My faculty interview clothing! Decision time.

I have a faculty job interview at an med school in New York, on Wednesday and Thursday. Eek. Luckily most of my interview capsule still fits and I have a lot of good options. I just need to decide today before I fly out tomorrow morning.

Job talks are the only time you'll see a biologist in a suit, and a suit can be overkill, especially in the basic research departments that are full of mad scientist types who wear jeans and old t-shirts to lab. My friend there said most candidates didn't wear suits - but I'm not sure he'd notice what someone wore! As a woman I have a lot of leeway to wear what I want, but I also have to think about blending in (there are no women in this department yet, which I know they're trying to improve!).

So my goal is:

  1. True to my personal aesthetic
  2. Something I feel confident and relaxed in
  3. Snazzy but not standing out too much


  1. I do not have time to hem or alter anything. :(
  2. I'll wear my hair down as in these photos, and just a touch of makeup
  3. On Wednesday it will be 60 degrees(!) so I can wear open shoes, but I'll have ankle boots in case of rain.
  4. These photos are awful, sorry!

Option 1 (photos 1-4): This is my default.

  • Everlane wool trousers (need a good steaming, which I will do at the hotel)
  • Milly silk shell (omg I love this HEWI, found at Crossroads last month)
  • Theyskens wool blazer
  • LD Tuttle shoes

The trousers are too big but the silhouette under the jacket is better than other black trousers in my wardrobe. I like the slim cut of the legs. I plan to keep the jacket on.

Option 2 (5-8): 
Same, with grey wool Rag & Bone trousers. I found these at the Rack for $40 and they fit quite well (other than the length? which is passable). I'm not sure I like the black jacket, grey trousers combo. I only wear black normally, so I actually feel uncomfortable in this outfit. But the all-black suit in option 1 is also rather stark, so perhaps this is a nice way to tone it down.

Option 3 (9-10):
Same, with R13 jeans. Friends in similar departments say the jeans would be fine, but I understand why you all said no on this. The appeal here is that the skinny legs work very well with the bold, wide jacket; with wider pants, the jacket just makes me look larger than I am.

Day 2 (11-12):
This is what I'm wearing for the second day of the interview, meeting with all the faculty individually. R13 crossover jeans, Uniqlo silk shirt, Allsaints ankle boots. Also adding my favorite dressy cardigan because it'll be cold, but I accidentally deleted that photo.

Random other things:
I am not going to wear a skirt (it's a bad idea, fair or not), but I like these looks. The silk DeMeulemeester skirt needs to be steamed. The wool skirt is another Rag & Bone Rack score, also $40, and I love it so much that I'm keeping it even if I never need a professional skirt.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • bella replied 6 years ago

    To be perfectly honest, I like this outfit with the jeans best. I would personally never wear jeans to an interview in my field (political science, academic) but I think you are in the best position to make that judgement call in your own field. The second best look is the black trousers in m opinion. 
    I like your day 2 outfit as well. 

  • mtnsofthemoon replied 6 years ago

    To my eye I immediately am drawn to outfit #1 (esp photos 1 and 2).  You look great, professional and stylish!  I am of the philosophy that a suit makes a statement in an interview and is important (even if it won't be your daily work wear).  I like the small split at the bottom of your pants and the angle of the jacket lapels.  The silk shell is beautiful and you love it and must feel great in it.  Shoes look perfect too!  The pointed toe shape and they look very comfy!  Day 2 outfit seems perfect also!  Best of luck to you.  

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    HANDS DOWN, I like #1 to #4 best for the interview. Killer Perfect. No contest. Gorgeous with the light patterned top. Less heavy. 

    You rock #11 too - but not for the interview. 

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Another question - if I wear the black slacks (#1) should I leave the shell untucked like in the jeans look (#9)?

  • replied 6 years ago

    Forget it!

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Tucked as you have shown it. No jeans to the interview. 

  • mtnsofthemoon replied 6 years ago

    Agree with Angie, Tucked!  You look amazing! 

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    OK, so as an outfit I like the jacket/shell best with the jeans.  But for the interview I'd probably go with #1.  In my department (pure basic science, med school, which sounds like what yours will be too?) this would definitely be on the more formal end of interview wear for women.  Most women who interview here wear trousers + blouse, no jacket, or trousers + shell + non-matched jacket.  I have never seen anyone (man or woman) in a full suit.  Just a thought.  I think your printed shell here helps keep it less business looking though, which is good in this context.  I might actually un-tuck it too.  I know you said you will keep the jacket on, but are you OK wearing this w/o the jacket if it turns out to be super warm in the building or something?  Or if you decide you want to look a little more casual? 

