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Red lipstick and the job interview

Discussion in 'The Powder Room' started by ThePowderKeg, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. Amy Jeanne

    Amy Jeanne Call Me a Cab

    Maybe where you worked Kate, but I've worked at places who refused to hire people because they came to the interview dressed a certain way. Looks *do* matter. And it's always better to be on the safe side and stay as "generically professional" as possible.
  2. ThePowderKeg

    ThePowderKeg One of the Regulars

    Well, my interview has been postponed, since the hiring manager is ill today.

    Last night I tried on my interview outfit and my husband told me I looked "OK, but not like yourself. Maybe you should go buy a suit you love..." Naturally, there is nothing in stores right now that is seasonally or stylistically appropriate. Grrrr... All I want is a simple classic skirt suit with a proper fit. No garish colors and no black because it looks too severe (and because I have a ton of black). Maybe I'll get lucky and find something over the weekend. Something that doesn't scream crazy old lady or look like Easter threw up...which is all I encountered yesterday.
  3. As you say - that is how things should work! But I have stood up to shake hands with an interviewer, had her have to look up at me (she was really short) and knew that I was never going to get that job.

    On the other hand, I interviewed for a job at a hotel once (not a client-facing role) and was told that I would be expected to wear a uniform suit, and I knew I couldn't do that because it is just not me.
  4. I think how you look plays into the look that people want when they are hiring. They want to hire someone who they think takes the job seriously and will fit into the office and be accepted by customers and coworkers. How that translates into clothes, makeup, etc. depends on the office.

    I don't think that vintage is all that far-off than most office formal attire. Sure, your hair is styled a bit different, but a suit is a suit is a suit. You might accessorize differently and wear gloves to the office, but you take them off while working. (I also remove my hat while working unless it is a cocktail party, under the belief that hats are somewhat distracting inside). You shouldn't be wearing a 50's sun dress or a cocktail dress to a formal office where you should wear a suit, just like someone shouldn't wear jeans. It is disrespectful. Perhaps I am the only one who feels this way, but I see vintage work wear (suits mainly) in the office formal professional environment to fit right in. Granted, the look may be a bit different, but suits haven't really changed all that much.
  5. Very good point. I've worn vintage suits in public speaking engagements, on television, and to all sorts of different interviews, and never once has anyone outsde of other vintage people actually recognized them as "vintage." If anyone comments at all, it's nothing more than "I like your suit."

    That said, though, if you do wear a vintage suit, it's best to wear as conservative a cut and color as you can find -- avoid extreme 40s shoulder pads, for example, or ornate beaded jackets, or heavily ornamented or eccentrically-cut lapels, or rhinestone buttons. And wear a very plain blouse underneath -- nothing frilly or frothy. If you follow those rules, a vintage suit can be appropriate in any situation where a suit is called for.

    As far as lipstick goes, when you're older you can get away with red much easier than you can when you're younger. Something for the kids to look forward to!
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011
  6. BoPeep

    BoPeep Practically Family

    . . . . and owning a tardis would be a bad thing? :)
  7. Drappa

    Drappa One Too Many

    I am sure that looks really matter for a lot of people hiring, as my Mom hires people and know she'd care if they looked unprofessional. At my last job I overheard my bosses often when there was a position open in a government job. Once they commented on a woman being a bit too glamorous for the job they were advertising, but I didn't see her so am not sure what they meant. Of course it's not supposed to happen, but it does. In Germany they quite often require a passport photo with your application, which I have always found annoying.
    Just recently I saw a show on beauty on Channel 4 where they tested a bunch of pubs by sending a young attractive man to enquire about job openings. Virtually everywhere he went he was told they had quite a few jobs at the moment and that they'd call him. A few minutes later they sent in a man with a facial disfigurement, and he got turned down at every single place, or told they had no positions open. Now, I know red lipstick is not the same issue, but I still think it sends a message for many people, and you won't know if they "get it" until much later.
  8. Isis

    Isis One of the Regulars

    I think it is a good idea to try to find out the code on a particular workplace, if one can. I mentioned earlier that my my job has a really relaxed attitude, if you don't have to wear an uniform (I don't) then practically everyone wear jeans and sweater. So I actually dressed down for my interview. Not jeans, but really low-key, if neat and pressed. I got the job, but even so I got the remark that I maybe I should consider not be "so dressed up" when I started. And I went home and tried to figure out hon on earth I would be able to do that... :)

    So on that interview, red lipstick would certainly have stood out in the wrong way. But no one have minded what I wear since. I work in a small close-knit group that doesn't always take well to new people, so I understood later that the remark I got was aimed to make sure I fit in. But in truth they are all a bunch of individualists who doesn't care one wit what I wear as long as no one tells them what the should wear. So I wear my skirts and high heels and make-up even at 6 in the morning and no one minds at all. :)
  9. Very true!
  10. When I was working I always wore vintage suits to the office (dress suits/skirt suits) and pencil dresses and I only ever received compliments - vintage can look so good and so professional in the office - very put together.
  11. Amy Jeanne

    Amy Jeanne Call Me a Cab

    When I said "no vintage" to the interview I had in mind huge puff sleeves and frilly dresses. NOT suits. Suits are fine.

