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What to Wear to a College Interview

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What Do I Wear There? College Interviews
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Along with pretty foliage, pumpkin spice lattes and costume-shopping, October is also the time for something much more stressful: college applications and interviews.

Unlike internship or grad school interviews, initial college interviews don’t require you to dress business formal and carry a briefcase. Admissions counselors are simply trying to get a sense of who you are and why you’re a good fit for their school. Hopefully when you’re applying to a college, you already know why you want to attend that school in particular – and that’s what Admissions wants to hear! However, as fashion-savvy students, we all know that looking the part is just as important as talking the talk.

To help you succeed in the all-important college interview, here are three college interview outfits that will have you feeling pretty, confident, and comfortable on the big day:

The Girly Girl

Although I’m not one of them, I know many girls who are always in pearls, a dress or some shade of pink. If you love to embrace your girly side – don’t let anyone scare you into a boring black suit for an admissions interview!

Before stepping into your favorite feminine look, make sure you take into account who you’ll be interviewing with and what program you’re applying to. It’s important to dress for your personality – but also in a way that will earn the respect of the 85-year-old Dean of Admissions.

Nude colors and pearls are always go-to staples for impressing anyone during a meet-and-greet – and a modest dress is the perfect mix of femininity and class. Just a small punch of pink is all you need to let your girly side shine through – just don’t go overboard (unless you’re auditioning for a role in Legally Blonde).

The Girly Girl

Product Information: Dress – ASOS, Cardigan – Old Navy, Necklace – Newport News, Heels – Forever 21, Bag – Forever 21, Watch – Endless

The Artist

This being a fashion community and all, many of you are probably dreaming of becoming the next great artist, fashion designer or fashion photographer. Like I said above, it’s important to dress to impress but also to show off your personality. If you’re applying to fashion schools, you have a lot more room for creativity than those girls dressing for interviews at Harvard. But even if you’re the most creative spirit – be careful not to go overboard when choosing an outfit.

The best way to show of your personality (whether you’re a painter or a fashion designer) is with fun jewelry. Invest in some subdued pieces like dark skinnies and a gray blazer and then get creative with accessories! Another way to show of that creative side is an unexpected nail polish color. Other than that, just let your personality (and portfolio) shine!

The Artist

Product Information: Blazer – Charlotte Russe, Necklaces – Forever 21, Ring – Forever 21, Pants – Forever 21, Flats – Charlotte Russe, Bag – Kohls

The Classic Sophisticate

The majority of you will probably want to opt for a put-together, classic outfit like the one below. I have a hard time believing that anyone under the age of 30 is comfortable in a head-to-toe suit (and I’ve worn my fair share of suits), so stick to a tailored look that actually fits your age!

Keep comfort in mind when choosing your clothes and try on your look before the day of the interview. Is your skirt too short when you sit down? Will your heels kill your feet by the time you get across campus? Deal with those issues ahead of time.

This look is great because an embellished cardigan and a pretty pair of flats are young while still being practical. Everyone knows how well you can rock the animal print trend, but I promise it won’t kill you to keep that skill on the DL for a few hours while you interview.

The Classic Sophisticate

Product Information: Cardigan – Old Navy, Bag – Kohls, Skirt – Old Navy, Headband – Forever 21, Bracelet – NY and Company, Flats – Wet Seal, Earrings – White House, Black Market

Making It Your Own

I know three looks won’t be anywhere close to fitting all of your styles – but hopefully they’ve given you some inspiration for your interview looks. The most important takeaway is to make sure you feel comfortable and confident in whatever outfit you choose to wear. I have a habit of playing with hair elastics on my wrists or with my earrings in interviews; identify any nervous habits that you might have before you get into your interview.

Remember, you’re all fabulous, creative and have something to offer any school – so be confident! Do your homework, reach out to alumni or current students that you may know (any CF writer could provide insight into their schools) for any information you can get and good luck!

Tell us your thoughts!

Will you have to interview this Fall? What schools are you applying to? If you’re already in school, do you have any tips for high school seniors? We want to hear from you guys so be sure to leave a comment!

Posted on on October 25, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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17 Responses to “What to Wear to a College Interview”

  1. 1
    October 25th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I think the last one is the most appropriate, regardless of what you’re applying for. The first one is too Elle, too little business, & artsy or not, I wouldn’t ever recommend wearing jeans to an interview. I like the last one, but a blazer would be even better!

  2. 2
    October 25th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Neither my early decision school nor my second choice school offer interviews, but my third choice school does. I’m definitely opting for an outfit that resembles Outfit #1 because it represents my style while still remaining conservative enough to work in an interview atmosphere.

    Thanks for writing this!

  3. 3
    October 25th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I really like the flats in the third outfit, but I can’t find them at the Wet Seal website. Where are they?

  4. 4
    October 25th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Having applied to many art programs last year (Hooray for being done with that!) I can say that a huge majority of the people I was interviewing with were not dressed that well. The standard uniform I saw was paint splattered jeans, dirty sneakers, unwashed hair, and ironic shirts. And I noticed this year some of those very people got in, so their fashion couldn’t have mattered to the admissions board.

