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Just when you think you’ve got your “aesthetic” figured out, a job interview comes along and makes you question every item in your wardrobe. Why on earth do you have seven white T-shirts, but not one pair of perfect black pants? What heel height is acceptable for an interview? How should you do your hair? Even fashion editors find it stressful—and we do this for a living. It’s important to make an impression in any interview, but knowing exactly what will make a good—or bad—impression is a whole different story. To you, those navy velvet loafers are invariably chic; to your suited-up interviewer, they might seem a bit far-out.
We asked Vogue.com staffers to share their personal formula for a strong interview look. There isn’t one right answer, and many of them advocate for adding a touch of your personal style so you feel like yourself—not a corporate clone. Read their advice below, then shop editor-approved staples in the slideshow above.
“Nothing too flashy or obviously expensive. (If you have a crocodile Birkin, great! Don’t bring it.) It doesn’t read well. Obviously what is appropriate or how much personal style is expected depends on your intended profession, but I think subtlety is always a good bet. Let’s say it’s a creative field, but corporate: I think you want to look responsible and pulled together but also, you know, like yourself. This would be the time for Marni or Céline or The Row, or Melet Mercantile, something clever and chic—just like you.”
—Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com Fashion News Editor
“Always be yourself. Don’t ever go out and buy some version of who you think said job wants you to be.”
—Jorden Bickham, Vogue.com Executive Fashion Editor
“I think it is very dependent on what type of job you are interviewing for! That said, I think showing your true self in an appropriate way is key to making the best impression. For my Vogue interview (after 5,000 panicked outfit changes), I wore a denim button-up shirt from the Gap with high-waisted purple shantung trousers from an Italian tailor. Since it was for a fashion position, I thought it was very “me” (denim-obsessed with a penchant for menswear tailoring, and never too formal) while also relaying that I dressed for quality and practicality, and am aware of, but not obedient to, trends and designer labels. The denim shirt was risky, but funnily enough I ended up as the Denim Editor, so I guess it really did make my point!”
—Kelly Connor, Vogue.com Market Editor
“I think it’s best to keep the outfit simple, with no designer logos and nothing too loud and bright. It’s important to be comfortable and feel like yourself all while dressing for the job in question. Nothing you wear to an interview should be too loud or over-the-top, but should definitely show some personality—when I came to interview at Vogue.com, I wore an abstract floral-print drop-waist dress with pockets by Stella McCartney and navy suede Manolo BB pumps. If I could go back and change the look, I’d maybe try something more monochrome, like a minimal white blouse, a billowy cropped trouser, and a pretty mule, preferably from The Row.”
—Brooke Ely Danielson, Vogue.com Accessories Editor
“In terms of beauty for an interview, I would never want my look to distract from my work. Clean and polished is key here. I focus on skin care with a little bit of concealer, a subtle swirl of cream blush for a healthy complexion, an eyelash-warming swipe of bronze eyeliner, and a natural-looking mascara. It’s just a slightly enhanced version of a makeup-free me.”
—Mackenzie Wagoner, Vogue.com Senior Beauty Writer
“Someone once told me that the first things anyone notices about you in an interview are your shoes, your hair, and your smile. So typically I splurge on the shoes (most recently opting for a classic black Gucci Jordaan loafer) and fill in the rest with something simple and non-distracting. As for the smile, well, you’re on your own for that one.”
—Cameron Bird, Vogue West Coast Associate
“Regardless of the job, I always make sure I have my hair out of my face, up or back in some way. Nothing is more distracting than a candidate who is messing with their hair! A neat side braid, low bun, or sleek pony will do the trick.”
—Jenna Rennert, Vogue.com Associate Beauty Editor
“I hate real pants. If they aren’t jeans, I probably won’t wear them. That said, I recently discovered J.Crew’s Teddie pants, which are about 10 times more bearable than your standard trouser. They have a cropped, slightly flared leg, and unlike my old skinny ‘work pants,’ I don’t count down the minutes until I can take them off. If I had a job interview tomorrow—assuming it’s for a fashion position!—I’d wear my navy pair with velvet loafers, a slightly oversize cashmere sweater (not a boring button-down), and gold jewelry.
—Emily Farra, Vogue.com Fashion News Writer
“I think it’s better to be a little basic when dressing for an interview. You don’t want your interviewer to form an opinion about you before you even start speaking—start with a blank slate. It’s not that you don’t have great style, it’s more that your interviewer might have different opinions about the latest Prada collection, or you might have completely different tastes when it comes to jewelry. Do dress for the job you want, so look professional and don’t show up looking sloppy; just take it back a notch when it comes to your personal style. If it is a fashion job, I don’t think there is anything wrong with wearing designer clothing, but instead of going for the latest Gucci dress that just hit stores last week, opt for something more vintage or a few seasons old that’s not too on-trend. Maybe look on The RealReal to score on some fashion-forward pieces. When it comes to shoes, I like to wear heels because it makes me stand up straighter and makes me feel great about myself, but pick something that you feel comfortable in—and can actually walk in!”
—Anny Choi, Vogue.com Associate Market Editor
“Stay away from anything with bad juju. There’s a diamond Michele watch I absolutely adore, but whenever I slither that thing on my wrist, my luck runs out. In its presence I’ve broken a heel, suffered through a bad date, cried in public, gotten lost (twice), and failed a microeconomics test. Needless to say, stick with your good luck pieces—basically anything tied to a good memory. And don’t forget to Wonder Woman–pose during the elevator ride up! You have Amy Cuddy to thank for that superpower secret.”
—Lauren Sanchez, Vogue Assistant to the Executive Director, Editorial and Special Projects