It’s application season and thus I am once again plagued with the question of whether I should go for the expected blue, black, or gray suits or be myself and wear things that include more than one pattern or color palette. There is nothing wrong with going the traditional route but for me it feels very suffocating and almost like an erasure of my identity. There is no doubt a potential risk of rejection or dislike of a person who dares to dress outside of the expectations, but I do not think it’s a zero-sum loss.
I think there is a sense of empowerment in dressing in a way that is both fitting for the situation and represents who you are. If we repeat the same process over and over of dressing in ways that do not reflect anything about who we are, the system never changes. The system is thus never asked to expand its imaginary of what is expected. So I say, no blue suiting or at least not all the time.
Now while I think we should challenge the system in how we dress, I would still say do it in ways that will not be completely detrimental to your chances of landing the acceptance. Here are the ways I have challenged the system with my clothing choices:
The funny thing is every time I have worn my matte red heels I have had positive comments from my women interviewers. One of my interviewers noted, years later, how stylish and confident I had looked on interview day.
While I agree somewhat with the idea that one should stand out based on what they say and not what they are wearing, but because we live in a very visual society I think it is fair and probably important to also dress in ways that represent you. I feel very un-confident when I am not clothed in ways that feel authentic to me and so a big part of wearing things beyond the expected black/blue/gray is about making myself feel confident and eliminate the element of “feeling out of myself” or “caricature” from my worries and free up some mind space to give the very best interview I can.
What are your thoughts on choosing the “right” outfit for interviews? Will you blue suit or color suit? What shapes the suit you wear?