Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Search for an Interview Suit

Despite accidentally buying shoes, the real shopping mission of this weekend has been finding an interview suit. All I want is something that doesn't make me look like I'm dressing up in my mom's clothes, which you'd think would be easy enough. But I went up and down Broadway and 5th Avenue, and have had barely any luck. My ideal interview suit would be a nice blazer with a matching skirt (I'm thinking navy or grey, because black makes you completely indistinguishable from every other applicant), and then a top in some bright, fun color that I can also match with my other work clothes. I really liked the suit Rachel Greene (Mark Greene's daughter) wore on the series finale of ER, although I can't find a full body shot of her. Her suit had pants instead of a skirt (probably smart in a hospital), but she looked very adult and competent, not at all like the spoiled brat we all wished would get crushed under an ambulance in the earlier seasons.

But every time I found a blazer that looked good, there wasn't a matching skirt, and when I found a good skirt, there wasn't a matching blazer. Do I need a blazer, really? It is late May, so it's humid as hell and I'm pretty sure my interviewer will not be wearing a jacket. And it's not like I'm applying for jobs on Wall Street; I'm trying to go into a more creative industry, although it's still one composed of huge corporations and HR departments. Also, a blazer will cover up the giant bruises I have on my left arm (I was running for the subway and the doors closed on me, twice, when I wasn't all the way inside. It hurt something fierce and now my arm looks like Rihanna's face, post-Chris Brown).

I did find a few pencil skirts I really liked, though, and I think I might bring them to Macy's tomorrow and see if I can find a jacket to match. The first skirt I bought is the Cotton High-Waist Pencil Skirt in marine, $59.50, at Express. It makes me feel like a leggy Mad Men-era secretary--someone who knows how to play up her curves, like Joan, but also has the brains to earn her own office and title, like Peggy. I like how this model added a thick belt to the skirt, although I always feel that's a bit of a gamble when the skirt doesn't have belt loops to keep it in place. I really adore this skirt, but I'm worried that it'll be impossible to find a jacket in the same color--it's just a touch more vibrant than your everyday navy. Express is totally falling asleep on the job by not making anything that matches this, by the way. What I really want to wear with this skirt is a marigold-colored top, maybe with some embroidery or beading or other fun detail along the neckline. Something in this color (this is actually a t-shirt dress for J.Crew kids, but we'll ignore that).

I bought a more basic black skirt (with some fun button details on the hips) from H&M, so that'll be my back-up if I can't find anything to wear with the navy skirt. But the skirt I wanted to buy, but didn't, is a bit more exciting (as far as work skirts go, at least). From Ann Taylor Loft, that venerable institution of grown-ups clothes, this Two-Button Denim Oxford Skirt, $54.50, is way cuter in person than in this photo. On me, it looks kicky and nautical and preppy-hot, but still very professional and mature enough for work. The buttons, in particular, add a bit of glitz to the subdued dark stretch denim fabric. And, just to be clear, it's not a jean skirt! It may be denim fabric, but it's nothing like those cut-off jean miniskirts that you wore on the boardwalk (if you grew up in Grease, that is). Oooh, and it also has pockets, which we all know is always a plus.

So I loved it when I tried it on, but I also knew that if Ann Taylor Loft didn't have a matching jacket (and I couldn't find one), then I would never find a blazer in the same fabric and with similar buttons. And it would be great on its own, but this was not a "buy any old cute skirt" shopping trip; I tried to stay focus on the Interview Suit quest. Wish me more success when I try again tomorrow!


Madelyn said...

haha, i bought a black pants suit. you so disapprove. (trust me, the a-line skirt that matched was super unflattering and the jacket fits like a glove)

two words dude, Banana Republic.

KBear said...

Have you tried a non-matching jacket for your skirts? I think a white jacket with your navy skirt might be cute.

-Lindsey- said...

Try BCBG! They have tons of matching suiting options (many with skirts) and the jackets also come in short sleeves. I think, for an interview, you definitely want to wear a suit (full sleeves or not) just to appear more polished. Then, once you work there, you can abide more by their dress code. Always best to overdress, in my opinion!

BTW, Hi! I'm Lindsey! :)

Anonymous said...

Personally I think you should go with the Express skirt and then maybe just wear an adorable cardigan? It's way too hot for a blazer and it's hard to find a match that's adorable and that isn't ill-fitting. Good luck!

Alex said...

I've always been told to go very conservative for interviews (with a nice, bright color shirt or a necklace if I wanted something to stand out). I know it's hot as hell, so maybe just find a REALLY nice, cute blouse and carry your jacket in with you over your arm if it is ghastly outside?

I agree with KBear, too! A white or gray jacket would probably be really cute. Do you think you could get away with three-quarter length sleeves on the jacket during the summer time?