Friday, July 2, 2010

Hired or (gulp) Fired?

Draft:
Earlier Drafts:
I wore this shift dress to a work-related event.
This headband kept my curls in check during a flight.
I'm head over heels for these heels!

Composition:
headband (J.Crew)
dress (Lulu's)
heels (gift from Liz, Xhilaration via Target)

Usage:
Yesterday I wore this outfit to a job interview.  I'll pause for your collective inhalation.  Does this look make you nervous?  It makes me nervous.  In fact, I have more anxiety today regarding yesterday's clothing than I have regarding yesterday's Q&A content.

This get-up has me sweating for the following reasons:
  1. Headband?  No really.  Headband?!  Many headbands gesture at the juvenile.  But this one?  This one with the oversized fabric bow?  It proclaims, "I am incapable of instructing your college freshmen because I struggle to maintain authority in the classroom."  I am banging my head - erm, glittery floral applique - against a wall over the choice.
  2. Bare arms.
  3. Naked legs.
  4. Peeping toes.
Though, to confess, immediately after snapping these photos I wimped out on my new-fave peep toes - or, rather, I conceded to a moment of sobriety - and exchanged them for these more conservative heelsKatie saw me just before the meeting; she approved.  I think?  I hope?  My feeble confidence wavers even as I type this post!

Three potential caveats/saving graces:
  1. It's summer?  It's toasty outside?  Bare skin is thus more acceptable in the office?
  2. I interviewed for a position within my own English department?
  3. My interviewer wore shorts and Birkenstocks?
What's your assessment?  Is this a "Hire Me" or an "Uh, Eventually You'll Have to Fire Me" look?

Prompts:
  • Is this outfit appropriate for a job interview?  If it isn't, to what sort of event should I wear it instead?
  • What's your go-to look for an interview?
  • Would you have worn these accessories to a professional meeting?  I'm afraid the headband is too juvenile and the peep toe heels are too sexy.  Do you read them the same way?
  • Do your workplace sartorial standards adjust to each season?

20 comments:

Kara M. said...

Hi Anne-Marie. Knowing the interviewer, I don't think she would use your outfit against you as they are trying to find qualified grad students to teach this course. As a teaching rule, I hardly ever bare skin or wear open-toes. Perhaps I'm conservative, but students will spend more time checking you out than paying attention (though they tend to come up with numerous distractions all on their own). My go-to for anything teaching-related is a button down shirt, trousers, flats, and hoop earrings. Depending on the weather, I'll accessorize with scarves, flat sandals, necklaces, or wear a v-neck sweater, cardigan, or vest. However, I try to turn my teaching attire into a uniform of sorts. Hope that helps. Good luck! :)

Michelle said...

I'll echo Kara in saying I think the outfit was fine for the interview in our department, but in another setting, I'd select something more conservative. I love the outfit on its own merits, by the way, especially for a dressed-up summer party (e.g., engagement, baptisms, housewarming parties)! In the classroom, maybe remove the headband and add a cardigan. My go-to interview attire has generally been a suit, even for high school teaching jobs when you can get away with something less formal, like a sheath dress and jacket/cardigan.

Good luck on getting the job!

Lindsey said...

That is a perfectly staid dress and the open-toe heels are lovely. My only addition might be some sleeves via a jacket or cardigan to mitigate some of the bare skin. But even without, I wouldn't have held this outfit against a potential hire. Quite to the contrary, someone who dresses with purpose is far more likely to win the job then someone who dresses without a plan.

Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous said...

It's frustrating, isn't it, how we often contain our own sense of sartorial self when it comes to a job interview. I agree that it's prudent to remain a bit on the conservative side until you see how everyone else dresses, but there's also a sense of "hiding" who you really are until you've been accepted by others. That being said, I can't think of anyone who would hold a headband in comparison with the stellar and impressive record I'm sure you have and go, "Well, her credentials are perfect...but did you see her hair?!?!"

Good luck!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for the encouragement and the advice about dressing for the classroom. I take these to heart, especially since you guys have years of professional experience and I'm new to the game. Thank you for the words of wisdom!

For the record, the interview itself was quite enjoyable. Not my best, but I learned a lot. I think I'll revise both my answers and my outfit for future meetings. :)

- Anne-Marie

Brooke said...

Congrats on the interview and I hope it went well!! Seeing as how you interviewed within the department (and the interviewer wore Birkenstocks), I think it's safe to safe your outfit was fine.

I always wonder about interview attire as well, especially in these warmer months. I don't want to roast during the interview (hello, already sweating bullets I'm so nervous!), but also don't want to look like I'm heading to the beach post-interview. I think you found a very happy medium. I look forward to hearing about your new job :)

Scholar Style Guide said...

Brooke, thanks! At this point I haven't heard from any of my interviewers, so no job yet. Keeping my fingers crossed, though.

- AM

Diana said...

