Fashion by Felicia
Felicia Caponigri | Thursday, January 26, 2012
It is an undeniable fact of our fashionable life that every fashionista has a pet peeve: something that drives her off her style rocker. I am no exception. More than mermaid tails on gowns (always strut, never waddle), cheap fabric (uncomfortable and unsophisticated), and large bows (what am I, a present?), I loathe interview outfits.
As our Notre Dame Career Fair approaches, I am overcome with dread. Picking out an outfit for this circus is more complicated than negotiating a peace treaty at the Hague.
What do I want to project to this potential employer: who I am, my strengths? Do I emphasize my boldness or play down my fashion sense to emphasize my intelligence? Why are these two things mutually exclusive? To suit or not to suit? Is wearing a silk scarf too exotic? A briefcase or a purse with portfolio?
And let’s not forget the shoes! I know you, fellow fashionistas, understand my plight. We are in a precarious position. We are on the cusp of adulthood (actual employment) and at the zenith of our youth.
And unless you’re interviewing with a luxury brand goods company who prides itself on innovation, a backless black linen halter dress with red patent leather shoes, purse, and belt (yes, I did wear that to an interview, with great success I might add) is not going to cut it.
So, what are we to do? Clearly, break the cookie cutter mold, and show those interviewers the tiramisu they’ve been missing. We need new fashion ingredients to redefine the Career Fair Fashion recipe.
No. 1: Suits are optional
There was a time (circa Working Girl) when we women felt the need to prove we could occupy the same playground as our male colleagues. We hid our femininity under boxy blazers and pencil skirts. No more. Wearing a dress or even walking shorts with a blazer communicates your ability to think outside the box. When your employer needs a new spin on that marketing plan, they’ll know who to turn to. If you do feel more comfortable in a suit, pick a flattering cut. For pants, make them skinny, don’t drown in boot cut. Make sure the blazer emphasizes your waist, not your shoulders.
No. 2: Color is Your Friend
Imagine how many people will be standing in line in front of you. Twenty, thirty? How do you expect to make an impression on an interviewer if you’re just one of many in black? Sure, you can talk up your experience, but give them visual cues to match you to your résumé. A red dress, a bright electric blue blazer, even a patterned blouse will get you the attention and remembrance you deserve.
No. 3: Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize
I once had an employer tell me the reason I received an assignment was because he was impressed by the way I coordinated my outfits. I swear. He said that if I paid that much attention to the detail of my ensemble, he could only imagine how detail-oriented I would be on the project. Clearly, he was a very smart man.
No. 4: Streamline shoes
Heels are a must, but don’t go out and buy the token, clunky interview pair. Wear heels you’ve worn before, that you feel comfortable in, to which you’ve attached good memories. And they don’t need to be black! It will make standing on your own two feet, literally and figuratively, much easier in a stressful situation. And with that, you are woman, go roar.
Contact Felicia Caponigri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.