January 27th, 2011 § §
We recently received this reader question…
I have an on-campus interview (yay!) at a liberal arts college in a very cold climate. I just purchased a navy blue suit from J Crew: fitted blazer + pencil skirt. I’m going to pair this with a brightly colored shell of some sort and gray patent leather shoes. The problem is what to do with my legs. If I double up on tights, I think I’ll be sufficiently warm for brief jaunts outside. But what color tights would work best? Is black okay? Any suggestions you have you would welcome!
First of, congratulation on your campus interview! And we love the items you’ve chosen for this occasion: this navy J.Crew skirt (and matching blazer) and these grey patent leather Naot shoes. To winterize your legs, we agree that doubling up and layering tights might be a good idea. Now, as to what color tights to wear on the outside, here are a few suggestions:
Although we love how that navy skirt and grey patent leather shoes would look with a boldly hued pair of tights like this…
… we agree that the above combination might be best saved for a teaching day on campus. For that more formal interview attire, we would suggest opting for a more ‘conservative’ and ‘traditional’ color such as a navy or grey…
A pair of black tights may be too harsh with the lighter color shoe, while a grey or navy pair should blend more seamlessly with your skirt or footwear choice. Choosing a pair of tights in a neutral that picks up on the existing color scheme of your outfit should makes the tights fit right in with your look wihout drawing too much attention. And don’t forget to check how the pair of tights underneath affects the color of your top layer! This might be obvious but is worth stating in case your mind is on other interview related matters right now.
Lastly, we also think that a pair of open weave pattern tights layered over an opaque black pair of tights could create a subtle yet rich and interesting effect. It wouldn’t be too discernable from far away but would lend your outfit that extra bit of personality and individuality from up close.
What do you think, dear readers and fellow academics? What color tights would you recommend to for that polished and professional interview look? What have you worn for academic interviews in the past? Thank you as always for your contributions in the comments section! ~ Chics
Category: Interview Attire, Q&A, Uncategorized
Tags: academic fashion > tights
October 18th, 2010 § §
For the past two weeks, we have been exploring various aspects of interview attire. This is a hot topic here at Academichic and one to which we will continue to return. So far, we have shown you what we have worn for informal interviews, conference interviews, and on-campus interviews. Those of us not yet on the job market, have played around with what we might wear once we are there. We have asked you for advice on suit shopping and on what to do with tattoos, piercings, nail polish and hairstyles. And, in response to our CFP, we received a variety of past, present, and imagined interview ensembles.
For both an on-campus interview and two rounds of conference interviews, Emily wore this classic black suit with knee-high black boots and a colorful shell.
She shared her thoughts on the black interview suit:
People are down on the black suit. I am pro-black-suit, for a variety of reasons. First: I’m a New Yorker. I routinely pair black with black and more black. I think black looks great. Second, my research is very much at the edges of my discipline: my methods, my subjects, and my normative frameworks are very clearly stated, and none of them are things that my discipline takes seriously at first blush. Therefore, I want to be able to crib some of the seriousness of the “black-suit” framework. And, finally, as the wearing of knee-high boots might suggest, I want to work in a lot of more funky and relaxed elements–and, as with my work, I want to balance that out. I think I can get away with some funkier elements if I’m putting them alongside a black suit.
A-C wore this fabulous pinstriped suit for a law-firm interview, which she landed!
Kari of In Kari’s Wardrobe sent us three Interview ensembles:
1: Black pencil skirt, black blazer with two buttons, cobalt blue button-down woven shirt, red, white and brown abstract patterned scarf, small silver hoop earrings, nude microfishnet patterned hose, bright red patent leather pumps. This was the outfit she wore to interview for the job that she currently has.
2. Black pencil skirt, black blazer with two buttons, peacock blue button-down blouse with pussycat bow, freshwater pearl earrings, cream ruffled handbag, nude microfishnet patterned hose, bright red patent leather pumps.
3. Gray sheath dress with tie detail at neck, black two-button blazer cuffed to bracelet length sleeves, nude microfishnet patterned hose, burgundy pumps, pearl stud earrings.
