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Interview Outfit Ideas for Working Women: Interview with Kristyn Schiavone
Today in my networking challenge I am interviewing Kristyn Schiavone. Kristyn is the Author of the ebook Career Chic for Young Professionals and Writer and Style Watcher at Simple Style Guide. I am excited to speak with her today about how to be career chic so, thanks so much for being here Kristyn!

In case you are reading this at work and can’t watch the video, you can read all of the great advice below instead!

1) What is appropriate interview attire for women?

What I would like to say for ladies is if you are in an industry where it is not official that you wear a suit, there are suit industries, for example, in a courtroom you’ll need to probably wear a suit. But, if you’re not in one of those industries, I always say a suiting dress, a nice fitting short or long sleeve, knee length sheet dress, basically, a thicker fabric not jersey because it’s a little too clean. Make sure it is knee length and closed toe shoes. I think that’s always a safe bet.
Go to the company’s website and look at the people who work there or get the sense of the “about us” page and things like whether it’s a traditional office environment. If that’s the case you may want to consider a suit or dress with a blazer over it. But if you’re appearing in a PR firm in New York City, it’s going to be a younger and hipper environment.  So as long as you wear a classy dress with little bit of a younger touch to it then it will work well.
The general rule for dress, is it has to absolutely be knee-length. If you’re doing the bare arm thing, make sure the rest of you is very covered. But no sleeves I think is fine in most office environments and you can get a sense of that after you’ve been working there for awhile. If you’re pretty sure that you can do it, then its fine but if you’re not sure, err on the safe side.

2) What are some interview outfit basics for career women?

I think everyone’s outfit basics are going to be different. I define a basic as something that you are going to wear often. If you’re wearing it two days in a row, you’re not going to feel weird about it. So it’s that classic piece and it’s also a piece that is not going to go out of style. If you want to pull it out in two years you can.
So these things like blazers, pencil skirts, blouses and neutral colors. My basics, for example, I always say the black pencil skirt is something everybody should have in the summer, well I like a navy pencil skirt. I wear more navy and white usually so that way you kind of find your personal style and see your basics are. But, I think the classic business pieces are the pencil skirt, the pair of trousers, the solid color button down blouse, a good bag, and always a nude pair of pumps. I always say flesh-colored pumps because they go with more things. I wear mine probably twice a week. Maybe your dark pair of jeans if you are in a start-up or tech environment.
Color is important in fashion right now, but it depends on your office environment. And if you can get away with it I would love to see it. For example, right now I am collecting basic pencil skirts and shirts in all different colors and you can just pair them together right now because that’s the fashion landscape that we’re in, it makes dressing pretty easy.
If you are in a very conservative office environment, try some different neutrals- it could be a light mint color, a light blush color because those are not too loud but are still a way to wear the trends and the colors that are great right now.

3) How do you recommend shopping for the essentials?

For the essentials, I always say when you find that perfect thing, if it works within your budget, don’t feel bad about spending the money on those very basic pieces that you are going to wear all the time. You will get your money’s worth and they will be higher quality so you won’t have to replace them that much. But then for your other stuff, learn what brands work on you and look for sales. Some of the really nice brands have sales all the time and you could really get a lot of nice clothes for not a lot of money. I like that better. I also go to Target as much as I can. I really like to find high-quality things on sale.
In a business environment, fit is really important. If you’re first starting out, make sure you go to a store and really learn what brands work for your body. We all know that person in the office who is wearing ill-fitting clothes, and it affected your perception of that person. That’s really a key ingredient to looking professional is making sure that everything fits you properly, it’s not too tight, it’s not falling off, and things like that. Once you get a handle on that, by all means, go ahead and go online because there are more size options and more sale options. But really make sure you spend the time in stores first to learn what brands work and what styles clothing works best for you.

4) What are some outfit ideas for a business formal work environment?

You start by buying yourself a suit and then you think about what other things you can mix and match with that suit. Let’s say you get a khaki pantsuit, long sleeve classic blazer, and khaki trousers. Can you wear in that office environment maybe some colorful trousers with your khaki blazers instead of the khaki ones or can you maybe wear the khaki trousers with a cardigan and a button up shirt?
Build your wardrobe in color because you’ll be wearing all the same types of clothes so it’s a blazer, pants, skirt, dress. Look for different shapes also. If you need to be wearing trousers, maybe you get a cropped pair with that are looser on the top and have a shirt tucked in to them. If it’s a jacket, you can get a maxi jacket instead of a classic collared blazer.

A business casual work environment?

Business casual is often the hardest for people because there are a lot of business casual environments where you can maybe wear that pair of dark skinny jeans out on Friday and so the range of things that you can wear is very wide. Pencil skirts and shirts are always great. Business casual is usually an instance where you can do if it’s a not a fitted dress.  If its loose, you can maybe get away with having it a little bit above knee-length so like a tunic dress with flats. You can add it in occasionally. I work in a business casual environment and I usually stick with like a pencil skirt and a fun shirt.
For business casual really make sure that you dress like the person whose job you want. So, if they’re not wearing jeans to the office then don’t wear jeans in the office. Everybody looks great when they put effort into their appearance.

5) What is your advice for wearing makeup to work?  What is the appropriate amount of makeup to wear?

I do think you should wear some makeup because I think that makeup is just another one of those things where it looks like you put effort into your appearance. That said, a lot of people make the mistake of not wearing colors that are natural for their face. At a minimum, I like to see just foundation, eyeliner on the top lash, mascara, blush, and a little bit of lip gloss.
And all those colors should be colors that work with your complexion, brown or black liner, mascara, a pink or a flesh colored blush, not a hot pink but a very light pink if your peach complected. When you’re shopping for makeup if you haven’t done it before look for colors that are nude and flesh. Also for a foundation, I always recommend getting that in the department store because you can take a sample and make sure that it doesn’t make you break out or look too makeup-y because that’s distracting when people are staring at your face in a business situation.

6) This question I ask at the end of all of my interviews, what do you wish you would have known when you were a young professional woman just starting out in her career?

I will give you a style answer and a non-style answer. The style one is I wish I had known how quickly I was going to wear out my shoes and I wish I had found a cobbler sooner because you are just wearing your heels every day.
My non-fashion thing that I wish I had known is how important insurance and a retirement plan is in a job offer because I had never had experience with that. Now that I have pretty good benefits, I’ve learned how important those things are to look for even if they are not as common in a work environment these days.

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