called me in for an interview is due to my "offbeat" profile that they're looking for)? Google says scarf or jewellery, but again I'm clueless. Any links to suitable items to give me an idea of what's ok?

Nettletheelf Wed 02-Mar-16 07:03:57

Tan suede shoes won't work in winter. They only really look good in summer, with bare legs and an outfit that complements the colour.

Agree re wearing a jacket. I am a little surprised by the 'business casual' definition you found on Google. Jacket & dress, skirt & blouse etc. is business dress, not business casual.

Anyway, despite the business's normal dress code, you're right to go smart. Aim for sleek for this role: heels, if you're wearing trousers make them slim and if it's a dress or skirt it should be fitted/pencil.

I don't like the Joules jacket upthread: it's a bit gymkhana for me. Go for black or grey, and go fitted.

Try to avoid stuff that will date you, e.g. sheer black tights. OK for the under 25s, but otherwise frumpy. Also, air hostess style scarves.

Good luck. I hope you get it.

kirroyal Wed 02-Mar-16 08:37:46

Oh I had no idea tan was no good for winter.
Ok, I have these too (someone who got them in a press sale gave them to me). But is it a bit flashy to turn up in Louboutin's? I wish they didn't have that red sole!

Nettletheelf, I'm glad you mentioned tights, hadn't though of that. Should it be nude, or opaque black?

Nettletheelf Wed 02-Mar-16 14:31:21

Wear those. They are gorgeous (if you can walk in them). I wish my friends got free Louboutins through work. They look like they are made of charcoal grey fabric? So nude, not opaque black, which only work with black shoes.

Diddlydokey Wed 02-Mar-16 14:41:00

Just go very classic. Those shoes are great as long as you can walk in the heel

A black dress like this is appropriate and wear a smart cardi if you don't like a jacket

www.next.co.uk/x572080s1

uk.monsoon.co.uk/view/product/uk_catalog/mon_1,mon_1.6/9518340720

DaphneWhitethigh Wed 02-Mar-16 15:20:59

I agree. If, and only if, you can walk in the Louboutins then I'd go with them, nude tights, tailored a-line grey dress and navy jacket. Can you get to a big department store and try on every tailored work dress they possess?

To my mind a work coat needs buttons rather than zip, no hood, and not obviously made of anything you could go hiking in. That may be overly conservative though.

specialsubject Wed 02-Mar-16 15:35:38

I withdraw my advice about shoes if that's what you wear; if you can walk and not stagger/waddle in them then fine.

why not tan shoes in winter? Of course tan suede isn't practical but those are not shoes for practicality!

kirroyal Thu 03-Mar-16 09:32:11

Glad the shoes get your approval! I can just about walk in them alright. Thank-you for all your advice, it made shopping so much less stressful, knowing what to look for.
I couldn't find any dresses or skirts that fit and didn't make me look really dowdy. But I found a black suit from mango that seems to fit alright -this and this. and I've got a top like this.

What do you think? Ok?

RoganJosh Thu 03-Mar-16 09:36:41

I think that seems great. Did you still want to quirk it up a bit? Do you need interesting scarf/bag or something?

kirroyal Thu 03-Mar-16 10:04:31

Yes, need to quirk it up. Don't have the budget to buy a new bag. But an interesting scarf or jewellery would be good. Scarf guidance would be good - is it something you keep on the whole time, or take off with your coat? What kind of material?

specialsubject Thu 03-Mar-16 15:18:19

warning; unpopular opinion coming....the shoes look daft like all teetering heels, but as long as you can walk properly in them no-one will notice. If you waddle and clump like most heel wearers, instant notice and instant laughing stock. Also you don't want to be going A over T with interview nerves adding to the pain.

extreme example, but I saw Lady Gaga 'sing' on some show and she had to be carried off the stage as her shoes were so stupid she couldn't actually move in them. Presumably also glued on as otherwise she might have had the sense to take them off. It always looks sad when you see a woman's feet and calves straining in the ghastly six inch heels that are now about, and of course it always shows on the face which is why all celebs fish-pout rather than smile.

like all clothes; make sure you wear them, not the other way round.

and best of luck with the job, more importantly! (love to know what it is but that's plain nosey)

kirroyal Thu 03-Mar-16 18:00:52

specialsubject - you're preaching to the converted re heels, I got married in flipflops! I've got great visions of me doing some spectacular tumble and being carried out of the offices by security now! Thanks!

kirroyal Thu 10-Mar-16 15:05:09

Just wanted to say thanks for the advice again. I don't know if I have got the job yet but I did get a second interview, and I managed to dress myself appropriately for that without panicking! Oh, and I didn't fall over in my heels smile

gladyoucame Thu 10-Mar-16 16:59:00

Great news you got a second interview. Hope you get the job (if you want it)smile

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