Marie isn’t on the job market but is on the hiring committee for the position of speech-language pathologist at a public school, so she pulled together an outfit from her own wardrobe to show us what she would like to see an interviewee wear.
In her words:
The key ingredients are a fitted jacket, a tailored bottom, a good bag, and something (anything!) in which to take notes. Why, oh, why do so many applicants show up without any means of taking notes? Future applicants take note: take notes. If you are taking notes, it implies that you are seriously interested in the job. Make-up and hair should be neat and clean. A little something extra (scarf, great bag, statement necklace) will earn you bonus points on the forced-choice matrix. No, not really, but I do love to see a little personality from an applicant.
Recent college graduate Erin sent us a picture of herself in her favorite interview ensemble formula, taken after a great interview. She got the internship and loves it!
Green Cardigan: old school H&M
Checked blouse: Nordstrom Rack
Black Pencil Skirt: Forever 21 (their XXI Forever line is a little bit nicer and more resistant to instant deterioration)
Pink Ruffle Flats: Payless
Acrylic Cameo Brooch: LA Craft Fair
We LOVE how confident all of these ladies look in their chosen ensembles, proof positive that confidence is the very best interview accessory. Good luck to those of you currently job searching and interviewing. Please continue to send us your interview attire to share with readers.
Category: Interview Attire, Visiting Lecturer
October 14th, 2010 § §
Once you’ve chosen the perfect interview outfit, there are still a few other issues of self-presentation to consider. Is a black business suit and blue nail polish counterintuitive? Should you cover up the tattoo on your leg or remove your eyebrow ring? What about green hair? Would you remove your wedding ring?
Whatever personal reasons may exist for having a tattoo, a non-traditional piercing or hair color, or wearing a wedding band, the undeniable fact is that each of these choices do function as social markers, albeit fluid and sometimes unpredictable ones. And of course, meaning also shifts according to gender, ethnicity, age, and religion of both the interviewee and interviewer.
Per usual, a few preliminary musings:
But we want to open the floor up to you, our readers. Would you cover, remove, or change some aspect of your appearance for an interview? What’s your reasoning? What’s the threshold? We’d especially love to hear from folks who have been on hiring committees who may have particular insight on these questions from the other side!
Category: Interview Attire
October 13th, 2010 § §
- Shirt: Splendid via Filene’s Basement
- Sweater: Banana Republic Outlet
- Belt: Fossil
- Skirt: City Unltd. via Filene’s Basement
- Shoes: Frye
- Necklace: South Moon Under
While this outfit will not go down in the annals of Academichic history for being particularly fun, innovative, or stylish, it is what I wore for my on-campus interview for the job I currently hold. I should reiterate that I was NOT interviewing for the tenure track positions or professorial posts for which my co-bloggers will interview (and S. already has!). This outfit was put together with a small New England private school in mind, and having gone to such a school I had an inkling of what would be dressy enough and what would be seen as overkill.
My interview was in late April and happened to fall on the same week that I was defending my Masters’ thesis and was lecturing to the whole introductory course for which I was a TA. Needless to say this was a high-pressure week! I had picked out an outfit for defending my thesis weeks in advance (you know you’ve done that too!), but my interview was on short notice. I would also be teaching a sample lesson (a “job talk” in university parlance), so I needed something that would stand up in front of a room of teenagers in an 11th grade English class. I quickly packed a bag with this skirt and two shirt and sweater options – one was a lighter green tank with brown cardigan and then this combination of a brown t-shirt and green cardigan. I opted for the brown top because, like A. said, perspiration shows more on lighter colors — and I was fairly sure I was going to be just a little bit anxious.
I knew I wanted to wear flats, and thank goodness I did because I must have covered at least a mile shuttling between buildings and offices! Like I said, this was definitely not the cutest outfit in the world or the most interesting, but for a day full of interviews, a classroom of unknown 11th graders, and various tours around campus, this outfit held up, and I got the job!
