The academic interview grand tour begins: help me pack! (update)

(Update: Hello from Seattle! A new option at the end of the comments - a star-print Equipment shirt I got at a consignment store recently. What do you think?)

I am super excited to say that I have a month of really great faculty job interviews coming up. I might let myself feel a little bit optimistic about my career. It's been a slog and I really hope one of these works out.

More on my overall outfit planning later - six multi-day interviews is a lot of clothes - but for now: I leave first thing in the morning for Baltimore and I can't decide what to wear.

For my first interview, in Baltimore this week with sub-zero daytime temps, I've narrowed it down to a few options. This is just a one-day interview, so I only need one outfit. There will be some snow on the ground, so I have to wear boots.

The bottoms options are new Everlane mid-rise slacks (more formal, and a nice heavy wool) or old J Crew Collection wool pants that are really warm, flattering, and high-quality. They're essentially very fancy leggings, so I would only wear them with a longer shirt. The dark horse is my old suit, but the pants are less warm and, um, they don't quite zip closed anymore.

To give a sense of the pants in better light, here are the new Everlane slacks (1,2) and the J Crew pants worn with an Everlane striped silk shirt (3,4). These combinations are not interview outfits on their own but I wanted to include a few clearer, well-lit photos.

Interview options
5,6: Everlane slacks, striped shirt, Helmut Lang cropped blazer
7,8: same, but with J Crew skinny pants (and with the boots I'll wear)
9,10: Everlane slacks, black silk shirt, cropped blazer
11,12: same, but with J Crew skinny pants
13,14,15: old Club Monaco suit with grey silk sweater, and the sweater on its own (it looks much more blah than I expected)

My boyfriend and I both actually prefer the outfit in 11 & 12. It surprised me. It looks sleek and stylish and flattering. Unfortunately it doesn't come through well in photos. But it is very me.

1. Should I keep the new Everlane slacks? I own a few others, and I don't wear slacks often. But the higher waist of these is much more current. They pull a tiny bit across the hips but overall I think they look good. They probably need to be hemmed a bit.
2. What about the striped silk shirt, either for interviews or just in general, perhaps with jeans? I loved it in the store but maybe less so in photos. 
3. And the grey Banana Republic sweater? Too blah? Tags are still on all three of these.
4. And of course, which combination should I choose for the first interview?

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.


  • Emily K replied 2 months ago

    I prefer the fit of the J. Crew skinny pants to that of the Everlane trousers.  They seem a little bit more "you" as well. I also like what you wrote about the J. Crew pants being warm.  You did scare me a little when you called the J. Crew pants "fancy leggings"--only you will know for sure if they are interview appropriate for your field.  I'm not loving the suit based on what you wrote--the fit not quite right and not so warm!  I like the Everlane striped silk shirt.   

    ETA:  YEA for interviews!  I wish you the best!

  • Kathie replied 2 months ago

    As long as you think the JC trousers are appropriate for your interviews, I wouldn’t worry about keeping the Everlane ones. If however, you’re likely to need them for later interviews, then I would keep them. I like the fit in these pictures. I can’t see much difference between 9/10 and 11/12, so go with the one you like. The striped shirt is great- might be good to hang on to it, if you’ll have any interviews over two days. Agree about the suit, and the gray sweater. The gray sweater doesn’t seem to be “you,” but rather an abstract idea of a generally appropriate interview top.

  • Greyscale replied 2 months ago

    "Abstract idea of a generally appropriate interview top" - what an apt way of putting it! I was so proud of myself for thinking of getting a lightweight sweater (I tend towards overly-formal buttoned shirts) but in the photos it's just not quite right.

    And I'm going to have enough interviews that 2 warm pairs of pants is a good idea, so I'll keep them but probably not wear them this week. Both are in my suitcase just in case.

  • Katerina replied 2 months ago

    Hi Greyscale! Both the trousers are very good, I have a slight preference for the J Crew pair. I echo what has been said about being appropriate for interviews in your field. I like the striped shirt very much - if you have occasions to wear it, keep it. The grey sweater is nice and definitely appropriate, but in the pics it comes across a bit bland. If you keep it for later, maybe some accessories?
    As Kathie sais, I cannot see much difference in the pics between 9/10 and 11/12 either. Choose whichever you like. I think it is also very important for the interview that you feel good about what you are wearing - it gives a boost in confidence. You look lovely and I wish you the best of luck!

