Emmanuelle Alt

As a woman with a relatively senior job in the fashion industry, I’m often asked questions relating to the business of fashion. Included in the mix are often style how-to’s – whether it’s a college student looking for their first job, or a more senior candidate transitioning to what’s widely considered to be a glamour industry. And while there’s a wealth of guidance online on how to dress for a job interview, that advice often skews a little traditional, a little boring and not at all appropriate for work in a creative field.

If you’re in the market for a fashion gig, here’s what you need to know about interview-appropriate style before stepping into the office of a potential employer:

  • As my friend Amber often says, KYA. That’s “Know Your Audience“, friends – and in practice, it means understanding a brand or organization’s aesthetic prior to stepping into the building. Interviewing at Ralph Lauren? Classic American sportswear with a hint of prep would be a solid bet. Interviewing at ultra-forward mag BULLETT? Common sense dictates an edgier look. It’s easier to envision a potential hire in a role if they look the part – true, whether it’s fair or not.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative, and to showcase your personal style – in less traditional offices, those are attributes to be admired. Frankly, if a candidate showed up in a traditional suit or simple sheath, I’d worry that she/he wasn’t creative enough and/or wouldn’t be a good fit for the team – in a team-centric environment, that’s the kiss of death.
  • That said, be APPROPRIATE – think polished and respectful. Super casual elements – i.e. a cotton sundress or wedge sneaker – make me wonder if you put any effort in at all, and HELLO, lack of effort is never a good look.
  • Jewelry or shoes are a great place to show a little (or a lot of) personality. Consider one statement-making piece and balance that with more classic choices, i.e. a chronograph watch and stud earrings. The one caveat? Avoid ultra-high platforms – they tend to look more at home in a club than an office. That said, a high heel of up to 4″ is welcome and even de rigeur in fashion – your posture will thank you!
  • Never understimate the importance of good grooming – read: a fresh, unchipped manicure or clean, buffed nails, tidy hair and fresh makeup.

In case you’re wondering what I’d wear on an interview, the slideshow above should give you a good idea – my meeting staples include:

  • Edgy yet polished jackets
  • Silk blouses in bold colors or prints, sometimes with feminine details
  • A clean, well cut trouser or skinny jean (well cut, dark rinse denim is suitable for all occasions in my book)
  • Statement-making shoes
  • A structured satchel, large enough for documents and/or my MacBook Air

Do you have any other tips to share on interview dressing? Tell me all in the comments.

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