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Interview attire! Is it ok not to wear a suit?

(39 Posts)
llamasinpyjamas Sun 11-Jan-15 16:55:36

I have an interview in a couple of weeks for an office-based consultant role. I'm familiar with the environment already as a friend works for this company, and she reckons the usual everyday outfit for women is plain trousers or skirt with a pretty blouse, tunic or plain-ish sweater, while most of the men wear smart jeans.

I never ever wear suits (would have to buy one especially) and tend to prefer darker trousers or skirts with monotone or single colour tops - I have bug hips, a slim tummy and big bust so don't tend to go for patterned tops! Would a smart top and black or navy trousers with heels be ok or does it absolutely have to be a suit for interviews? (It's about 8 years since I had my last formal interview!) I know I'd feel uncomfortable in a suit and that puts me off wearing one!

Thanks in advance!

cashmerecardigans Sun 11-Jan-15 17:15:43

I've not worn a suit for an interview for years. I've gone for a smart dress (longish sleeves and knee length with nude tights and fab shoes) or well tailored black trousers, top and killer heels. Have to say I'm not really a suit person. - I struggle with jackets full stop. Depends on the job and environment though, so you need to fit with that. Best advice ever from a friend in HR - fit in for the interview and wear what you want when you have the job. Good luck!

crapcrapcrapcarp Sun 11-Jan-15 17:20:15

For my most recent interview I wore a plain white shirt, smart navy trousers and a teal blazer, with a chunky necklace. I'd have felt weird in a suit.

Chaseface Sun 11-Jan-15 17:23:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

llamasinpyjamas Sun 11-Jan-15 17:28:41

Thanks these are all really useful pieces of info! I have no idea what the people interviewing me are likely to be wearing as they are mostly coming from a different branch of the company apparently. As I'm quite big busted and am under 5 feet dresses tend to make me look like one of the seven dwarves but I could wear a skirt I guess!

CointreauVersial Sun 11-Jan-15 17:44:16

I would be guided by your friend. It doesn't sound as if a suit will be necessary, as long as you look smart, professional and well-presented. Better that you feel comfortable and confident in whatever you choose.

Bowchickawowow Sun 11-Jan-15 17:46:59

I have never worn a suit for an interview, and am currently at senior management level - I normally go for a very smart dress and shoes. People really notice shoes.

Stoneysilence Sun 11-Jan-15 17:48:50

What industry? In digital/creative I hardly ever see women wearing suits to work anymore...the only person I know who does is a VP at a City bank. But then I have another friend with a similar or comparable role and she just wears smart dresses. I think you won't go wrong with a smart dress, statement necklace (how statementty depends ion your industry) and shoes, tights and a jacket.

Older Sun 11-Jan-15 17:50:35

I've never owned or worn a suit. All the managers at work wear a mix of smart dresses or skirts/trousers. Not a single business suit in sight. I think they are pretty dated and probably only used by legal profession?

toffeeboffin Sun 11-Jan-15 18:06:49

Try and dress as if you work there already, if they look at you and think you look like you would 'fit' , you are halfway there.

You already know the dress code, so just copy that look. If you were going for a job in a skateboard shop, you would try and look skater-ish.

PigletJohn Sun 11-Jan-15 18:29:03

IMO it is OK to dress just a bit smarter than the person interviewing you, to show you've made an effort. It is useful to hang around at going-home time beforehand to see how they're turned out.

If you are dressed much better or more stylishly, you may make them uncomfortable.

Even if the job requires you to wear a boiler suit, or jeans, or a thong, or a diving suit, it would not be suitable for the interview.

Artandco Sun 11-Jan-15 18:34:31

I would wear a dress and blazer. It's a step down from full suit but smart

carlywurly Sun 11-Jan-15 19:54:40

I interview a lot and rarely see anyone in a suit. I haven't worn one for years myself either. I wouldn't know where to buy one these days - next or m&s maybe.
I vote smart dress and heels or top and skirt or smart trousers, with some nice jewellery and a decent bag.

llamasinpyjamas Sun 11-Jan-15 20:03:41

Thanks everyone you've all been really helpful! I'd love to wear a dress but as I never do, I think smart trousers, top and necklace etc it is, as I know I'd feel weird wearing a dress! I am feeling much more relaxed about it all now - thank you!

frankietwospots Sun 11-Jan-15 20:44:11

I'd encourage you to wear a jacket/blazer if possible. It really annoys me when people turn up for interviews wearing a dress and a cardi (it's a job interview, not a fucking picnic). I like the sound of what you are suggesting - smart trousers, top and necklace - but if you can, just add a jacket to finish it off. I haven't worn a suit for years either.

PigletJohn Sun 11-Jan-15 21:02:35


flowery Sun 11-Jan-15 21:06:01

My advice is always to dress one notch smarter than you would to do the actual job.

Suits not common any more other than in very conservative professions, and even then, less than they were.

Dress and jacket would be my choice.

PrimalLass Sun 11-Jan-15 21:46:32

I have one next week too. Last interview I work smart trousers and a lace top. I don't really want to go and buy a blazer so might tey and get away with trousers, blouse, heels, necklace.

MakeMeWarmThisWinter Sun 11-Jan-15 23:04:18

I agree with frankietwospots - a dress and a jacket is a great look for interview, a dress and cardi is not.

A good jacket in black is something you'll have forever even if you wear it rarely. Try Jigsaw.

And height is no reason at all not to wear a dress! Get thee to a John Lewis and grab armfuls of dresses you fancy, or book one of their personal shoppers to do it for you. The perfect dress is out there for you.

PrimalLass Sun 11-Jan-15 23:06:35

Have ordered a couple of jackets. I look awful with black next to my face though, so not black.

Brookville Sun 11-Jan-15 23:22:12

I would generally always wear a jacket to interview. It doesn't have to match your trousers (so not technically a suit) but I do think it makes a big difference in terms of the impression you give: smart and professional, and how you feel: more confident and self possessed. You don't want anyone to think you're less than professional regardless of the day to day office dress code.

toastandmarmiterocks Sun 11-Jan-15 23:22:45

I echo everyone who has said a dress & jacket. Neat & clean hair and nails too.

Just wondering about shoes. Killer heels seem quite flashy. I know it depends on the job. What would you wear on your feet for a nursing position say?

BackforGood Sun 11-Jan-15 23:36:47

I agree with everyone saying you need to be smarter than you would to do the actual job - you need to show this really matters to you, and you've made a particular effort.

That has to include a jacket IMO - whether that's a suit or a blazer or similar over a dress, skirt or trousers is up to you, but definitely a jacket.

Rule of thumb, if you are ever unsure, is to go for a level 'smarter' or 'more formal' than you think - no-one is going to penalise you for wearing a suit to an interview, but there will be people who will mark you down for not 'making much effort'.

MakeMeWarmThisWinter Sun 11-Jan-15 23:41:43

I have been to interviews fairly recently and worn a dress and jacket. The job itself wouldn't involve wearing a jacket and would necessitate flat shoes. I still wore heels for the interview - just lowish black suede ones. Actually fake suede ones, about £12 from Peacocks. The interviews were for temporary type posts but a senior level and I got both jobs and felt appropriately dressed at interview.

Wideeyedandclueless Mon 12-Jan-15 07:00:14

I've had a few interviews recently and have worn a dress very similar to this dress with a thin tan belt, a cream tailored jacket with navy trim, nude tights and plain black heels, for jobs wearing a uniform.

(Good luck)

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