  • CocoLion replied 2 months ago

    I like the Everlane pants, they look tailored and I like the high waist.  Length looks ok to me, unless you want a more cropped look.  I'm also a big yes on the striped silk top.  As for the first round of options with the striped shirt, whether it's the Everlane or the J Crew pants, is up to you.  Both look great.  Which are more comfortable?

    As for the second interview outfit concept with a black shirt, I recommend the skinnier J Crew pants.  (11 and 12) The slimmer silhouette creates more contrast with the toppers and therefore there's more visual interest.  At least from the photos.

    I like the color of the grey sweater, I think the top is fine.  It's nothing too interesting but really it's more of a layering piece so you don't need to expect too much from it.

    Yeah I agree with 11 and 12 being the best interview option.

    Good luck!

  • Style Fan replied 2 months ago

    I like the outfit in pics #11 and 12.  The all-black look is very sleek and you.  The J Crew pants are a bit more flattering than the Everlane ones.  I agree with Denise that the gray sweater is a layering piece and nothing more.  It looks better under a jacket than on its own.
    I am not a fan of the striped shirt for an interviewing outfit but I am clearly outnumbered here.  It is very distracting to me.

    Good luck!

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 months ago

    Hi Greyscale HNY! Good luck for all interviews. I love the new Everlane pants, to me they look really smart and not too long. My fave interview outfit is 5/6, I like the striped shirt and the whole combo. I'm not a fan of the gray top.
    Remember I did joke once that our styles were opposite though, so if I like something of yours it could mean you shouldn't wear it?! All the same if you wore 5/6 I'd be wanting to employ you in a heartbeat :)

  • rachylou replied 2 months ago

    I really like the Everlane pants. I like 11/12 too. But also, I really like interviewing in black and white clothes... so Pic 1 has a lot of appeal to me as an interview outfit, although I realise that’s not the ticket for sub zero weather...

  • bella replied 2 months ago

    Hey, I just dropped in to wish you good luck with your interviews! 11&12 look great to me. 

  • kkards replied 2 months ago

    best of luck on the interviews....
    (for what it's worth, i love the striped shirt ---and given the weather, i'd go with #7.....and bring a scarf that can double as a shawl incase you are in some old drafty room)

  • Meredith replied 2 months ago

    I agree with Kkards. I’m so thrilled for you and your upcoming interviews. Wishing you all the best!

  • unfrumped replied 2 months ago

    I love the Everlane pants, but I’m a huge fan of “ straight “ pants. The striped shirt is a great item but I agree with Style Fan that it’s a lot of pattern and lines for an interview. A tone on tone look would be great, not have to be all black.

  • lyn67 replied 2 months ago

    OMG, it surely depends on so many factors, but my faves of all here is exactly the striped shirt! I find  nr 7-8  the most creative and perfect to my eyes, of all. 

  • Toban replied 2 months ago

    I’ve been on several academic search committees. I tend to prefer a jacket-like look on candidates, male or female, in keeping with the seriousness of the meetings. You’ve got many excellent options here. I LOVE 11/12 on you, as well as 7/8 (striped top with jacket). Both show both your personality and your professionalism. The untucked striped top without jacket is too casual for the interview. The BR sweater is also too casual but could be a good travel day top. Best wishes on your search!

  • shevia replied 2 months ago

    Hard to make really informed judgments of black outfits on screen but I do like 11/12 and if you and your boyfriend both like it I would wear this for your most important days. After looking appropriate the next most important thing is to be comfortable and unaware of your clothing. Good luck - sounds like an exciting and exhausting time.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 months ago

    Agree with everyone else that 11/12 is very sleek. I like the striped shirt and the new Everlane pants. Keep! The striped shirt paired with the HL blazer is super fun and eye-catching. I would return the BR sweater. I just wrote, on Rachylou's mix-n-match thread, about how I've made the mistake of buying tops like this because they seem versatile in the abstract, but on me they just look boring. Also, I find heather grey almost impossible to wear because even in fine fabrications it ends up reading "sweatshirt" to me. :)

  • Christina F. replied 2 months ago

    I opted out of this whole process--took my PhD and ran off to the nonprofit sphere. But I have immense admiration for anyone who sticks with it, as I know how much work’s involved in getting to this stage. I mostly agree with the conclusions above. :) Good luck!

