Interviewing

To blazer, or not to blazer, that is the question.

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The things no one will tell you about the fashion industry, from the viewpoint of an experienced professional.

By Oni Auer February 6, 2020

Recently a friend of mine forwarded me some copy that a highbrow fashion/beauty consulting agency posted on their Instagram as a “How to” guide for interviewing attire.

“What do you think about this?” She texted me as I quickly read the lengthy post.

It felt outdated, like a breath of the past, rules to dressing in a world that didn’t exist anymore. The fashion industry has changed drastically over the past 10 years, DTC distribution, mass online marketing stories and sustainable fashion solutions didn’t exist back then. People were staying in jobs much longer, there was less opportunity to be involved in tech, and a flat organization wasn’t a thing, the corporate fashion industry was different. In today’s world the average designer or merchandiser stays in a position for about 2 years, and the numbers of freelancers or consultants has skyrocketed. Your well roundedness within different facets, and different positions speaks to your experience, not your demise.

In the same thought process, the idea that you have to be one thing, stay in one job, and learn one way, leans in on outdated thinking, the idea that you have to dress one way for an interview, especially as a creative is a thing of the past. The first point in @khurtconsulting’s post was that you shouldn’t wear a suit to an interview unless it’s a suiting company, and in that case, you should wear their brand specifically. Secondarily she points out that you should dress with the spirit of the brand, and not to wear jeans or sneakers. Perhaps these points have not been completely ironed out, but I argue that you should dress like yourself and not like a brand. How else are you going to sell someone on who you are, and how awesome you are if you aren’t feeling your best, and showing your true self? I’m pretty sure I have showed up to 99% of all of my interviews in ripped jeans, a vintage blazer or leather jacket, some sort of top, and boots, heels or even sneakers. That’s me, casual, stylish, a little tom boy, a little throw back- with a good shoe of course, and I assure you I’ve gotten many job offers dressed this way. If I tried wearing something that I didn’t feel myself in, it would be a wrap.

Now where I agree with the thought process of dressing outside of yourself, is that I do think there is appreciation for having an ode to a brand. When I interviewed with New Balance, I didn’t wear my Nike’s, and if I was interviewing with Gucci, I certainly wouldn’t show up with a Louis Vuitton bag. Your thought process has to lend itself towards pretending that you already work for the company you are interviewing with, but that doesn’t mean you should alter your vibe entirely. Now having said that, I will say there is MUCH more room to play when you are a designer or design director or part of the creative team. I would imagine a CPA would show up in a button-down shirt, but maybe not! (shrugs)

Where I completely disagree with @khurtconsulting, having worked in this industry 16 years, and all over the world, is the comment that you should wear clear nail polish to your interview… what am I my grandmother? This is 2020, you want green nails, wear them, this is fashion darling have some fun for Christ’s sake! I think where @khurtconsulting was attempting to go with that comment is to be understated in your beauty efforts, which when it comes to hair and makeup, I think is a good thing, but being put together means different things for everyone. Sometimes being put together is a face full of makeup, sometimes it’s a head to toe lewk to kill. Yas.

So, if you are prepping for that designer, merchandiser, or buyer interview and you want to wear your printed dress, or your limited-edition Off-White sneakers, wear them! Part of what sets you apart in this industry beyond your talent is your style, and your sensibilities behind communicating it. Just promise me one thing… you won’t show up wearing clear nail polish. For the love of god.

X, Oni~


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Oni is currently an apparel design director by day and writer by night. Living and working in NYC, connecting with people through the commonalities that make us all human, and working on her journey as a writer while currently editing her first book.