    Once you get the job, BREAK OUT WITH THE PUFFS!!! I did :D
  12. ThePowderKeg

    ThePowderKeg One of the Regulars

    I'm trying to focus on looking polished and professional without being over the top. I lean toward ridiculous shoes and lots of red everything, not just lipstick. I have no idea what the office dress code is and all my attempts to find out have been in vain thus far (though LinkedIn makes it a little easier). Basically, no matter where I end up working next I'm going to need to invest in a more professional wardrobe. I like things that have some sort of detail to them, like this jacket... http://www.whitehouseblackmarket.com/store/browse/product.jsp?maxRec=136&pageId=1&productId=570011932&viewAll=&prd=Mocha+Elyse+Ruffle+Jacket&subCatId=&color=&fromSearch=&inSeam=&posId=3&catId=cat6219285&cat=Wear+to+Work&onSale=&colorFamily=&maxPg=9&size=. The sort of thing that could work with a pencil skirt and a great vintage bag and shoes.

    I'm more focused on having a great portfolio and asking intelligent questions that demonstrate I've done my research about the company than I am on my looks, but as others have pointed out, appearances often matter more than we'd like them to during interviews.
  13. Julius8122

    Julius8122 New in Town

    I guess I just don't see the problem wearing red lips or vintage at an interview. Since I do the hiring for my department I think it's more important that a person dresses like they want the job rather than wear jeans/tshirts/no makeup.
    I don't really think there is a right or wrong answer with this. I maintain that if you are comfortable wearing red lips to an interview then do it. Personally, I feel wrong when I'm not wearing it and that is what I meant when I posted it's a part of me. The negative responses were unnecessary.
    Again, good luck when you have the interview. Wear what you want. As long as you look professional you will be fine.
  14. I agree, as a manager at a small company, the thing I look for most in new applicants is that they are professionally dressed and confidant. I say if it makes you feel confidant then go with it. Just make sure that you feel like you and that you carry yourself in a professional manner.
  15. I really think it does boil down to the workplace though. I work in a conservative field (mainly with business school faculty). For most business faculty in my field, anything suit-like is considered appropriate for everyday wear. However, if you are interviewing for a position on that faculty, you should be dressed in business formal. For women that is a blue or black suit with a skirt that falls within two inches of the knee, with preference for it falling just above the knee. Stockings should be black with black heeled close-toed shoes, no higher than 3 inches. Makeup should be natural looking. No loud colors or low cut blouses or heavy jewerly.

    I've seen these interviews- they immediately write off anyone in a gray suit (or heaven forbid the worst) the pant suit or the peek-toe shoes. But most places aren't that strict as my field. I, personally, like having the strict rules for interviewing. I have never wondered what to wear.

    One of the best pieces of advice I've every gotten is that you should dress for the position you want- not the one you have.
  16. Good advice, but just as an aside -- I never thought I'd see the day when knees were to be shown as a part of formal business attire. Guess I've been out of office life longer than I realized -- showing knees, to me, makes the wearer look juvenile.
  17. Lauren

    Lauren Distinguished Service Award

    Ditto, Lizzie. But I also hate showing my knees...
    I'm taking mental notes of all of this in case I get an interview I'm really hoping to get :D
  18. ThePowderKeg

    ThePowderKeg One of the Regulars

    Heck, maybe I'll wear my black suit. No knee exposure, more formal, better fitting...dilemma solved.

    Where did I get the no black suits at interviews idea? I know somewhere along the line, I was told that black was too start for interviews, but apparently, that was wrong.

    This will not stop me from looking for the perfect blue suit this weekend...
  19. I think it came in sometime during the 90s (perhaps the late 80s), but I could be wrong. I've actually measured some of my skirts to see how well they fit the 2 inch rule. (There is NO WAY I am going to lose an interview to an inch of fabric.) I think it is safer to be on the long side than the short side, and anyplace between the 2 inches above and below is fine.

    There are many who say that this extreme form of business formal for women is sexist (especially the pant suit issue).

    People who are well established get to break these rules. One of my mentors has written the most cited paper in my field. He wears old sweaters and jeans to the conferences to present, when everybody else is all decked out in their business formal.
  20. I think a skirt below the knee looks more elegant than one that falls above - I'm also not a big fan of showing my knees.

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