    That being said, I think making your self clean and presentable really impresses admissions, regardless of what major you are applying for.

  5. 5
    October 25th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I love the second and third outfits. Nice post!

  6. 6
    October 25th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I think they are all great, I have to boomark this!
    The only thing is that I think jeans are too casual.

  7. 7
    October 25th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    first and second outfit, ‘ big’ like

  8. 8
    October 25th, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    would you recommend wearing outfits like these on college tours too?

  9. 9
    October 25th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    i love these outfits and even tho i won’t need them for a college interview i am hoping 2 land a internship so thanks for the inspiration! =)

  10. 10
    October 25th, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I love this post! It couldn’t have come at a better time; I’m interviewing with one of my top choices this Saturday. I’ll probably end up wearing something similar to outfit #3; it’s the most “me” outfit and I’ll feel most comfortable. Thanks for the ideas!

  11. 11
    October 25th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Caitlin, I wouldn’t wear heels on a college tour, and definitely check the weather beforehand. If it’s fall or spring, I’d wear a cardigan over a top that can stand alone as you go through the different buildings and outside weather. If it’s winter, be sure to wear something that’s easy to layer down when you get inside, otherwise you’ll get hot.

    College tours are a little more casual, in my experience. I think it’d be ok to wear nice jeans and a nicer top or cardigan set on a tour – you’re going to be doing a lot of walking and you definitely want to be comfortable, especially if you’re touring a big school. Don’t try too hard to dress like you’re in college – current students will know you’re not (it’s like our sixth sense), and you really want to be you and be comfortable.

    If the interview and tour are a bundle, then maybe nice jeans would work, depending on the formality of the interview. If not, slacks or a conservative (doesn’t mean unfashionable) skirt are always a good option.

  12. 12
    October 26th, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Love all 3 looks!

  13. 13
    October 26th, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Love the post!! Although I have to say that I wore jeans to my Harvard interview and still got in. (Granted, it was at a Starbucks…)

    On that note, it’s also important to take stock of where your interview is being held. If it’s an alumni interview at Starbucks or at someone’s home, it would be totally safe to whip out the “Artist” outfit, even if you’re not applying to an art program.

    While this post is about admissions interviews, I think it’s worth noting that most of the scholarship interviews I went to required more formal clothing a la Look 3. For those interviews, I generally wore a suit jacket, button up, pencil skirt, and heels, just cause I really felt more comfortable suiting up for the panel interviews.

    Keep weather in mind too. I’m a Southern California girl, and my med program interviews in Boston were almost a disaster because I overlooked the fact that snow, cobblestones, and heels do NOT mix. Fortunately, I had a pair of boots with me to change into later, so I wound up interviewing in business attire from the knees up and in snow boots from the knees down. My interviewer was really understanding and I wound up getting in, but trust me, there are enough reasons to be nervous at one of these interviews to start with. You don’t want your outfit to get you flustered.

    With that in mind, interviews are NOT the time to bring out a spankin’ new outfit: you don’t want to discover that your gorgeous new shirt is actually really itchy halfway through discussing your resume with a professor. Nor do you want to be overly trendy. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable, classy, and confident, but don’t let them take the spotlight, either. The interview is the moment for you to shine, not your clothes.

    I’ll end this lecture now…Good luck with college apps, guys!!!!

  14. 14
    October 26th, 2010 at 4:13 am

    For my Cambridge interview I wore a slightly more dressed-up mixture of outfit 1 and outfit 3 – I saw loads of people wearing suits, most were wearing black or grey, and while not everybody was in business suits, most were dressed conservatively.

    I wore a black pencil skirt, a black silk top with a teal cardigan on top (to avoid wearing a blazer or suit jacket) with grey wool tights and black leather lace-up shoe-boots. I was one of the only girls in heels, but I definitely don’t think it hurt my chances, and I felt much more confident and put together. If I had been wearing flats it would have felt too casual… or maybe I’m just too European to ‘dress down’ for an interview.
    The way I see it, you only get one shot so you want to be sure to feel put together and make an impression.

  15. 15
    October 26th, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Whoa, I was looking at this post and thinking, “That looks a lot like my school…strange” and then I see that it is Northeastern U!

    Awesome. :D

  16. 16
    October 26th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    As a successful past applicant to good programs in college, scholarships, and graduate school (yes, maybe I’m a bit older than most CF readers), I will share with you my standard interview uniform. I go for a longer skirt, a blazer, and boots. Remember, especially if you have to travel to interviews, you’ll be being put up somewhere, in a dorm or motel room, and you don’t want to take things that will wrinkle! A skirt is better than pants for that reason, and whatever blouse you choose to wear under your blazer should be knit fabric, not woven. Boots are not only more practical for walking around than dress shoes, but you can wear them on your trip with jeans and look fine. The blazer dresses the whole thing up, and again, you can wear it instead of packing it. (Also, maybe gross, but if you’re having to get up early after travelling for interviews, with boots and a long skirt you can get away without shaving. Make sure you pack pantyhose though! Two pairs in case they run.)

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