    ETA: I've also never seen anyone give their talk in jeans, so I'd definitely go for trousers.  Also never seen a skirt, but that's probably weather related.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Diana, so glad you chimed in - you're in the most similar setting I think. My boyfriend wore a full suit for all his interviews (Harvard, Stanford, etc*) as did a woman I know, so it does happen! But I don't want to stand out in the direction of being too formal. So this is my worry, that I'll look too formal (that was part of the thinking behind the jeans option, but I understand why people say no on that).

    If I had time, I'd go look for a pair of skinny charcoal pants, ponte or something. I guess I could switch it up in some other way but I'm not sure what.

    (*alas, no I do not have interviews at all the places he did! Waaaaah.)

  • Sal replied 6 years ago

    I like 1, tucked.  The patterned shirt and skin at the ankle make it less stark.  The jeans are great too, but I would go for 1.  The grey trousers don't work with the top and jacket.

    I think 1 meets your goals 1-3 perfectly.

    I also like your second outfit with the jeans and shirt.  Perfect as well.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 6 years ago

    Your black jacket and trousers look fab, especially with the print shell. Just right! The gray trousers are gorgeous with the shell, too, but I prefer the black ones with the jacket. The skirts are great finds as well, and as you say, you might not wear them professionally, but you look great in them, so I know you can find opportunities to wear them--parties, dinners, cultural outings. Good luck!!

  • amiable replied 6 years ago

    Good choices - I love #1-4, it's very you, and very professional looking.  

  • Joyce B replied 6 years ago

    Your interview outfits look great, just don't forget that it's going to cool down on Thursday and they are predicting 60% chance of snow. Don't forget to take some grippy boots and a good coat.
    Good luck at the interview!

  • Dottie replied 6 years ago

    Good luck!  You are going to do fantastic!  We're all rooting for you.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Joyce, thanks for the heads up! I've been looking at the temps but I didn't notice the snow forecast. I have much warmer clothing for Thursday and Friday but maybe I should change my Thursday footwear to my snow-appropriate booties instead of these nice leather-sole ones.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    And yes, I do feel comfortable wearing the shell without the jacket, and it'll be so warm on Wednesday that it seems plausible. I like how the shell fits my shoulders, and I don't mind having bare arms. And it has those little snaps to hold my bra strap in, so it'll look more professional than usual! I wish the pants fit a little better, but so it goes.

    (Funny thing -- I got it at a consignment store and it had obviously been dry-cleaned. I'm glad it was clean, but the faint chemical smell bothered me. So I took a chance a few days ago and washed it on delicate. Not only does it smell better now, but it shrank quite a bit, so it fits much better than originally! Dodged a disaster there -- good thing it was too big to begin with.)

  • JAileen replied 6 years ago

    I think you look good in all of the outfits, but I have zero experience in your field. I'm glad that you were given some good advice from knowledgeable people here. Good luck!

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    I like the first look.  Very sharp.  I always wear a suit to a job interview and that is the only time you will ever see me in a suit.  I did wear a blazer (often) with dress pants.  But I am not a biologist or a researcher.  My friend the researcher wears jeans every single day.

  • Laurel replied 6 years ago

    I don't suppose you need any more of the "same" opinion, but #1 is absolutely the best look for your situation, I have no qualms about endorsing it.  From my perspective (FWIW),although you mention that the #1 pants are too large and the gray pants "fit", from the photos, the #1 pants "appear" to fit better than the gray ones.

    the all black outfit with boots is perfecto-- for the more casual meet and greets.  Keep that black shirt looking as sharp/wrinkle and stress free as it does in the photo for bonus points!!!

    nay on the first skirt, you don't look as comfortable/natural in it--but yes, yes, yes to the wool skirt!  I can see why you love it.

  • Elle replied 6 years ago

    I agree that #1-4 is best for the initial interview.  The style quotient of the jacket & pants is high and the blouse and bit of skin at the ankle softens the look.  I'm of the opinion that it's best to be a bit more formal than needed in an interview - no jeans even though you might wear them every single day on the job. I also like your meet and greet outfit.  

    Good luck and let us know what happens. 

  • UmmLila replied 6 years ago

    I agree with everyone else on the 1-4. What are you doing for bag and coat?

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    Agreeing with 1 - 4. Personally I love 11 - 12 on you too.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Well, it's settled, then! 1-4 it is. Thanks so much for all the feedback. It helps settle my nerves.

    Coats and bags:
    I'll have my laptop briefcase. Not really a bag person. I wish I had a nicer bag for my laptop (a friend uses the Everlane Petra tote for hers and it's beautiful) but this will do just fine.

    I'm bringing a heavy Madewell wool coat. Even though the first day will be quite warm, it'll be good to have it after dinner. I just got the address of my hotel and the interview location.

