My friend D.A. Wolf, the incredible writer and creator of the Daily Plate of Crazy blog, is back today with an inspiring, amusing and “value-added” post about job interviews when one is a femme d’un certain age. . .
I open my closet. What jumps out?
The flirty section. Pinks and purples. The shoe invasion – in every color possible. Stacks of T-shirts and sweaters – toppled over, naturally.
Now, now. It’s a face-to-face with a prospective client, and a gig I really want: the organization does great work in my community.
As a consultant and freelance writer, this may sound like a run-of-the-mill encounter, but it’s been years since I had a ready-to-wear section in my closet, worthy of meeting a client. Most of the time, I work from a home office, and my clients generally come from referrals. We rarely meet in person; instead, we email, we phone, we Skype, we chat… but sit across a desk face-to-face?
Not so much.
And this leads me to my dilemma of the past two weeks. Despite a closet full of outfits and shelves of shoe boxes… you got it… the cries could be heard up and down my street: I don’t have a thing to wear!
How to Dress for an Interview
Over the years, I’ve been on both sides of the interview table – hiring employees in corporate life, and seeking positions over the course of two decades. When it comes to dressing for success in an interview, the basics are straightforward – regardless of age.
My own rules are simple:
- Be neat and appropriate, as befits the organization
- Nothing too sexy, nothing too informal, nothing that will jangle the interviewer’s eye
- Anticipate the elements of the job and job site; take that into account when dressing for the meeting
- Wear what is comfortable, and something that gives you confidence.
And my personal favorite?
Wear gorgeous underthings that make you feel divine. Yes, it’s tied to that confidence item above, and for me – it’s key.
As for the “dressing your age” dilemma that pops up all too often? Does it play into dressing for success? Is it crucial to meeting prospects, partners, or clients?
Personally, I don’t buy into “dress your age” – whatever that means these days. And I love a touch of quirky. But an interview with a client you’re dying to attract is not the time for quirky. It is the time for being circumspect, and confident. Because confidence really is our secret weapon – and in my experience, confidence in how you look enhances confidence to perform.
Wardrobe Diversity As I take a quick inventory of my closet, I am, however, at a bit of a loss.
I’ve had a long (and meandering) post-divorce dating history, so flirty frocks are in abundance. Suitable for meeting a prospective client?
Non, non, et non.
From my corporate days?
I have separates worn with conservative customers, and another more “spirited” set of options from my travels to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Suitable for this particular prospect?
Non, non, et non.
My style preference for myself?
I believe simplicity rocks – partly, because at 5’0 tall (on a Big Hair Day), I can’t carry off anything fussy or over-the-top. The organization I’ll be talking to is somewhat informal but operates within a conservative community. I admit, I’m a tad stymied. I end up running out to buy new pants and get lucky – scoring tailored black trousers in a lightweight fabric – at 70% off!
I add a black fitted top with a loose beige jacket – one of my favorites (a 10-year old Eileen Fisher), and I’m ready to rock ‘n roll! Well, almost…
Shoes, Glorious Shoes
The all-important interview footwear! Don’t all women notice other women’s shoes? The shoes must be impeccable, n’est-ce pas?
As I eye the boxes and rummage beneath piles of sweaters, I find hot heels, chunky heels, kitten heels… anything and everything except a simple, mid-height black pump.
Non, non, et non.
My favorite Enzo Angiolini platform peep-toe pumps?
Non, non, et non.
My fur-trimmed mules? My color-blocked Maddens? My strappy splurge in the form of Via Spigas?
(You know the answer.) I feel panic rising as I imagine myself woefully floundering over footwear, realizing that a dash to the nearest designer shoe outlet is hors de question – utterly out of the question. Even if I could justify the expense, it’s too late in the day. I need a light bulb moment, a Cinderella apparition, something to save the day – and then it hits me, like a flash!
My best booties!
They have a two inch heel, they’re extremely comfortable, and there’s not a scuff mark on them. The pants are on the longish side, so no one would ever know…
Color me relieved when the shoe fits, the outfit works, and the afternoon goes well. I return to my usual tasks in my home office, and the ease of working at my computer in whatever I please (including my furry bear slippers – but shhhhh, you didn’t hear me say that).
Interview Intrigues, Round 2
A few days later, there’s a second call requesting that I return to meet Board members. Zut! Should I be nervous? Did I commit one of those Inane Interview No-No’s by mistake?
I decide not to sweat it, to work with the clothing I have, and I go with the same pants, a different black blouse, a fitted black jacket (also Eileen Fisher), and a pop of color by way of a soft green scarf.
Netting things out: the meeting went well, and whatever the outcome I knew I’d dressed the part and given it my all. I also found I loved sitting across a table from the people I was potentially going to be working with. Occasionally, face-to-face impressions offer essential “body language” information which can be critical. And for a woman of a certain age who is looking to be hired or nab a new client – in person, we can offer posture and presence (very important), speech patterns, and overall energy to inspire confidence in our abilities.
The best part?
I got the gig! And yes, there’s another meeting coming up, but this time it’s a garden party. Patio. Lawn. Mingling. Mon Dieu, I’ll be shopping in my closet again.
Whatever I wear, you can bet my French sous-vêtements and Peretti earrings will be in attendance.
But what will I do for shoes?
© D A Wolf