Category: Interview Attire, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
Tags: belted > cardigan > floral skirt > full skirt > L.
October 12th, 2010 § §
- Suit Blazer – J Crew
- Skirt – Banana Republic
- Sweater – Banana Republic
- Scarf – gift
- Earrings – gift from A2
- Bangles- various
- Shoes – Banana Republic
Look 2 (below):
- Suit Blazer – J Crew
- Pants – Banana Republic
- Silk Shell – Banana Republic
- Shoes – Banana Republic
- Earrings – gift from A2
Thanks for all the great comments yesterday! Now back to our regular scheduled programing of Interview Attire. I didn’t mean to look quite so serious (even scared) in some of these pictures, but perhaps it is revealing some of my anxieties surrounding this whole topic of the job market!
I am still a little ways off from being officially on the job market, but lately, through our discussions here and with other graduate students, I’m realizing that the potential for impromptu interviewing is much more likely than I would have ever thought. So, it was actually really useful to go through my closet and pull together a couple fake interview looks.
I imagined that these are both looks that could work for on campus interviews or at a large conference like CAA, with a bit of tweaking. I’m not crazy about either of these looks in terms of appearance or practicality, but I felt much more comfortable in the pencil skirt and cuffed blazer combo. This is a fairly typical professional ensemble for me, if a bit toned down. I think there is something to be said for feeling confident and comfortable in your clothes. I hope to be interviewing for a smaller college at which teaching is a priority. I plan to apply for Art History jobs that would allow me to hold a joint appointment or teach cross listed course in Women and Gender Studies, but I am also keeping open the possibility of a job with a campus LGBT center (if any readers know of a job that fits this description willing to hire someone ABD, please do pass that info along!). I think this first outfit could work pretty much as is for an on-campus interview for any of those jobs.
I like that this outfit is within my comfort zone (since the interview process will likely take me out of that) and that it shows off a bit of my personality. I do worry that the open-toed shoes might not be appropriate, despite that fact that these are one of my most comfortable pairs of heels. One thing I learned from this exercise is that I need to find the perfect interview shoe — something stylish and comfortable, a heel but a walkable heel.
This second look, again with different shoes, would I think be more appropriate for the big conference, during which one might have multiple hotel-rrom interviews in one day. This is the closest thing to a suit I own. Like E., if and when I find my self scheduled for these kinds of interview, I will likely go suit shopping. Putting these looks together also got me thinking about this future suit shopping and what I would be looking for in a suit. I decided I want a not-to-dark navy suit or a slate grey suit (not a heathered one). Also, the pants better be perfect, or I want a skirt/dress option! Because of my proportions, I have a hard time with dress pants. I am now on the look out for a great suit sheath dress with an affordable price tag.
You will notice that I eschewed the button down in both of these ensembles. I personally love the way a crisp button down looks and think paired with a pencil skirt or suit pants it could make for a great professional look, but on interview day, you will never catch me in a button down. Here’s the deal, when I get nervous, I tend to sweat and button-downs are the worst for revealing perspiration. So, instead I opted for a sturdy knit in the first look and a sleeveless shell in the second, both in dark colors that don’t change much when damp. Ok, so now that I have revealed my fears and secrets, what about you? What do you think about when putting together your interview attire? Don’t forget to send us your best look for our Interview Attire Symposium
Category: Color Combinations, Conference Wear, Interview Attire, Layers Upon Layers, Mixing Patterns, Pants Please, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
Tags: A. > blazer > interview > job market > pencil skirt > suit
October 10th, 2010 § §
As we’ve said many times this week, we are certainly no experts on interview attire and are hoping that this series will allow some of us to share looks that have helped us land a job (Yay S. and L.) and for the rest of us experiment a bit before actually stepping out into the job market.
We have enjoyed hearing your thoughts on various matters, including suit shopping, surviving the academic pressure cooker (ie conference interviews), and appropriate footwear for campus interviews. We are looking forward to hearing more thoughts this coming week on things like visible tattoos, hairstyling, what to cary in your interview bag, etc.