    Also, I just learned that dinner is Korean, with the little low tables, so I'm really glad I ruled out the trousers that were too small to zip all the way! (I didn't include photos of those; they look great but the zipper thing is a dealbreaker. I can leave the zipper open at the top for most purposes, but crawling in and out of the seat would be risky!)

  • Jaime replied 6 years ago

    You're outfits seem settle so all that's left is to offer you good luck! You will make a fabulous impression!

  • Penny replied 6 years ago

    Looks like you have a great outfit - love the skirt for other occasions, too!

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Since it's New York and a med school faculty position, I'm gonna go with 1 too (!)

  • replied 6 years ago

    Good luck. Sounds like you're in good shape.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Thanks to this situation I just tracked down a second-hand duplicate of my favorite super skinny wool pants, the J Crew Minnie pants, the nice Collection version made from Italian wool. The ones I have were bought back in my size 00 days... not a chance in heck I'll fit again. I finally found a bigger size from an online seller. They were the most amazingly versatile pants and they'd have been perfect with this outfit, so if they fit, I'll have them on hand for next time I wear this blazer. Certainly not by tomorrow though!

    'Course I have no idea what size I am these days, but they were $32 and returnable.

    I wish I'd done all of this a week ago!

  • j.ok replied 6 years ago

    First option! For sure

  • gradfashionista replied 6 years ago

    My fav is the first.

    By the way, I wouldn't worried about it looking too formal. Even though men in STEM might dress casually, as a woman you're still better off slightly dressing more professionally for reasons of authority, at least in the interview process.

    Also, congrats! Wishing you the best for the talk.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    You're set, but I just wanted to chime in to say you made the right decision, the outfits are fantastic (love #11 for the other day) and you are going to rock this interview! Good luck! 

  • Mary Beth (formerly LBD) replied 6 years ago

    I agree with Angie!   #1 for the win!

    I get the whole casualization and wearing jeans, but I also feel like Casual Fridays and jeans are for when you've already landed the job.   Right now, I feel like it's about showing up in an outfit that says "I take all of this very seriously and I'm ready to get to work".  

    Knock 'em dead at the interview!  

  • DonnaF replied 6 years ago

    If you suddenly feel the suit jacket is a bit overdressed, can't you just scrunch your sleeves?

  • Cee replied 6 years ago

    Never, EVER wear jeans to an interview ! You may as well wear a beer stained AC/DC T-shirt and ugg-boots with it !

    Go with dark slacks or a skirt with a blouse/thin sweater and suit jacket instead.

    ...and good luck with the interview :)

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    I survived day one and only heard one catty comment from a faculty member about wearing fancy shoes. (And this, if you were wondering, is why I was so concerned about looking too dressed up. Science people really do judge you on it. But overall I felt comfortable with my choices.)

    Day two looks like it'll be a blizzard, so I'm glad I have practical boots instead of my nicer leather-soled boots for tomorrow.

  • sarah replied 6 years ago

    Late here, since I think you are interviewing today, but I'm in academia, and you made exactly the right choice with #1. Good luck, and good luck solving the two-body problem, as well. I did, but it took awhile . Hope things are easier for you.

  • Joyce B replied 6 years ago

    It's good that you are prepared for the snow storm. Good luck with your interview tomorrow.

  • Jenava replied 6 years ago

    Wishing you the best! you certainly will look fab!

  • jenanded replied 6 years ago

    I hope its all going well! I thought 1 to 4 were great. Academia is so tricky.

  • Bijou replied 6 years ago

    You definitely have a great selection of clothes - best of luck with these interviews. I love your innate sense of style, you do look professional and serious, but with a definite edge to your look.

  • Aubergine replied 6 years ago

    Your interview outfits for both days look great! Appropriate, but with personality. Best of luck!

  • RobinF replied 6 years ago

    Great choices - good luck!

  • Vix replied 6 years ago

    Just read your follow up -- hope you and your "fancy" shoes have a new professional home soon!

  • Rambling Ann replied 6 years ago

    Greyscale's mention about getting a catty comment is so true. I think because they are slobs at heart and don't want anyone to set the bar too high. I used to campaign for the slogan "Bring back the academic robe" so they could wear whatever they wanted to under it. Summer when the male profs wore shorts I especially wished for a dozen gowns to issue out. The funny thing is, they never once noticed what the staff wore; some days I swore I could go in naked and they'd say "change your hair?" and walk on by.

    Safe travels, Greyscale, and congrats for showing up and doing the hard stuff.

  • replied 6 years ago

    Option 1. In your previous thread someone with experience recommended dressing a little more formally than the already employed in the department and I just don't see how that can go wrong as long it's appropriate to the job. You look respectful, professional, attractive and approachable. It's perfect.

    Whoops! Seeing the date! How did that go with the crazy snow?

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