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In Vogue at the Interview

Posted on: February 21, 2010

In vogue: adj. “being or in accordance with current social fashions; in the current fashion or style.” That definition courtesy of thefreedictionary.com. “In vogue” brings so many things to mind – the beautiful celebs and models on the cover of Vogue magazine; the beloved all-girl R&B group, En Vogue, with their 80s and 90s hits like “Whatta Man” and “Free Your Mind;” and of course the fabulous Madonna song “Vogue” (“Strike a pose. Strike a pose. Vogue, vogue vogue”). Gotta love it. The latest “in vogue” fashion trends are exciting and fun, and sometimes way out there, but are they appropriate for a job interview? I guess it all depends on the interview situation, the company you’re interviewing for, and how far you decide to take the trend.

An article on omiru.com answers the question “What to Wear to a PR Interview.” In this particular article the question is about what to wear to an interview at a fashion PR firm in New York City. The author says that “the perfect interview outfit for a fashion public relations firm is one part fashion-forward and one part professional.” While the author encourages showing a knowledge of current trends, she also cautions against overdoing it. It is a job interview after all and it’s important to appear professional. According to the author the “chicest outfits mix classics and trends.” Some suggested interview-appropriate fashion trends include “menswear as womenswear (think: tuxedo detailing, high-waisted trouser pants), geometric patterns, dresses, bright colors, ruffles, tie-front blouses, and trapeze shapes.” The author also reminds us not to forget about accessories. She recommends closed toe pumps or ballet flats and a classic work bag. Finally, the author gives an example of the perfect interview outfit: “a shirtdress with interesting detailing, a light overcoat or sweater, a luxurious bag, and a pair of low (closed-toe) heels.” While this advice is directed toward a female at a fashion PR interview, I think that it could be applicable to any type of PR interview because it’s a way to look like you’re in the know on the latest fashion trends while still looking professional. A potential employer may connect your knowledge of current fashion trends with a knowledge of current trends in other areas of PR and you may just get the job thanks to your savvy dressing abilities. It’s a stretch, but, hey, it couldn’t hurt.

An article on businessweek.com titled “You Can’t Wear That to an Interview!” explains the ever-changing attire requirements for job interviews in today’s society. Author Julie Gordon says that while there are still conservative institutions that want to see a “suit and tie for men and a skirt or pants for women,” there is also an increase in more informal job interviews and therefore a more informal dress code. She explains that many college students and recent grads are going to “‘interview events’  – informal drinks with a school alumnus, dinner with potential employers, or an on-campus meeting with a student mentor,” and these events don’t require the classic suit and tie. Gordon also says that there are “some offices that allow for a little more creativity, usually marketing, public relations, and retail.” Gordon quotes Kate Aiken, senior director of college recruiting for the Gap who says “You know what? You don’t have to wear a suit. Wear whatever you want. We usually encourage students to dress for interviews in a manner that expresses their personal style.” According to Gordon, the bottom line for most companies in today’s interview world “is usually not whether you’ve paid $100 for your tie, or headed to the trendiest shop for your Louis Vuitton purse, it’s whether you fit into the corporate culture and look the part.” The article also includes links to men’s and women’s fashion slideshows for job interviews that are definitely worth taking a look at.

Alison Doyle, an about.com guide, posted an article on about.com titled “Dressing for Success – How to Dress for an Interview.” In the article, Doyle starts out by giving some examples of what not to wear to an interview – i.e. a purple sweat suit, a red mini skirt that’s so tight you can’t sit down, and pants that hang below your hips and may force your potential employer to tell you to pull your pants. Take a tip from American Idol contestant General Larry Platt who says you look “like a fool with your pants on the ground” (see video below). Doyle quotes Kim Zoller of Interview Dynamics who says that “55% of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look.” Doyle also gives a list of Zoller’s tips for looking your best without having to spend a lot of money. Tips for women include a “solid color, conservative suit, coordinated blouse, moderate shoes, limited jewelry, etc.” For men she suggests a “solid color, conservative suit, white long sleeve shirt, conservative tie, etc.” More tips are listed in the article.

So here’s my bottom line on dressing for an interview: being “in vogue” is ok, as long as you do it in moderation. Dress for the interview you’re going on. I think it’s definitely important to look professional, but we shouldn’t be afraid to express ourselves. Creativity usually gets you bonus points in the PR world so why not test it out at an interview. Here’s a quote that I like from the blog, Chique St. about dressing for a PR interview: “Ladies. Gentlemen. You are going to a media/PR/Marketing interview. Spice it up! I’m not talking about throwing on your pink feather boa that you bought for the talent show when you were in fifth grade, I’m merely stating that elegance doesn’t have to be in black and white anymore.” So, I think the best way to end this blog post is with a video from one of the most, well, fashion-forward (in a cone-shaped bra sort of way) ladies of the last few decades. Enjoy!

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7 Responses to "In Vogue at the Interview"

Hello there! Greetings from FLASH Relations! We see that you included a quote from Chique St. ( our sister site ) within your piece! What an honor! Thank you and please stay tuned for more fashion updates. Chique St. can now be found @ http://www.chiquestreview.com and found on Twitter @chiquest. Best! Founder – Jesse Jordan

I was surprised to read some of the suggested interview attire selections from this blog post. Suggestions such as “geometric patterns, dresses, bright colors, ruffles, tie-front blouses” just seem so unprofessional in my mind. I guess it’s time to get away from the traditional mundane outfits of strategic black and white with the black slacks and the buttoned down white dress shirt.

I guess maybe when dressing for certain jobs, those kinds of outfits would be a little more up to date. The only problem I really see with this is the question of knowing just what the interviewer deems as appropriate attire. There is a chance that one might walk in to an interview wearing a more trendy version of interview attire, but the interviewer was expecting something more traditional. The lack of traditional attire might be a turn off to some interviewers.

[…] In Vogue at the Interview by Allison […]

[…] is in response to blog response 13 “In Vogue at the Interview” by Allison […]

This article was soo creative. I loved that your way of looking at dressing for an interview as being “in vogue” and up to current trends. We are in public relations, and it is important to show our creative sides. I especially loved your quote from Larry Platt about the “pants on the ground.” Hilarious!! He is so funny. I think “spicing it up” with something bright and interesting can be a great conversation starter and a good way to make yourself remembered after an interview. I tend to wear mostly neutrals, especially black and white, and will keep in mind your tips when I shop for more business-appropriate clothes in the near future. Boring attire is for boring people, and if you are in communications, you are most likely pretty outgoing!

[…] “In Vogue at the Interview” by Allison […]

I like the title of your blog, cute. Nice job linking the words to the links and/or websites, makes it real convenient for the reader to get to that page. In Public Relations it is real important to of course wear professional attire to an interview, but it’s also important to be fashionable. It is cool that you did a lot of background research, and plugged in legit and helpful sources for the reader to refer back to. Seems like you found a lot of great information. That American Idol clip…HILARIOUS, gets me every time (laughs).

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