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 Pack For a Summer Working Abroad

what to pack for a summer working abroadToday’s reader mail has to do with a summer abroad…

I’m a second-year law student and will be spending part of my summer interning for a government agency in Slovenia, and the rest at a study abroad program in London. My dilemma is that I only have a limited amount of space in my luggage (particularly due to the strict weight limits on European flights) and I need to pack for essentially three different trips: business, school, and backpacking (I’m going to be doing a lot of travel on the weekends). I’m lucky in that the place where I’ll be working only requires business casual, but considering that it is an Eastern European country, I don’t know quite what that might entail. I’m thinking I’ll definitely have to dress more conservatively than I would in the U.S. at the very least. Any suggestions would be welcome, particularly involving shirts I can wear to work and not look too dressy wearing them to school as well. My one limitation: please no button-ups! I’m what you would call a “busty” girl and button-ups never end well with me. Thank you so much for any advice you can give!

what to pack for a summer abroadFirst: we must confess, we’ve never worked in Slovenia or backpacked through Europe. Very exciting… as a luggage problem. We would recommend investing in silk t-shirts. Not the sweater kind, but the kind that feel like nylon almost. These can be hard to find, and aren’t necessarily expensive — of the few that we have, one was purchased at an Henri Bendel sample sale, one at Off Fifth, and the others at the Limited about fifteen years ago (ouch). The great thing about these shirts is that they dry uber-fast — perfect for stuffing in your bag to go backpacking — yet because they’re silk they look great under a suit jacket. For example, check out the Eileen Fisher Cap Sleeve Silk Tee at Nordstrom (pictured at right) for $88. Be sure to check out places like Travel Smith, which specializes in fabrics that travel well, breathe easily, and wash and dry quickly. (They even have a new outlet section.) Check out their dress selection, especially — some of them will work both for the office as well as for a a restaurant meal while traveling, such as the Microfiber Dress (for $89). Be sure to check out camping and other specialty stores for pieces that can do double-duty — EMS (check out the knee-length ExOfficio Women’s Savvy Dress Up for $60), REI (check out the Acme Pants, on sale for $109 — be sure to try them on to make sure they don’t sound like track pants when you walk) and other similar places. [Read more…]

Building Your Wardrobe for a 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 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…]