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What To Wear After 14 Years Out of the Workforce?

Dear Classy Career Girl,

I am a mature woman who needs to return to work after a 14 year break. During this time “off” as a mother, I have been active as a volunteer which most often required only casual clothes or a uniform. However, my husband has recently been furloughed and it is imperative that I find a job with benefits. 

I guess I am uncomfortable with the fact that wardrobe requirements have changed since I last interviewed – as has my figure. I was a tall, slim, young woman with lots of skirt suits the last time I interviewed. Now I am a tall, mature, full-figured woman with a more fun, eclectic wardrobe. Every time I wear a black outfit, I feel like a dumpy, frumpy librarian or a funeral goer. I am looking at a variety jobs for which I am qualified from assistant manager at an upscale clothing boutique to department manager at a craft store to something administrative at a local hospital. 

Do I need to find a suit, either skirt or pant, or will separates do? Can I wear something a little more colorful than black or navy, my old standbys? Can I get away with pants as I am no longer comfortable in straight skirts with hose? Obviously I need to be on trend for the boutique position, where the others might require something more conservative? I assume I need to wear shape wear no matter what so that I look the best I can in whatever interview outfit(s) I settle upon. Correct? Also, for the art/craft store, do I dare wear a colorful shirt I made myself that would show I am in to the arts and crafts or should I stick to the standard outfit?

I would appreciate input from you and your readers. Thanks!

Back in the Workforce

What to Wear after Years Out of the Workforce

Dear Back in the Workforce,
Congrats on making this big step back going back to work! I really hope that you find something wonderful that you enjoy doing! You had quite a few questions, so I will answer them one by one.

Can I wear something a little more colorful than black or navy, my old standbys?

Don’t think you have to be frumpy in black. You can definitely dress up the interview outfit to match your personality and style. Some fun ways for interviews are to wear a bright colored shirt underneath the shirt jacket in whatever your favorite color is. I like yellow, pink, or bright green.  Or you can wear a regular black suit with a white collared shirt underneath and then dress it up with a big statement necklace that is bright and stands out.
Either of these options should be totally fine for the places you mentioned you would be interviewing at. Also, there is nothing wrong with adding a little bit of your personality to your interview outfit as long as it isn’t too provocative and it doesn’t take away from the amazing things that you are saying during the interview. You want them to remember you for how awesome your responses were and what a perfect fit for the position you are.  You don’t want them to remember you just because you had a great (or terrible) interview outfit.

Do I need to find a suit, either skirt or pant, or will separates do?

Separates are totally fine. Not everything needs to match. For instance, you could have black pants and a red or tan jacket, especially if you are interviewing for a more creative job in art, like you mentioned. Your pants or skirt and top don’t have to match exactly and you can have fun with it.
But, if you are interviewing somewhere that has a more professional environment, you may want to find a suit that matches. Also, you can either wear a skirt or pants, neither one is better for an interview. Whatever you are most comfortable in is best.

Can I wear something a little more colorful than black or navy, my old standbys?

Yes, please do, depending on where you are interviewing. As long as it is a blazer or jacket, I don’t think it really matters too much what color it is for the positions you mentioned.  But, if you are interviewing at a place with a more professional environment, I would stick to a black or brown suit.

Can I get away with pants as I am no longer comfortable in straight skirts with hose?

Definitely!! Whatever you are comfortable in because that is what will make you more confident and actually do better in the interview. I always wear pants to interview because I want people focused on me NOT my legs!  If I wear a skirt to an interview, I would be more self-conscious about myself and it would keep me from focusing on rocking the interview. So wear whatever you are most comfortable in.

I need to be trendy for the boutique position, where the other positions might require something more conservative? I assume I need to wear shapewear no matter what so that I look the best I can?

If it makes you feel better about your figure and yourself than wear it. Honestly, if you know you look good, you will do better in the interview. You can look good in plus size clothing too. When I know I look good in my work outfit, I actually do a better job at work. The two go hand in hand so if it makes you feel better, wear it. If you are going to be uncomfortable the whole time, don’t wear it. You want to be focused on those great responses to those interview questions, not that your shapewear is too tight.

For the art/craft store, do I dare wear a colorful shirt I made myself that would show I am into the arts and crafts or should I stick to the standard outfit?

Unless the shirt is a blazer or professional collared shirt, I wouldn’t wear it. I would stick to the standard outfit and maybe bring the shirt with you in your bag or bring a photo with you. At the end of an interview, you are usually asked if there is anything else you want to say and that would be a great place to share it and why you want this job so much. You could say that you want this job because you are so passionate about art and you even made this shirt yourself which I would love to show you.
I really hope this helped you!! I wish you the best of luck to you on the job hunt!! I am sure you will look fabulous!
Let me know if I can help with anything else!! Good luck!! CCG

What is your advice on what to wear to an interview for Back in the Workforce?

 

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