Now, we want to see what your interview attire looks like! So, send us pictures and a description of your interview ensemble. Be sure to tell us what kind of job and what kind of interview the look is for. (We will also accept Polyvore screen shots). These can be past interviews, current interviews, or imagined future interviews!
The Interview Attire Symposium will be held Friday, October 15th so email your submissions by midnight on Thursday, October 14th to:
Category: Calls for Papers, Conference Wear, Interview Attire
Tags: interviews > suits
October 6th, 2010 § §
In my dream world — the one where there are lots of academic jobs and a position at your ideal institution opens up right as you’re finishing your degree — I can imagine myself applying to at least two different kinds of college teaching jobs. I would be interested in teaching art history at an art school, and I would be interested in teaching at a small (likely faith-based) liberal arts college. Were I to land on-campus interviews in either of these scenarios, the type of school itself would certainly play a role in what I might choose to wear, with definite adjustments for the season, the geographic location, the “feel” of the school, etc.
As always, the usual caveats apply. This is meant to generate ideas, not offer didactic advice. Bodies are not neutral, so how your body is perceived socially will certainly impact how the clothes you put on them are received. And confidence is the best accessory, so if wearing a really sharp, tailored suit is what makes you feel polished and accomplished…then I say go for it. As I’ve already mentioned, I will most likely go suit shopping — at the very least for great, professional separates — if and when I go on the traditional job market.
But let’s indulge in a little make-believe and pretend that a) my dissertation has magically written itself; b) I suddenly have two interviews and I want to wear something besides the traditional pants suit; and 3) the hiring cycle fits with out current season. Let’s say that School #1 is an art school in the Midwest and School #2 is an evangelical liberal arts school on the East Coast.
For School #1 I might wear something like this:
This is not a suit. It is, however, a professional-looking ensemble that is also eminently movable. While trapeze jackets might not be on-trend right now, I think they have a classic quality about them that plays nicely against the more structured trousers and fine gauge sweater. And, importantly, because it’s a ponte knit, it passes the arm swing test with flying colors. I imagine that this could be important since I definitely lecture with wild gesticulations. I like that this has some of the components of a pants suit, but there’s a little twist on proportions, shapes, and color that personalizes the outfit without being distracting.
Speaking of colors, I love that the eggplant jacket and amber necklace warm up the otherwise harsh black. I kind of feel like a Rothko painting, and that seems appropriate for an art school setting without being (I hope) cliche. (On a more practical note, currently these pants are hemmed for sizable heels, but for a real on-campus interview, I would wear pants hemmed to wear with a lower black heel or wedge.)
For School #2 I might wear something like this:
Honestly, I would prefer to wear a skirt suit to an institution like this one, but a similar feeling can be created by wearing a blazer over a sheath dress. A benefit to this is that there are less pieces to mess with and no tucking issues to fret over. Despite my previously articulated misgivings about this blazer, I think it works out okay in this iteration since I’m visually raising my waist anyway with the dress. It’s a relatively classic — rather than trendy — cut, and it also adds some textural interest to the outfit overall. I kept my jewelry simpler: diamond studs and a jade ring worn as a pendant for a teeny little pop of color that is more in tune with my aesthetic than the brooches or scarves many advice columns suggest. And yes, I did roll up my sleeves. I think some of you will tell me this is a no-no, but I feel so much more like me and so much less liable to fidget. Hey, I know my weaknesses. (These shoes are not one of them. I’ve walked a mile straight in them without issue.) Overall, I feel really powerful in a great fitting dress and jacket, and a bold shoe only cements that confidence.
Neither of these outfits are going to go down in the annals of Academichic as E.’s Best Look EVER. They aren’t fashion Statements with a capital S. But an interview outfit should make me the star, not my clothes, and I think that both of these remain true to my personal style while also being appropriate for their respective scenarios. After all, no one’s going to hire my closet.
