Thursday, April 2, 2015

Interview musings with Kirstie Clements

Yesterday I attended the Kirstie Clements book launch. This post in no way attempts to cover what went on there, but there were a few things said about interview clothing which I thought were worth mentioning. And so the scene is set.....

The scene was the posh upper level of the cinemas at Westfield Parramatta.

A white stage with two seats, a Dymocks stand without Dymocks branding and a hand full of small round tables with bar stools.

About 15 women guests were there when I arrived.

Paula Joye was going to be interviewing Kirstie Clements about her new book on working in the fashion industry.  The book covers entry level positions to many rungs above that.

After the interview, three beautiful models, poster girls for the slick pony tail, twirled around for us wearing "interview appropriate" clothing.  The looks were from Veronika Maine, Saba & Witchery.

Paula did commence the session with the comment that the book wasn’t just about fashion jobs – it was about the butcher, the baker & the candlestick maker.

And so my contribution comes into play.....

Those three looks would never get anyone hired in the conservative sectors of law, banking, accounting and finance in general.  I can say that with 100% confidence after many years of hiring in finance in Sydney's CBD.

Kirstie queried whether my reasoning was that the looks were too sexy. No, it’s not that. They are just too fashion forward & their silhouettes are very different to what the other 99% of candidates would be wearing in those industries.

Specifically items like:
·       the flowy cape;
·       the open toe slingback boots (accountants & the like, just do not understand seasonally confused shoes);
·       a deep vee low neckline (perhaps it depends on what job you are going for);
·       a coat placed resting over the shoulders or a blanket coat

First, these three looks are too fashion forward for interviewees in the conservative sectors of law, finance, banking, accounting where they are going for technical or client facing roles. Marketing roles in those firms, yes, fine. 

As for the coat over the shoulders, to “editorialise your look”, they mentioned that it looks fabulous & it’s easy to take off during an interview as you don’t have to mess with sleeves etc.  That’s only part of the story.

Think of it this way – you reach out to shake the interviewer’s hand with your right hand, holding your resume book with your left hand. What are the chances that coat is going to slip off? Pretty high. Pretty embarrassing. 

Secondly, at the very least, in a conservative sector interview, you wear a jacket (not a coat, unless it’s a blizzard day) & YOU NEVER TAKE IT OFF DURING THE INTERVIEW. EVER. 

Why? A jacket not only covers any messiness underneath (blouses, bra straps, boobs, yes that’s a lot of potential messiness), but gives you more presence & authority than ANY other piece of clothing can ever give you. It makes you look smarter, more experienced, more mature and more credible than anyone not wearing a jacket.  

What about executive levels? 

You can add half a zero to the spend on any of these looks and you have appropriate executive looks even in the conservative sectors, although I would qualify that when it comes to seasonally confused boots & low necklines.

CBD girls - image issues

As part of this discussion, Kirstie mentioned how the CBD girls just look horrid (that’s my word; she is far too refined to say it so bluntly). But she specifically mentioned the different shades of black suits & I added the peek-a-boob, the chipped heels & the VPL.  Yes, those girls definitely need image makeovers. We understood each other. 

Unfortunately the stores are too busy pushing product now rather than focusing on relationships by providing wardrobe building blocks to customers. Sad but true. 

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