Interview-Worthy Dresses

Jessica Perason has one of my dream work wardrobes. Everything she wears is polished, crisp, and perfectly tailored. Her clothes are feminine yet incredibly powerful. Unfortunately she does not exist, at least not that I know of. Jessica Pearson is a character on the show Suits, played by Gina Torres and her character illustrates how the right dress can be as polished and formal as a traditional suit.

On the show Pearson is the managing partner of the law firm the show is based around. I know that this is a television show and does not always accurately portray the law firm life but a few things can be taken away from Person’s style. I have always thought that a great dress can be a substitute for a suit on many occasions, including job interviews. I know this is subject to debate but unless the firm or organization is ultra-conservative I think a dress can be an appropriate alternative.

When determining whether a dress is appropriate you should consider a few things. First, stick to neutral colors, just like you would a suit. Black, navy, camel, eggplant, burgundy and gray are all good bets because they are bold yet understated. Second, it needs to fit properly. A dress that is tight across any body part will look inappropriate no matter what (same for too big). Third, the silhouette should be more conservative than risqué. The hemline should be knee length and minimal cleavage (if any). If you’re asking yourself if it’s too much cleavage than it most likely is. Fourth, pay attention to the fabric. Stick with cotton, tweed, and wool, anything satin or shiny is more cocktail hour than courtroom. Below I’ve found a few dresses that I think are professional and powerful enough for a job interview.

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  • Gina Torres was better in Firefly. Just sayin’.

  • Stephanie Lee

    Agree! I have a few dresses that are year round staples. When it’s cold, I wear a sweater or jacket on top depending on how dressy I want to be, and it takes all of 2 minutes to get dressed in the morning. Love the Calvin Klein and Tahari picks – I’ve personally found those labels to have reasonably priced and conservatively cut stuff. Great post!

  • No sleeves on your picks!

  • Sweet_Veritas

    Your article is a breath of fresh air, especially after walking into court and not being able to tell which people were on trial and which people were the attorneys. I was beginning to think that having pride in the way one dresses was a thing of the past. One of the biggest concerns I have is that there are so many judge who just let people (attorney’s included) enter their courtroom wearing any get up they want, no matter how ridiculous it is.
    I was in court the other and saw a public defender wearing a head-to-toe Brittney Spears outfit, a la “Oops I did it again.” HAND TO GOD! She was even wearing pig tails. The judge just looked at her, rolled his eyes and started calling cases. I was waiting for him to ask her to change, wag his finger at her, or tell her that that there was a place where that outfit was appropriate, but a court room wasn’t that place.
    It’s refreshing to read articles like these. Thank you.

  • mores

    If a candidate wore any of those to an interview she would be lucky to not be thrown out immediately and blacklisted from any firms we associate with, let alone given consideration for a job. Non-suits cut substantially above the knee? Are you serious? I pray no women take your advice, because it could cost them a rare chance at a career.

  • Serena

    I’m always so envious of Jessica- but I’m a criminal lawyer, and in the courts I usually attend, suit jackets are mandatory- sure, leather blazers, and open ponte knit jackets are permitted, but a dress without a jacket is not allowed.

    Luckily, I live in a small town, and there’s no need to dress corporate. Black suit, black pumps, white shirt? No chance. Red jacket, purple camisole, black wide belted black skirt, red heels? Absolutely.