I think this outfit is actually perfectly fine for an interview,especially one in a casual setting. I might lose the headband and add a cardigan, but I tend to think that bare arms and headband are better than sweaty and hot and uncomfortable any day.
For interviews, I think the setting has a lot to do with what one would wear. In my field of academia (research science) if you wore a full suit to an interview, people would probably be like, "who the hell does she think she IS?" I tend to go for a button down and knee-length skirt, and, yes, bare legs.

A-Dubs said...

What a gorgeous dress! And I love both choices of shoes - though I applaud your choice of the more conservative pumps for the interview.

I agree that adding a cardigan in the classroom might be a good idea. But I'd keep the headband. If nothing else, it'll help keep eyes front during the sweaty summer in-class hours!

In terms of the interview, as others have noted, if your interviewer's wearing shorts and Birkenstocks, they've set the bar for professionalism pretty low. (Like, really VERY low - is there a lower place?) Thus, regardless of the bows and flowers (which might not work in a department where they don't already know you), I'd say this ensemble's a winner.

I hope you get the job. 'Fingers crossed!

A-Dubs said...

Addendum: I think the headband's lovely and looks great on you. My comments above don't make this clear, and for that I apologize.

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Oh, I hope you get the job!

In my field, which is still largely dominated by men, I would not wear both bare arms and legs or a headband to an interview, but AUH assures me that over in English they are much more expressive in their dress. I'll chime in with A-Dubs and say that I do think it was wise of you to switch shoes.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Welp, I have been wearing bare arms, bare legs, and bare toes to this office almost daily for the past several weeks, so at the very least, they're used to seeing it! What Michelle Obama does, I can justify in my head as acceptable. : )

While I think a slightly more "typical" outfit (suit, etc) may have helped them read you as more "professional," I certainly don't think this outfit hurt your chances at all. I think a bigger mistake would have been wearing something too undergraduate-ey. Here, you look like an MA grad, and since this is the main qualification of the job, I think the outfit is successful in this important regard.

If you had interviewed with the previous associate chair and kept the peep toes, I guarantee you she would have complimented you on them! Context makes such a big difference. I am so thankful that "fashion" is not a dirty word in our department!

-Liz

Kara M. said...

Ditto on Liz's comment. Ours tends to be a fashionable department. ;)

La Historiadora de Moda said...

Liz, I would wear bare arms and legs to the office and to teach in, but not *both* to an interview (I have done one or the other), especially if I didn't know the context or whether or not the hiring committee was fashion-friendly. It's just one of my sartorial rules for interviewing in academia.

Dorky Medievalist said...

I agree with much of what has been said. I am also in English, though in a more traditional field than A-Dubs. I had a two-day campus visit for the job I have now and I wore a grey suit on the first day and a black skirt and twin-set on the second day. I wore both with minimal, understated jewellery but I wore pink wedges with the grey suit and leopard print flats with the black. This is to say that I think it is best to tone down fashion flair for an interview, especially if you don't know what you are walking into, but that you should be able to rock one individual piece that says "you", but also understated. And yet, one of my committee members thought the twin-set was far too casual for an interview even though I wore it anyway.

I also think that, as young women who also look young, we need to work harder to be taken seriously by our (senior) colleagues and our students alike and what we wear can help or hinder us in that regard (however unfair, this has been my experience). For that reason, I don't think I would wear the headband to teach in or to interview, but I err on the side of conservative, for better or worse.

Sounds to me though that you know the department and they know you so you will be fine. And I love love love that dress.

Scholar Style Guide said...

LHdM, I think your sartorial rules for interviewing sound completely reasonable and align pretty closely with what I wear when interviewing. My comments were intended as a response to AM's anxiety about the headband/bare arm/bare leg/peep toe combination, and since I know the context of that interview quite well, I was speaking about that specific environment.

-Liz

Scholar Style Guide said...

And DM, I definitely think you're right about young women having to put more effort into looking professional given age and gender expectations/stereotypes. When I was teaching high school, older and male teachers would never get criticized for wearing even the most casual clothes (jeans, tees, and sneakers were evidently acceptable), but if I wore a skirt an inch above my knee this somehow gave the ladies in the office the right to comment on my choices of "professional wardrobe."

-Liz

Scholar Style Guide said...

So I'm late, per usual, to weigh in on this matter, but I did see Anne-Marie just before she interviewed and she looked lovely and professional, without any compromise to her personal style. Looking at this photo, I think that the cardigan was a good addition - it was a sheer-ish soft pink (I think?). I'm still a big fan of the headband, which I believe I said in person too.

I'm with Liz and Kara - our department does tend to be pretty fashion friendly. Our former associate chair would routinely check my shoes, and she would be (jokingly) disappointed if I was wearing just plain black pumps instead of flashier shoes.

I tend to dress very conservatively for interviews, but I like Dorky Medievalist's approach of wearing fun, though not over-the-top shoes.

-Katie

What Would a Nerd Wear said...

ohh exciting! i think the dress is rad and actually perfect for a summer interview.

Miss. Studios said...

I want to be in this outfit with that pretty hairband and deliver myself to my fiance! You look tooo cute!