Interview Outfits for People Who HATE Dressing Up

Posted November 8, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Building Your Brand

Sometimes, what we play with in our childhood can easily determine some of the same inclinations as adults. When I was a child, I didn’t like playing “house” or “kitchen” like many little girls did. And today, my friends will tell you I rarely cook and generally hate most of what happens in the kitchen. It’s a chore, not something fun for me. The same goes for some little girls who hated playing “dress up.” Chances are, if you didn’t like dressing up as a child, you don’t like it now either.

Last week, a CGN reader emailed me for advice on clothing choices for an interview, specifically for those individuals who truly hate dressing up. So I’m gathering my best tips to put together an interview outfit if you’re one of those “Seriously, don’t make me wear tights” kind of Career Girls! That’s ok! You don’t need to love makeup and heels to be successful, and you don’t need to be comfortable dressing up to land that job.

Take this advice and you might feel better in your next interview:

  • You can’t go wrong with a simple black suit. I find there are two types of people who hate dressing up: 1) someone who doesn’t know how to dress up effectively and 2) someone who loves casual clothing and just wishes she could stay with that. In both cases, the easiest way to dress for an interview is to employ the basic black suit. I highly recommend Ann Taylor’s Triacetate fabric suiting. They have multiple jackets and pants that will fit any body type and the fabric is wrinkle resistant and will last for years. Invest once and walk away happy!
  • Find some style icons and copy their looks. For some women, wearing a dress is as likely as hell freezing over. That’s alright. If you’re a Career Girl who never wears a dress, look to someone like Ellen Degeneres, or the on-screen outfits of Liz Lemmon on 30 Rock (sure, she wears skirts, but in general, she’s pretty non-girly). Find that style icon who fits your style and look for what they wear on the red carpet. It might give you some ideas for interview styling.
  • Culture matters — and so does dress code. If you hate dressing up to the point where it gives you anxiety and stress, you certainly shouldn’t be looking for a job in a conservative law firm or corporation with a strict dress code. Even if you think it’s the perfect job, the culture and dress code will wear you down. Instead, look for companies with cultures that err on the side of casual or more like the kind of dress you wear normally. You’ll feel much more comfortable long term.
  • Impress in the accessories and little things. If you hate suits, you’ll look incredibly uncomfortable wearing a suit, a white shirt, and nothing else. Use your personality and the things you normally love every day to dress it up. If you’re a big scarf-wearer with your skinny jeans and t-shirts, keep the scarf with the suit. if you love crazy shoes, go ahead and wear them with your suit and a great bright colored top. These kinds of accessories and small details can show your personality even through being uncomfortable in a suit.

Use your personality and don’t get anxious. An interview is just an interview, a suit is just a suit. Bring yourself fully to the interview, and the people you’re meeting will see you — not your outfit.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."