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While some of us are busy drafting our packing lists for #shotgirlsummer after over a year of social limitations and strict guidelines, others are less concerned about what they're going to wear for their first post-quarantine vacation. With businesses starting to re-open, and industries having the budget and flexibility to hire new employees, many are preoccupied with picking out the quintessential summer interview outfit for their dream job. And if you clicked on this article, it's probably safe to assume you're among the latter. In which case, congratulations are in order.
The job interviews of today might look a little differently than the job interviews of pre-pandemic times. Depending on the profession, many businesses are continuing a work-from-home format, and might even be conducting interviews over Zoom. But whether you're meeting virtually or in person, it's important to dress for the occasion (and not just from the waist up). Easier said than done, either way, given summer weather conditions will now also be a factor.
In addition to wishing you luck, we reached out to professionals across 10 different industries to gather their best tips for pulling together summer interview outfits that could help you land the role. Their advice for how to dress for success below.
Katie Kwiatkowski, a classroom teacher in New Jersey, tells InStyle that even if you feel the climate of the school is comfortable or casual, dress as professionally as possible. This could translate to a suit or dress and blazer combo, and heels or flats for footwear. You can definitely incorporate a pop of color to show off your personality a little if your outfit is made up of mostly neutrals, but always air on the side of professionalism.
"Never wear jeans," Kwiatkowski adds. "Keep everything professional. That goes for makeup, too."
"I wore a black sleeveless shift dress to my summer interviews. It had a higher neckline and the hemline grazed the knee," recalls Maria Guerra, RD. "[I don't suggest wearing anything] too form fitting, and make sure you wear closed toe shoes." This is an especially important detail, she says, as your tour of the facility will likely include a trip to the kitchens.
Marie Aziz, Esq. recommends aspiring attorneys dress "business formal" for interviews — even in the summer.
"A full suit with heels or flats, and a button down or nice top underneath your blazer," she tells us, adding that while reasonable minds may differ about whether stockings are appropriate with a skirt suit, she doesn't see a problem either way.
As far as color or style, steer clear of busy prints or bold colors. "The classic blue, black, or grey are definitely preferred," Aziz says. "I like to find suits with subtle flair to show off my personality."
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According to Michaela Tozzi, DMD, when it comes to dressing for dentistry positions, there are two things to keep in mind. First, it's important to be as professional as can be. Second, you can never go wrong with a nice pantsuit in black or navy blue or, if it's spring/summer, perhaps a beige or camel color.
"Don't forget to add a personal touch," Tozzi adds. "Consider some cute earring studs, a headband, or fun heels to add a little flair while still keeping it professional."
Aspiring Public Relations Coordinators and Executives
Kylie Peterson, an associate director at Small Girls PR, wants to let you in on a little secret: Before you start brainstorming the perfect look for your interview at a PR agency (or any job in any profession, for that matter), it's a good idea to do a little research into the company so you can get an accurate sense of its dress code and company culture.
"Public relations jobs can be in a number of industries, so what I'd wear for an interview at a fashion PR agency might not be appropriate when interviewing for a PR role at say, a crisis communications firm," Peterson tells InStyle.
Over the years, she's narrowed down her interview looks to two. The first is a fitted knit tucked into well-tailored wide-leg pants. "If you're interviewing for a PR role at a brand or an agency that has more of a buttoned up company culture, this is the look I'd turn to," Peterson says. The second, for positions in fashion PR, is a little more creative.
"[For this type of interview, I] gravitate towards a midi dress and leather jacket pairing," Peterson says. "Wearing heels to an interview always makes me feel more confident and polished, so I dress up this more casual interview look with mules (the indisputable queen of shoe silhouettes, in my opinion) or a square-toed boot."
Aspiring Yoga Instructors
When it comes to yoga interviews and auditions, Julie Weinstock, a 200-hour registered yoga teacher, recommends dressing the way you would show up to teach.