  • La Belle Demimondaine replied 2 months ago

    I really love the Everlane pants for you.  I say keep, keep the tags on, and then wait and see if you need them for the interviews, and then decide if you want to return them.   I think the hem looks fine, I like that bit of slouchiness, it looks somehow original to me.

    Or, if you decide last-minute and don't have time to hem, you can pop into a beauty supply store and get wig/toupee tape strips to do a temporary hemming job.

    I love all of your looks, except for that last with the sweater.  I agree with the others, the sweater reads a bit 'meh' to me.   The other outfits have understated power and impact, the sweater does not, not for an interview. 

  • Diana replied 2 months ago

    Good luck with the interviews! You are doing much better than me in that regard.

    I like both of the interview outfits (5/6 and 11/12) and would keep both the slacks and the striped shirt. I'd go with slacks for 5/6 and skinny trousers for 11/12, unless you want a more formal/classic look in which case I'd wear the slacks with the black outfit. (That formal version I would personally wear to something like an interview at a medical/hospital setting vs straight up academic. You know how those clinical types are.)

    I agree that the grey sweater looks kind of meh. Agree also with LP that heather grey is just hard because of the sweatshirt connotation. I also think the sleeves look too wide and loose, which is kind of sweatshirty too (and would annoy me under jackets; honestly I think that for under jackets, sleeveless is the way to go. In our field I don't think there's any proscription against showing arms anyway if you choose to remove he jacket.)

  • Lynn replied 2 months ago

    Just wanted to say congratulations on getting all the interviews and best wishes in the interviewing process. I have no idea on the appropriateness of the outfits for interviewing in your field so will not comment on that. 

    I really like the stripe shirt and agree that the Everlane pants look great on you. Personally I am not a fan of the grey sweater. Maybe a sweater in another neutral or color or add a necklace for a focal point?. The grey alone just seems bland to me.

  • Diana replied 2 months ago

    PS- I hope the huge nor’easter that’s supposed to hit the east coast tomorrow does not affect your interviews! We are supposed to get a foot of snow in the Boston area. Not sure how bad it’ll be in Baltimore. Safe travels!

  • Angie replied 2 months ago

    How exciting. GOOD LUCK. 

    I love the Everlane trousers on you, Greyscale. I vote keep.

    Love the striped blouse too. Keep. 

    Return the blah BR pullover.

    Either #5 and #11 for the interview. Or a jacket over #1. 

  • Liz A. replied 2 months ago

    Baltimore isn't supposed to get much snow if any, but it will be COLD!  I love the look of the J. Crew pants and prefer the visual interest of look 7/8.

  • Elle replied 2 months ago

    Another vote for 11/12 for the interview.  It looks very professional and very you at the same time. 

    Love the fit of the Everlane pants - they should come in handy through all the interviews.  I would also keep the striped shirt but probably not for interviews.  It seems too informal for a first interview ( although only you can judge the appropriateness for these schools).  On my monitor, the gray sweater doesn't seem to flatter your coloring, but may look great in real life.

    Good luck!  And let us know how things go

  • karen13 replied 2 months ago

    Congrats and good luck. Late to comment, but I love the striped shirt. I like both pairs of pants and the longer length on the Everlanes looks good. I am old school and corporate, so my interview advice isn’t that helpful. I like a jacket for an interview.

  • FashIntern replied 2 months ago

    By now you're probably en route to the interview, so I'll just wish you luck. I hope what you've chosen feels so "right" to you that you can forget it and focus on flashing those academic brights that got you here.

    Your comment on the pants that don't zip took me back to a job interview when I was 4 months pregnant. A dear friend who's a decade or two older than me took the choice of interview outfit on like a costuming challenge. She certainly succeeded, because when I showed up for the job 3 months later, my new boss was stunned to see the no-longer-concealable belly.

    Good luck on your interview!

