What To Wear to a Job Interview

In this economy, there’s no room for mistakes.
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What’s interview-ready…and already in your closet?

When you’re shopping in your own closet, look for conservative pieces that fit well. It sounds obvious, but do a test run the night before an interview to avoid any disasters that leave you mumbling, "well it fit fine when I wore it 8 years ago…" Helene Lauer, a career management consultant in Boston, says her go-to picks are always well tailored, with clean lines. A classic sheath like this one from Jones New York never goes out of style ($159). Give it a facelift with a thin belt (and remember to add a cardigan or blazer!) Buy it at jny.com#

Michelle Obama bares her arms all the time – does that mean sleeveless dresses are interview-friendly?

Unfortunately, interview and fashion experts alike agree that bare shoulders are not appropriate – Lauer insists you should never show much skin. If you’re interviewing in the summer, bring a thin cardigan or structured jacket with you and put it on right before you walk in the door. A well-cut blazer can make a sheath dress look more ready-for-business. This shrunken schoolboy style from GAP is trendy without trying too hard ($95). Buy it at gap.com

Should you wear color?

It’s tempting to make a splash in a cheerful yellow or pink, but keep in mind that colors can have an emotional effect (good or bad.) A good choice is "always muted with a pop of color," suggests Linda Lee, group vice president at Macy’s By Appointment. If you’re interviewing in the creative field, work color into a suit with accessories like this chunky turquoise bib necklace from Banana Republic ($125). If you’re interviewing in a more conservative field, stay away from flashy jewelry and try classic accessories like a silk scarf. Buy it at bananarepublic.com

Stockings: yes or no?

There was a small outrage after we suggested nude hose might be passé in our March 2009 issue. When you’re interviewing, the decision comes down to company culture. Do some research: if the job is a corporate position or the company is conservative, wear hose. "If not, go hose-less," says Linda Lee of Macy’s. Absolutely no open-toed shoes or flashy pedicures and if you’re worried about pasty legs, Lauer suggests a light dose of self-tanner. We liked this pair of Spanx ($26) – pair them with a medium-height heel. Buy it at spanx.com

What’s the best investment if you’re going shopping?

If you’re changing fields or returning to the workforce, your business-attire might be outdated. Don’t spend a fortune on a full wardrobe – a single piece can be a smart buy. A crisp new shirt can perk up an old suit and well-cut pants, like these from Talbots, can make any blouse look good ($89). "Dress for the interview as if you were in the job that day," says Lauer, who routinely has her clients preview their interview-wear for her. Buy it at talbots.com TO AMP UP YOUR WORK WARDROBE, CLICK HERE FOR CHIC, SOPHISTICATED WORK TOTES

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