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Cultivating a Deliberate Wardrobe : Interview Ready!

Resume?: Check!

Cover Letter?: Check!

GPS?: Check!

Can-Do Attitude?: Check!

Now that I’ve set myself up a life here in Philadelphia, it’s time to find employment (I know, the fun part…)!  It has felt strange to be out of work for a couple of weeks – I have enjoyed the rejuvenation time, of course – but now it’s time to jump back into the saddle and go, go, go!

When I came to Philadelphia, I had a couple ideas as to what I would like to apply for and which companies I would enjoy being affiliated with.  After sending countless cover letters, resumes, and emails as well as a handful of phone calls, the interviews began.  And when the interviews began, my bedroom soon resembled my bedroom of yesteryear, as though the teenaged Amber was suddenly back in full swing as I tossed outfit after outfit from my closet onto the bed, armchair, ground…

I am certain that most of you have skimmed what Google search has to offer for “what to wear for an interview” and “what not to wear for a job interview”, so I’ll try to avoid the bare bones that those articles are so good at underlining.  Women have a vast amount of options when it comes to dressing for an interview and I know from personal experience that sometimes those options are overwhelming to the point of anxiety.  With this post, I’ll highlight what has always worked for me when it comes to choosing clothing for an interview.

I’m a creative person (people tend to tell me this, at least), and creatives tend to dress with their hearts on their sleeves.  I have no problems with this, and I went through quite a binge clothing stage (in fact there many have been a couple of those stages) in order to put forward a projection of the person I wanted the world to see.  However, now that I’ve simplified my life – including my closet – it’s more difficult to wear the clothing that would reflect what I’m feeling that day.  Instead, I’ve taken to cultivating neutrals, as discussed here.

I see neutrals as a palette to work with.  I see them as a fresh canvas.  I have found that dressing simply allows a sparkly personality to shine.  Neutrals, especially for an interview situation, are a perfect way to showcase one’s personality and skills without being encumbered by flashy or distracting clothing.

With blonde hair and a (very) fair complexion, I tend to lean toward black when dealing with monochromes.  Flattering and straightforward, the black clothing in my wardrobe is my go-to when interviewing.  It’s easily dressed up with a pretty pair of heels and a lovely necklace or bracelet.  Today’s interviews took place in near 90-degree weather, so I opted for a pretty black tunic-tank top from Ann Taylor and Prima black pants with salmon colored Jeffery Campbell heels as an accent piece.  Today I wore simple jewelry so as not to distract from the overall simplicity of the outfit – a sterling silver necklace Sawyer got me for our anniversary with the longitude and latitude of Burlington VT engraved on the front, an embossed bracelet depicting the Little Dipper that I received from Katie as a going-away gift, and a pair of stone inlay rings (one for each hand).  Last week, I wore a black knit top from Joah Brown, black suit pants from Express, and a chunky but beautiful necklace with black hightop heels.  IMG_6688.jpg

When you’re appreciated for something other than your appearance, you feel more accomplished than when receiving the absent minded “I like your blouse” or “you look nice today”.  With a neutral palette, one can actually force the attention of another to focus on the interaction with, rather than the appearance of, the person they’re speaking with.  As college degrees become less and less distinguished and “who the person is” continues to claim the power seat, forced focus on your psychological rather than physical attributes has certainly led me to more successes than failures when it comes to the interview process.

You don’t need to lead a minimalistic lifestyle to create a deliberate interview-ready wardrobe.  If you think neutral, simple attire, you will be able to mix together a selection that will not only allow your skills and personality to lead the way, you’ll also feel comfortable taking the spotlight knowing that you’ve made a choice to highlight your character rather than your fashion sense.

Neutrals don’t work for everyone, nor do they need to.  I’d love to hear what you’ve worn to interviews to feel confident and in control!

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