"You want to look professional but also be able to move freely," Weinstock tells InStyle. For example, if you have a lucky pair of leggings or a yoga set that makes you feel your best, "break those out for sure."
The goal is to wear something clean that fits well (though not too loose or too tight), that also makes you feel good.
"I'd even suggest adding a little something subtle with your own flair," Weinstock adds. "This could be a favorite cardigan on top or a scarf to tie it all together. Avoid anything too flashy (save the bedazzled jumpsuit for another day) but if nothing else, sport a little good luck charm for yourself and then let your personality shine."
Aspiring Makeup Artists
Makeup Artists are known for wearing black, but MAc senior national artist, Michelle Clark wants aspiring MUA's to know it's not the only chic, professional color option for these types of interviews.
"Olives, slate grays and deep blues are also great choices," Clark says, and suggests choosing your color scheme firs before approaching your actual outfit.
When it comes to picking an ensemble, Clark has two go-to looks she leans on, one being a billowy oxford shirt tucked into matching trousers, and with a big chunky bracelet or necklace. This choice "keeps your look cool and on trend while adding an air of professionalism." The second is a pencil skirt, a form fitting T-shirt, and an oversized blazer cuffed at the sleeves, with accessories like fun earrings and a big statement ring.
Of course, the final accessory is your makeup, says Clark, "so choose a statement eye or lip to seal the deal."
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Aspiring Hair Stylists
As far as your interview outfit goes, Holly Dear, a hair stylist and founder of House of Dear Salon in Dallas, says aspiring hair artists should present themselves by wearing simple lines and accessorizing with something edgy that highlights their personality.
"For example, a future stylist in my space would accessorize with a colorful scarf, an irreverent shoe with a fabulous heel shape or color, or bright and bold accessories, the likes of which you may find on Iris Apfel," Dear tells InStyle.
When it comes to their hair, however, that's where you should really go big or go home.
"A hair artist is a walking advertisement of their skills and artistry; they should always look the part," says Dear. "They need to show off their skills on their own tresses. Extreme hair color should be commercial and look professionally done."
Aspiring Fashion Stylist
Celebrity stylist Andrew Gelwicks says showcasing your individual style is "paramount" to landing a role in the industry.
"It is important though to show your personality and your unique taste, but at the same time do not compromise on professionalism," says Gelwicks. "Find the balance between showing up for a professional job interview, while at the same time showing your style."
Dr. Annie Gonzalez, a board certified Miami dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology, tells InStyle that when it comes to summer interview outfits in particular, your clothing has to keep you cool just as much as it has to keep you looking cool.
"Thankfully, wide-leg pants are all the rage this season," Gonzalez says via email exchange. "They allow more breathing room than regular trousers if you choose not to wear a skirt or shift dress. If going the pants, route, I would suggest wide-leg pants, a silk blouse or camisole with a cardigan or lightweight, cropped blazer. "
As for accessories, Gonzalez recommends opting for delicate pieces, like chain-link necklaces, and a good quality handbag that doesn't overpower the outfit or look disproportionate. Ballet flats, dressy wedges, or pumps pass for footwear, while your nails should be manicured and not overly long. The goal is to look clean and hygienic.
Aspiring Fashion Editors
Movies and TV shows have led us to believe that choosing the perfect outfit for a fashion interview can be half the battle, but that's not always the case, says InStyle's Samantha Sutton, who once kept a puffer coat on during a winter interview and still landed the job.
"You should try to incorporate some trends or showcase your own personal style — something that says you know what you're talking about, but isn't too over-the-top in a way that's distracting," she says. However, there's no need to stress over specifics, even if you've heard horror stories similar to The Devil Wears Prada. "I think it would be really silly to pass up someone with great writing skills and true talent just because they wore shoes that I personally dislike. It's a creative industry, and I've worked at places were dress codes were pretty loose. I honestly care more about your ability to do the job over what you're wearing."