Category: Color Combinations, Interview Attire, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Teaching Outfits
Tags: artwork > black pants > blazer > cropped jacket > E. > jacket > LBD > little black dress > sheath dress
October 5th, 2010 § §
- Shirt: Banana Republic
- Sweater: (below) August Silk via Filene’s Basement
- Skirt: Tahari via Filene’s Basement
- Belt: Kenneth Cole
- Shoes: Banana Republic Outlet
When I first decided that university teaching was not for me and that instead, upon completing my Masters, I wanted to teach at the secondary school level, I registered myself with a big headhunting company that had an excellent reputation for placing teachers in independent schools throughout the country. Part of this process involved going to a huge conference in the region of the country where I was looking for a job. During this 2-day long event, a hundred or more schools sent representatives to interview prospective candidates in short, thirty-minute sessions. This type of setting was better suited to a more aggressive and ferocious candidate than I and definitely was not my style. However, it was a necessary evil and allowed for massive amounts of networking and schmoozing not to mention checking out my competition and getting practice for future interviews. While this is no doubt smaller in size than professional conferences such as the Modern Language Association or College Art Association conferences, the intensity of the interviewing schedule seems to be relatively similar. For this event I opted for a more professional look AND something that I would be comfortable and confident wearing for hours of waiting between each thirty minute interview. Fortunately, I wouldn’t be walking much, so I could wear a higher heel than I might otherwise.
This pencil skirt was the right length and not too tight for my taste and the black and white flecked boucle lent itself nicely to a neutral pairing on top. The schools I was interviewing with were the kind that definitely had a dress code for students, but the faculty dress and overall setting was still more casual than an office might be. I had the advantage of having gone to schools very similar to those I was hoping to work at, and therefore I had a better sense of the atmosphere in which I would be teaching. For instance, I didn’t want to look over-dressed, so I opted for a T-shirt and sweater combo rather than a button down shirt and jacket. I also liked that the detail on this shirt draped over my sweater to add a little visual interest.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that this outfit made me stand out in any particular way other than the fact that I was more dressed up than many of the other male and female candidates. If I had it to do over again I would have tried to incorporate some more pops of color in order to grab the attention of my interviewer and make myself a little more memorable. As has been the case all along, being a contributor to Academichic has helped me push my own sartorial boundaries and re-imagine my wardrobe and self-presentation in general.
The whole weekend ordeal was exhausting, but it did land me a few follow-up phone interviews, two invitations for on-campus visits, and (thankfully!) a job.
I am interested to hear what those of you who have been to the large conferences in your field have opted to wear for these intense interviews?
Category: Interview Attire, Q&A, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
Tags: belted > cardigan > embellished top > L. > pencil skirt
October 4th, 2010 § §
Some musings from E.:
Far and away, the most popular advice for interviewees on the academic job market is:
Business suit in dark neutral color + colorful blouse or scarf or not-too-glitzy necklace + sensible shoes = Interview Outfit.
This makes sense to me. I adore a great blazer; I feel super confident in a structured jacket. So when I go on the job market “for real,” you had better believe that I am going to go and buy a charcoal gray or navy suit, and I’ll be looking for one that has a pant and skirt option, to boot.
A couple of years ago, pre-baby and pre-blog, I went on a (severely budget-restrained) suit shopping expedition before my first academic conference. I ended up buying a suit jacket from an Ann Taylor clearance rack: the mini tweed blazer I’ve worn on this site before. It’s served me well for what it is, but it’s also taught me some things that I do and do not like in suit jackets. So when my big suit shopping moment comes…
I’ll probably look for:
- Softer neutrals, like navy or charcoal gray. A little less corporate than all black and arguably more versatile for being broken up in later outfits. No tweed. No plaid. I worry that brown might look dated in a few years. But I might be open to a subtle herringbone.
- A one or two button jacket with a lower stance. The stance is where the top button falls on your torso. My three button Ann Taylor blazer has a higher stance which I’ve since realized isn’t my most flattering look. A lower stance would look a little less boxy on my not-busty frame and would help break up my long torso. I hear that the opposite might be true for women with bigger chests.
