Blame it on the economy, the fact that today’s women are more independent or on boring daytime TV if you like, but more and more women over 50 are looking for jobs. Some are switching careers, some are getting back into the swing of working, some want to get out of the house. All of them need to know how to dress for the new job roles they’re hoping to play. Do you know what to wear to a job interview?
Dressing for Success
It’s never easy to look for a job, but it’s even harder once you get past a certain age. Chances are good that your interviewer and job competitors will be younger than you. They may look at you and think you’re old-fashioned, beyond your prime, and not at all “with it” enough to stay on top of the job. Your wardrobe will help disabuse them of these notions, and show them that you’re a modern woman who can handle anything.
Next Avenue says you should focus on creating a modern, current look. If you find yourself reaching for a blazer you wore in the 90s or a pair of shoes from the 80s when you get ready for your job interview, stop! Take a look around at other women, particularly those who work in professional settings. Take note of what they’re wearing, including their accessories, and get yourself some new pieces. When your look is updated, you’ll present yourself as someone who’s current and on-trend, and that’s important for women over 50 in any job environment.
It’s always best to dress conservatively for a job interview, and strike an appropriately professional look, advises You Look Fab. This means you should stick to muted colors, not bold and vibrant shades. Wear greys, browns, black, navy and deep purples. You can always add a pop of color to your outfit with your jewelry and accessories.
According to VN member ThurmanLady, black is the color of choice in the New York business scene. “In NYC it’s the black business suit,” she said of interview clothing
Sunblossom, another VN member, agrees. “Can’t go wrong with black and white,” she wrote.
Your job interview outfit should fit your body. You want a tailored outfit, because that will make you look neat and well put together. Clothes that are ill-fitting wrinkle easily and make you appear sloppy. Stick to conservative cuts while you’re dressing for the job. Keep skirts at knee length or just above, and make sure your blouse doesn’t reveal any décolletage.
The Pieces You Wear
Assemble strong pieces to create an interview outfit that will wow your potential employer. When each piece is good, the overall look will be perfect.
- Jacket: A matched suit can look dated, and it will look sloppy if each piece doesn’t fit you perfectly. Find a great jacket instead, and match it with contrasting and complementing pieces.
- Dress: If you’re going to wear a dress, avoid prints. They will make you look old-fashioned even if you get the trendiest, hottest new style. Prints, especially florals, are associated with little old ladies. A wrap dress or a simple shirtwaist will look great, and suits both business casual and formal environments. Floor-length dresses often look a little too formal, and are also likely to date you.
- Shirt: Wear your blouse tucked in if it’s long enough, or choose one that’s only waist- or hip-length to begin with. You want to look neat overall, and a swinging shirttail will work against that goal.
Once you know what you’re going to wear to your job interview, you’ve got to accessorize. The little additions you make will create a total, put-together look that potential employers will appreciate.
- Shoes: Select shoes that are no higher than 3 inches tall. If heels aren’t your thing, stick to simple ballerina flats or wedge heels. You don’t want to wear any peep-toe shoes, which may look unprofessional, but slingbacks are modern and classy. Don’t wear your “old lady” shoes; look for something fashionable, but conservative.
- Bag: You need a bag that will stand up on its own and something that closes. You don’t need to flash your personal items to your potential new boss. If you have resumes and other stuff with you, a tote bag might be the best choice.
- Pantyhose: Unless you’re interviewing at a very formal, very professional business, just leave the nylons at home. Most young women don’t wear them anymore for any reason. If your legs are too white for public viewing, apply some self-tanning lotion or spray tan the night before. Otherwise, just stick to pants.
- Jewelry: Choose simple metal or pearl jewelry, and nothing that dangles and jingles and makes noise. And whatever you do, don’t wear wire-rimmed glasses. They’re far too old-fashioned. Choose glasses frames that are colorful and made with acrylics; this is what all the modern women are wearing.
- Hair and makeup: If needed, cut your hair and wear it in a modern style. A fresh, smart layered cut will make you look current and capable. Grey hair is trendy, but not in the workplace. Update your look with hair dye to cover up the grey. Once you wow them with your job performance, you can reveal the real you if you like. Wear light make-up, and avoid really bright colors. Wear very light or clear nail polish only.
Building a Better Look
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get the right job interview outfit. Browse consignment shops to find pieces, or turn to Dress for Success for help. This non-profit dresses women who need jobs – and that’s you!
The most important part of any outfit, no matter where it’s being worn, is comfort. You want something that makes you feel good and fits well, so you’re not feeling stressed or tense during the interview. Find more ways to land the job in our free report Jobs for Women.