Tuesday, January 28, 2014

suit up

Well I never thought that the topic of "interview attire" would bubble up so many emotions in me… but boy oh boy it did! Trust me, I have already gotten most of my pant suit dislike out by venting to Tyler (poor dear)… but somehow I still have more to talk about:

1. Maybe I shouldn't have called the occasion I wore this outfit to an "informal interview" - I had been asked to tour the school, a place I am interested in working in the future, & meet with some of the teachers. It was a pre-pre-pre-interview. I felt very comfortable in what I was wearing, I mirrored what other teachers were wearing & in fact what the founder of the school, that I met with during my visit, was wearing. It was during this encounter that I was invited to be involved in a formal interview for a position next school year & also given an offer for some internship/shadowing opportunities over the coming months. But seriously y'all, my query for interview tips had nothing to do with what I was wearing in that post… 

2. Furthermore, it makes me feel icky that in this day & age (it's 2014 people) women still have to dress up like men (i.e. wear a suit) to prove that we are "powerful", "professional" & fit for a job. I didn't wear a suit to my graduate school interviews. In fact I wore a fabulous pair of wide leg trousers, cashmere blazer & silk shell, with my 4 inch heel patent leather pumps. I got accepted at every school I applied, with competitive scholarships, the highest they offered, to boot. I refuse to believe that what I wear on the outside will ever outshine what I am bringing to the table on the inside. Maybe that is naive, cocky, or just plain ignorant, but I have yet to run across an instance where I have ever felt "inappropriately" dressed.

3. But yea - I get it. There is a system in place, & sometimes my "screw The Man" attitude makes it hard for me to play by the rules…. however, I assure you I can. Since my feelings about pant suits are less than rainbows & sunshine, I do not own one. I tossed my last pair of black dress pants in the great purge last month - they were so outdated, a remnant from a high school internship (yuck!). 

So where do I find appropriate formal interview attire? Suit & Sweet is where. Perfectly tailored Theory suit separates, delivered to your door, ready to help you feel the extra boost of confidence to ROCK the interview. Yup, rental suits! All the style, but without dropping the big bucks for something you wear only a few times a year. Their expert styling tips will prepare you for what to expect, even if you've been out of the game for many years (like me!). I also love that the Suit & Sweet teams donates the gently used suits to disadvantaged women looking for their own meaningful career.
all photos | Zipporah Photography

I chose the cropped trouser pants, something a little different!
And while I do like full jacket + pants look, I'm thinking that I am going to go with the sheath dress + blazer look for my big day! 
So do you ever have to "suit up" for your job?
What are other things that you wear to feel "professional" besides a full suit?

When it all boils down to it, I believe, "look your best, perform your best". (Was I the only one that in college fixed my hair & changed out of my sweatpants before tests because I always totally brought it when I did?)


  1. When I meet the CEO of DSW. I wore a black pencil skirt, black blazer, a pink dress shirt with a flower belt closing my blazer. I own a lot of black dress pants only because at the time my job called for it. I think the blue dress and blazer is a prefect interview outfit. Also I never thought about renting a suit. I don't own a suit but have piece in my closet to make a suit if I ever need one.

  2. My job is more business casual (in the South), however I do try to look nicer for an interview and having a versatile piece is important! Plus you never know when a suit will come in handy. I have one and wear just the jacket with different pants sometimes.

    xo, Lee

    Everyday Fashion

  3. This is a great, great idea! I truthfully don't own a suit, so I don't know what I would do if I had to go on an interview where one was needed. I have a lot of work separates, though!

  4. Hi Jessica. I hadn't been here in a while but as always you are always looking chic and beautiful. Cobalt/Royal Blue suits you so well. I love it paired with Black, too. Both of these Outfits are great for successful interviews and an office environment. The Dress and those Color-blocked Tan+Black Pumps are perfection.

    And I do believe that when you look your best, you perform your best as well. Great quote.

    I, too am wearing Cobalt/Royal Blue today. Check out my colorful Sweater Dress. And I'd love for you to stop by the blog tomorrow and link up with me for the first time. I'd love to see you there.

    Thank you & Happy Tuesday, Ada. =)

  5. wow both of these outfits look amazing on you! i always felt really uncomfortable wearing suits, especially the jacket but this looks great on you!

  6. I work in public relations and frequently suit up for client meetings because my clients are mostly members of "the old boys' club." I actually like wearing suit-like attire, possibly because I competed in Speech and Debate in high school and wore a suit every weekend. For less formal meetings and networking events, I stick to pencil skirts or dress pants and nice tops with memorable accessories.

    I love the look of a classic blazer paired with a sheath dress, I think it's feminine and professional.

