Corporette 101: The Old Mirror Trick

chair and mirror 007Whenever you have a seriously important professional day — for example, an interview — you need to be wearing your most conservative, “notice my brains not my fashion sense” outfit. This means, unfortunately, that you need to be sure you know how the suit you wear looks from all angles. How does it look if you need to reach across a table or desk to point to something? How does it look from the back — is there a slit in the skirt that goes too high? And finally — deathly important for interviews — how does your skirt suit look when you’re sitting down? Can you cross your legs, or do you show too much thigh?

Most women are well acquainted with checking their outfit out in the mirror before they run out the door, but for interview outfits you need to go even further. Pull a chair over to a full-length mirror and sit down in it — note how high your skirt goes when you sit. If you think you might be stooping at all during the day (to pick up papers or materials on the floor), do that as well. Basically, any possible action you might take during the day should be vetted between you and the mirror, to make sure you won’t be embarrassed.

Reader Mail: How to Wear Silk Scarves?

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Tonal Hydrangea Silk Scarf
Today’s reader mail is all about scarves… (Pictured: Tonal Hydrangea Silk Scarf, on sale at Brooks Brothers for $95.20 (was $238).)

I’ve got two silk scarves I bought because I fell in love with them, and one black tie. I never wear them, because I’ve no idea how one is supposed to wear it! Besides, can a woman in her early 20s even pull off that look without looking like an in-flight attendant? If yes, are they supposed to go on the neck under the shirt (I’ve seen that look a few times), over the shirt and under its collar? Does one knot them or just let them hang down, if one knots them – does it matter how?

We used to work with a woman who always wore the most beautiful Hermes scarves — her wardrobe was primarily black, white, and gray, and the scarves were a rich addition of colors and patterns. She had one that had elements of a beautiful, almost hot pink, and it was incredibly flattering on her, particularly so close to her face — but because it was just a scarf, and amidst other colors, no one ever would have said that the scarf was too pink or girly or feminine. We asked her about her scarves once, and she confided to us that she wore them because she found tags at the nape of her neck to be itchy. Her scarves absolutely worked for her — and although she was at a senior level, we think the fact that they worked had more to do with her body type: tall and slender. (Specifically, she would wear them with a collared jacket and collar-less sweater or tee, worn between her jacket’s collar and her tee’s collar — they were unknotted and, while we think they were generally square scarves, she wore them folded into an oblong shape.) [Read more…]

Poll: When Wearing a Collared Shirt and Blazer, Does the Collar Go Out or In?

We’ve been curious about this for a while — ever since we advised that a collared shirt should always stay IN if you’re wearing a suit, and numerous readers wrote to say that they had always been advised (by various career counselors) to wear their collars out. So we thought we’d take a poll.

collars in or out madonna-in-business-suit

For our $.02 — which purely comes from observation, as we have never heard a “rule” on it — a tucked-in collar looks better with a suit. More fashionable women tend to do it (Angelina, Madonna) when wearing a suit; and it gives them a neat, sharp look. It also puts the emphasis in the desired place, as our eyes are drawn to their face, not their clavicle or shoulders. We suppose it’s possible that there are greater rules here that we’re not aware of, for example dealing with fabric (cotton goes in, silk goes out) or the type of collar or lapel. Perhaps it’s a regional rule — e.g., in DC, collars go out with suits; in Hollywood, collars go in with suits. Either way, we thought we’d start a dialog…

Readers, what say you? Please comment, particularly if you choose #3…
shirt

Building Your Wardrobe for the Summer Internship

picture-2We’ve had a number of requests for how to build your wardrobe for a summer internship, so ladies, this one’s for you!

Suits. Yes, you will need more than one suit, but not as many as you think. For example, readers asked if they needed 10-15 suits (and we’re hoping the person asking if they needed 100 suits either made a typo or was exaggerating). We would say you need about 3-5 suits, to be worn whenever you know for sure you’ll be seeing a partner, executive, or other VIP that day. Keep an extra suit in your office if at all possible. Your basic suits should be:

1) Your standard interview suit in black, navy, or gray. Hopefully you took our advice and got it in a seasonless fabric, and you bought a suit that had multiple matching pieces (e.g., a jacket, pants, skirt, and a dress). Get them drycleaned as soon as they begin to smell, or approximately every 4-5 wearings.

2) As many other suits that your budget can afford that are like your interview suit, but in other colors — these suits will last you for several years, so it’s well worth it to invest $500-$1000 in suiting. If you can’t afford suits as nice as your interview suit, check out sales as well as: [Read more…]

What to Wear When You’re Laid Off and Looking

We’ve been mulling this reader’s question for a while now… first, here’s the request:

My work wardrobe after 30 years is pretty set. However, I’m currently in recession mode, i.e. my job has been misplaced. I find that my non-work clothes are just not suitable for walking around in the supermarket, given that in my community (high tech in Silicon Valley) I might meet someone there who would hire me. So I want to upgrade what would be my weekend wardrobe (if I were working). Can you help? I have my dilemma posted here.  I hope this doesn’t take you beyond the scope of your blog, but once we get to the executive ranks, I have found that networking etc. can extend the requirements and definition of “professional style”.

We went to her website, and this is what she wore out to drinks with former coworkers: [Read more…]

Reader Mailbag Part I: What To Wear on Interviews Generally

Ellen Parsons took interviewing seriously… so should you!

Wow, it’s the start of the interview season already for those of you still in law school. Good luck! Stay tuned; we’re going to (try) to do a lot about interview tips and a guide to women’s suits. Immediately, though, we have this question from a reader named Summer:

I am a 3L law student looking to buy a nice conservative suit for interviews. I am also a big fan of corporette! I have looked around malls and nothing seems to be nice enough. The only thing that I have found in my size online is Talbots. I also ran across the site www.mycustomclothing.com. Do you think this site is legitimate? Do you have any other recommendations?

Thank you so much for your kind words! We’re not familiar with the site, but we wouldn’t recommend going with a custom suit for a big interview unless you already had a relationship with an amazing tailor. Our best advice with interviewing for conservative jobs is that the entire goal of your interview wardrobe should be to take the focus off your appearance and put the focus where it should be: on your mind, your accomplishments, and the way you carry yourself. You can show your personality, your taste, your quirky sense of humor — whatever! — later, after you’ve got the job. That said, we might suggest adhering to some simple guidelines when buying clothes for interviewing. [Read more…]