- A jacket that comes in a Tall size. Fit is key, and I was lazy and cheap with the first blazer I bought. It works fine with skirts and dresses where I visually raise my waist, but with pants it’s obvious that the jacket isn’t quite long enough. I need a Tall size to accomodate my long torso.
- A jacket with shorter sleeves. I am a really bad sleeve fidgeter, and I would rather have a slightly less formal suit with three-quarter or bracelet sleeves (or even rolled cuffs) than be an annoying fidgeter. Seriously, I would probably even take a suit jacket to a tailor to have the sleeves shortened.
In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about…
Why are suits de rigueur interview attire, even in industries where suits are not regular workday attire? How have tailored suits for women evolved in their appearance and their affect? Why do I feel more confident in a skirt + jacket combo than a pantsuit and can I reclaim traditionally feminine dressing like Sally discussed a few days ago? And (though I might need some wine for this thought excursion) what are the gender, race, and class politics of socially-acceptable “professional” attire, courtesy of the very smart ladies at Threadbared?
And I’d love for you tell me…
What are your tips for finding a great suit? What has served you well? What have you found to be most flattering for your body and why? Do you have a preference for a skirt suit versus a pant suit and why? How do you personalize a suit? I’m so excited to have a reserve of resources and advice at my finger tips, so bring on your tips, suggestions, and misgivings.
Category: Interview Attire, Resources, Theoretical
October 4th, 2010 § §
- Maroon sweater – Calvin Klein
- Cord skirt – thrifted
- Gray sweater tights – TJMaxx
- Gold scarf – gift
- Maroon pumps – vintage Etienne Aigner, thrifted
When we began conceiving of this interview attire feature, E. asked me to say a few words about how I dressed for my interview that led to my first faculty position. My route to academic employment was a little less traditional than that of most, but I hope that these thoughts on dressing for an ‘alternate’ interview will serve some of you well.
I sought out my current university as my desired place of employment while planning my return to the US from Germany. Although they had no advertised positions in my field, I contacted the department chair and inquired about any possible openings. He suggested I submit my CV for the eventuality that something would arise. As I was planning a trip to the US in the Spring, I asked to drop off my CV in person, hoping to make more of an impression with a face-to-face encounter than just through emails alone.
Fortunately for me, he agreed and scheduled an appointment during his office hours.
So this is why I say that my interview was not a traditional one. I had a meeting to submit my CV that I was hoping would turn into more of an impromptu interview of sorts. And it did. And since we’re discussing clothing choices here, here is how I sartorially navigated this type of situation.
Although I was desperately hoping that I wouldn’t just drop off my CV for a secretary to file, I also knew that there would be a good chance that this encounter would be most routine and brief. Showing up in a two-piece suit with heels and a briefcase seemed to say that I was trying just a little too hard. Alternately, stopping by in jeans and a sweatshirt might likewise suggest that I wasn’t trying hard enough.
There is a reason why we, as a culture, spend so much time discussing clothes: Because clothes speak and they have done so for centuries. Recognizing that what you wear sends a message is a helpful tool in navigating various social situations. I strove for a message that hopefully said; I’m organized, put-together, professional, and approachable. Please hire me!
Rather than the traditional interview suit, I wore a knee-length skirt in a solid color paired with a ¾ sleeve sweater in a complimentary color (the picture above was taken on that day). I struggled with my choice of jewelry so in the end I opted for a gold toned scarf looped collar-like around my neck. If you know my style from past contributions to this site, you know that is a somewhat toned down look for me. But my goal was for my outfit to look nice enough to actually not be noticed. I wanted something that would not distract and detract attention from my words.
Since you already know the outcome of this story, you know that I got the job. How my dress on that first meeting affected my chances is hard to say and I will likely never know. But I do know that I felt comfortable and confident in my presentation that day, which helped me concentrate on the discussion at hand and allowed me to put my best ‘shoe’ forward, as it were.
I would love to hear from any of our readers who have likewise negotiated a similarly nebulous first meeting with a potential employer? How did you decide to tackle the ominous ‘interview attire’ question? And would you do the same thing again? S.
Category: Interview Attire, Q&A