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I asked four fashion industry experts if what you wear to an interview really matters

IMAGE VIA Coreprêt

WORDS BY MAGENTA PORTER

Is it worth investing in a new outfit to land your dream role?

Like it or not, interviews are a major part of working life. Whether you are preparing for your very first one, or you’ve become an accidental professional interviewee, the stress over what to wear never seems to change.

If you’re scratching your head wondering just what the heck ‘smart casual’ means or trying to decide if that blazer truly screams ‘dressing for success’, you are not alone. I’m sure many of us have searched ‘what to wear to an interview’ in a bid to avoid repeating Andy’s mistakes in her notorious interview with Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada


For more expert style tips, check out our Fashion vertical. 


But is forking out your hard-earned cash on a flashy new piece actually going to land you the job? To get to the bottom of it, I asked some of Australia’s top fashion industry experts what they think.

Melissa Mason, Editor (Digital) at Elle and Marie Claire Australia and co-host of the Jeans & A Nice Top podcast  

 

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When you are interviewing someone for a new role, do you take much notice of what they are wearing? Or are you more focused on their body language and personality?

I’m not taking notice of labels, more whether they’ve made an effort. For someone going for a role at one of my titles, I would expect them to dress smart casual. Jeans would be fine, but with a pulled-together outfit, say a blazer and white tee or a silk shirt. That being said, personality, body language, enthusiasm and energy are equally as important. 

Do you think sticking to your personal style and wearing something that makes you feel confident trumps buying a flashy new piece?

One hundred per cent. But it’s still contextual – if your personal style is ripped jeans and vintage band tees that have seen better days, that’s awesome but not an appropriate interview outfit. Represent your own personal style, just choose a more polished look over what you’d wear on the weekend.

What is one piece of advice you would give people who are prepping for an upcoming interview?

You have no idea how impressive it is when I interview someone and they reference a recent story on site. You should be reading up on the company you’re applying to and then trying to reference your knowledge in the interview. Also, look at it as you also interviewing them. Don’t forget that the role should be right for you too, even if it’s your dream job.

@melissamason_

Giulia Brugliera, Managing Editor of Fashion Journal 

When you are interviewing someone for a new role, do you take much notice of what they are wearing? Or are you more focused on their body language and personality?

Body language and personality are of course vitally important, but what a person is wearing can tell you something that their words alone will not. This isn’t to say the candidate has to be dressed in new season or designer clothing – I admire anyone who sources and styles vintage well. But maybe most importantly, I look at how neatly and professionally a person is dressed, as it reveals how they might navigate professional environments.

Do you think sticking to your personal style and wearing something that makes you feel confident trumps buying a flashy new piece?

Absolutely. Employees want to see you have your own sense of style, as it shows a deeper understanding of the fashion industry. That said, if you don’t have anything suitable for a professional environment, you’ll need to go out and source something. That doesn’t mean buying something new, it could be borrowing from a friend or family member. 

What is one piece of advice you would give people who are prepping for an upcoming interview?

To make sure you actually prepare. Too many times I have interviewed candidates who clearly haven’t read Fashion Journal or know what we’re about. Your interviewer won’t notice if you’ve spent 10 minutes less on your hair, but will if you’ve used that 10 minutes to plan out some thoughtful questions about their business.

Lauren Di Bartolo, Founder and Director of the Australian Style Institute

 

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When you are interviewing someone for a new role, do you take much notice of what they are wearing? Or are you more focused on their body language and personality?

The short answer is yes. It’s only part of a first impression, but what someone wears tells us a lot about them, including what they like. This can be a great conversation starter, which always helps ease first interview nerves. Wearing something you’re comfortable in will always help you to come across that way. 

Do you think sticking to your personal style and wearing something that makes you feel confident trumps buying a flashy new piece?

Absolutely. Flashy isn’t going to be what gets you the job. It’s more important to feel comfortable but presentable for the job you’re applying for. That said, be cautious with ‘comfortable’. Often we overlook the pilling on clothes we wear every day, so take the time to inspect your clothes to ensure they’re in good condition. 

What is one piece of advice you would give people who are prepping for an upcoming interview?

Plan your outfit the day before, inspect it for pilling, stains or marks. Then take a photo in a full-length mirror and crop your face out so you can see only the outfit. Ask yourself whether you would hire you for that specific role. Cropping is the only way to disassociate and see the look with objectivity – the mirror isn’t always an accurate indicator. It might mean changing out a shoe for something simpler or adding a jacket for structure.

@laurendibartolo 

Alissa Thomas, Contributing Fashion Editor and Writer, Grazia 

When you are interviewing someone for a new role, do you take much notice of what they are wearing? Or are you more focused on their body language and personality? 

Making an effort to be presentable would certainly be favourable. However, I would never hire due to specifics of label or trend. I would definitely be more interested in their demeanour and how open they seem to the job’s requirements. Being a team player with an agreeable nature means far more than expensive shoes!

Do you think sticking to your personal style and wearing something that makes you feel confident trumps buying a flashy new piece? 

Quite possibly, however, I think the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive! Indulging yourself in something new before something important like a job interview can give you an extra boost of confidence. However, it’s certainly not essential. What’s really important is that you can breathe in the clothes, walk in the shoes and feel comfortable regardless. 

What is one piece of advice you would give people who are prepping for an upcoming interview?

Don’t worry about being nervous – most employers will see it as a sign you’re placing a lot of importance on the role, which is endearing.

@alissajaythomas

For the final word on interview fashion, check out this interview with Anna Wintour. 

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