  • Elizabeth P replied 2 months ago

    Too late for wardrobe suggestions, but I did want to congratulate you on your upcoming interviews, and wish you good luck on them! 

  • Greyscale replied 2 months ago

    Thanks so much, all!

    FashIntern, so funny that you managed to hide the bump! Though I know many places are very family friendly it's hard to know how it'll land with the hiring committee.

    Rachy and others, I do like the white shirt and might wear it later in the month, but for this cold snap I wanted long sleeves.

    I packed both shirts and both pants, since my suitcase is quite empty other than that. I'm leaning towards 10-11 for this interview but you've convinced me to keep the new Everlane items. Good thing, since I was starting to feel bad returning so much there!

    It's only going to snow a few inches tonight, after I land. I'm still planning to wear the boots in these photos - flat ankle boots - but they have leather soles and no room for warm socks. If conditions are bad Thursday morning I'll just wear the Dr Martens I'm wearing on the plane, I suppose. But unlike my NY interview last year, where I cheerfully walked half a mile in a foot of snow to get to campus, I think this one will mostly be indoors and taxis.

  • Dianna replied 2 months ago

    Good luck with the interview. You will be ok with any of the two outfits you packed. Yay for you keeping the everlane pants and striped shirt.

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Good luck on these interviews! I love the chosen outfits -- you look sleek, smart, and exactly "you." So excited that these opportunities await and I wish you all the best! Please let us know how it all goes. 

  • bj1111 replied 2 months ago

    how did it go?

    and if your interviews take you to the midwest, pm me.

  • elpgal replied 2 months ago

    No fashion advice, just wishing you good luck!

  • Greyscale replied 2 months ago

    Thanks, everyone! I ended up wearing the skinny pants, black silk shirt, and cropped blazer. I thought it was great. I felt professional but cool and I think the more casual pants made the overall effect better for the setting.

    The interview went well! The cold snap wasn't as extreme in Baltimore as elsewhere, and I spent the full day inside one building, so I only had to walk a short bit on my way from dinner to the hotel. Honestly I would have enjoyed more time outside. But for those few blocks I was glad I had the warmer pants (and had stashed my hat and scarf in my Everlane tote - so glad I bought this bag this fall, in hopes that I'd get enough interviews to justify it).

    I do need to find a better dry cleaner though. I took my shirt to a new-to-me place and the cuffs came back with pills - I didn't know silk could even pill like that. And looking at the yelp reviews, I'm not the only one with that experience. I'm scared to go home and look closely at the other things I had cleaned there (two other favorite silk shirts). Really I should buy a new black silk shirt that's sturdy enough to hand wash. This Uniqlo one, I have two copies and wash one of them, and it definitely shrank and faded despite careful handling. 

  • Greyscale replied 2 months ago

    Hello from Seattle! Here's an option for interview #2. Haven't had time to get the black shirt cleaned. I think this is less overwhelming than the striped shirt? Plus stars are sort of my lucky motif.

    I steamed the black shirt and could wear it again if needed. But it definitely got some sweat in my last interview.

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 months ago

    Hi Greyscale that looks awesome! I love stars and it looks very smart x

  • Dianna replied 2 months ago

    Greyscale, that is a great interview outfit and you know it, just look at your smile.  You look professional and confident.  Good luck with the interview!

  • Sal replied 2 months ago

    Very late to the party but good luck with your interviews.  I like your new pants and shirt and the last outfit looks great too.

  • Toban replied 2 months ago

    Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear about the dry cleaner issues. How frustrating!

    The outfit for interview #2 is excellent. Love the top.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 months ago

    Love the outfit with the star shirt! That's really super. I'm nervous about dry cleaners for all the reasons you describe. 

  • Style Fan replied 2 months ago

    How unfortunate about the dry cleaners!  I have had bad experiences with dry cleaners.  I like your new shirt.  Looks great with your outfit.  I hope your interview goes well.

  • Greyscale replied 2 months ago

    Stars it is, then! This is a two-day interview and I couldn't decide what to wear so I fit two blazers, three pairs of pants, and four silk shirts into my little carry on. 

  • Kathie replied 2 months ago

    Good luck with your interview! UW is a great place!

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