  7. The cut of those pants is a million times better than what usually comes to mind when I think 'pantsuit'.

  8. I totally understand your frustration. I think I mentioned this in my comment on your "pre-pre-pre-interview" post, but in law school EVERYONE tells you that you MUST wear a suit to interviews. And not even a fun suit. They recommend black or gray. And a plain button-up shirt. Well, you read my blog, so you know that's not "me." I try my best to do my version of the "rules," but I can't help but throw in some red shoes or a lace top or something. I just try to remind myself that not everyone is as fashion forward as I am (and you are), and it would be a shame if I was just remembered as "the girl with that distractingly large necklace." Then again, a little something memorable might help me stand out from the crowd of black suits.

    Anyway, I don't know if any of this is helpful to you since you're not interviewing at law firms. I did spend 4 years between undergrad and law school out in the "real world" and I never wore suits. I dressed more you did for your grad school interviews. So don't feel like you need to throw out your personality and your feminism! That said, you look pretty damn good in that suit :)

    ~Sarah of Sarah's Real Life

  9. I've never had to 'suit up' for anything, but I mirror your sentiments on suits! Despite that, though, you look amazing in a suit :)

  10. I have to "suit up" for any big event we have at work. I don't have to wear a traditional suit, but I have to be professional and clean-cut and a well fitting blazer must be on my shoulders. If I wear a dress, or trousers, or an interesting shirt, or a fun scarf is at my discretion. I did wear a suit for my interview because I received the tip that we would have to wear suits certain days at work.

  11. In that suit (with its super chic pants), you would be the best dressed person in a HS interview. And your future students will LOVE your non-suit style!

    It could be worse, the academic humanities, this is recommended: grey or brown suit (not black, too severe)...stylish blouse in a not too bright color, stockings or tights in a neutral shade, leather (not faux) pumps with a 1-3 inch heel, and conservative jewelry. Blech.

    That said, I have a pants suit - it blue and from Italy and I love it (which I was NOT expecting)!

  12. I love being able to wear business casual to work and the fact that I don't own a pantsuit, but you look awesome in one! Haha. Being in grad school, we had a woman in the field come and talk to our class one night. She said to always wear your highest heels and in a lot of ways it was degrading. Her other tips included "think like a man," and the most important thing you can do is moisturize. She was terrible!



  13. As much as pant suits suck, I have to say, you are killing that one. You look incredible! xx


  14. You also have to consider the profession, which really does make a difference. In corporate America, I'm sure there's one way to do things, but if you're working in the "trenches" of education (my favorite place to be), then the game is played differently. Honestly, it depends on the district and school, but for many teaching positions, it's impractical to wear a full suit in the classroom. Why spend all of that money on a power suit when you WON'T wear it in the classroom? As a teacher, you want to look more polished and approachable than "powerful." I think your approach (separates/renting a suit) is the perfect fit. Yes, pun intended. Great post, and those pants look awesome on you. You should actually keep them. :)

  15. They are the "Blakeley" style from SoleSociety. Looks like the black & tan color is currently sold out, but it might be worth stalking for a re-stock here: http://www.solesociety.com/blakeley-black-crema-blue.html

  16. I occasionally have to suit up but I hate suits too, so I usually go with the dress/jacket route.

    Kristina does the Internets

  17. I actually don't have a problem with the pant suit. I think they can actually look great on women and definitely give them a more powerful/professional look. HOWEVER, the pant suit has to fit perfectly. I think it needs to be tailored and obviously the right cut and style which is different for everybody. I think where a lot of women go wrong is they don't get the right fit and therefore look outdated and ugly.

    I think it totally depends on your job too. In education I think there is a lot more flexibility and you definitely don't need to wear a pant suit all the time. In a profession that is male dominated I feel suit options might be more appropriate. So I think it's a good idea to have one great suit in your closet and the rest can be a collection of separates.

  18. LIKE A BOSS! Love this post, Jess. I went to law school, where suits during presentations, interviews and internships were a must. But then I changed career paths to a more creative environment. I've been holding on to my suits for way too long and this post inspired me to let them go.

    xo Jen
    Skirt The Rules

  19. Any industry/job I've applied to or worked in didn't require a full suit, just a pencil skirt or business pants. You do look great in formal work wear, though- lucky!

  20. I almost didn't recognize you in the power suit! I really like what you chose for your big interview, it's just so YOU which is perfect to show yourself for your big day!
    Exploring My Style

  21. I stick to dresses and add a blazer if I have to go to a big meeting at my job! I'll occasionally go with trousers but I don't tend to wear a blazer when I do unless they're ankle-length. It just feels too masculine. However, I do work in a more casual environment in the arts and culture/nonprofit sector so I have a bit more room in my options.


  22. I never wear dress pants so I feel ya! I am a skirt girl all the way!

  23. Great post! I agree 100%! I think that sometimes you just can't avoid wearing a suit to give a speech or at an interview. The only problem I have is whenever I try to wear a blazer this a dress (similar to the blue one you had on), I feel like the bottom of the blazer always hits too low because I am very petite and have a shorter torso and then I just look like I have football player shoulders. For those of us that want a basic in our closet for years to come...are there any reasonably priced cropped fitted blazers out there? I haven't come across any that aren't too short or too long or are professional enough for that work event. Thanks!


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