Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bussiness School Attire: When Panic Suits Me

Adding to the stress of my bschool application process was the dreaded interview. After giving out a little yelp of excitement that I’d made it past the first filter, I realized that I had nothing to wear. I like to appear pretty polished on a daily basis, and wear dresses with oxfords, cardigans, blouses, and so on, but I don’t own a business suit—and (fingers crossed) never really hope to.

I searched online to mixed results. Some sites said, yes, you must absolutely wear a business suit! Others said to just make sure you look professional, but don’t wear lots of jewelry or color. Wear black, navy, or grey. Make sure your clothes look clean and new. Business casual is a must. 

I was spiraling into a sweaty panic over what to wear, but I hadn’t just spent six months in GMAT and essay writing hell to show up to an interview looking out of place!

So I went shopping, tried on every single piece of business attire at Ann Taylor, J Crew, Banana Republic, Nordstrom, yada yada yada. I tried on suit sets in every color and style. I tried on cropped blazers, long blazers, blazers with three buttons, blazers with one button and everything in between.

At some point I realized that I am diametrically opposed to the woman that these clothes are designed for – both physically (my shape), and intellectually (my sense of self). None of them flattered my body. I tried on those slacks that hug your butt and then balloon out so your shoes are hidden, which basically just highlighted all of my "problem" areas.  More importantly, none of these looks made me feel confident. I felt like a poser in someone else’s skin—someone I didn’t even want to be!

So I called a friend, and she said “forget the suit sets, just get some cool black slacks, a printed blouse and an oversized dark blazer.” Oh. Duh.

She totally snapped me out of it, just like that. I ditched Ann Taylor, and it really was that easy once I realized who I was again. I don’t dress for utility and I don’t like following rules. I get dressed every day because I love fashion. So in the end, I found a way to look appropriate while maintaining my identity. I even wore a chunky necklace, NBD.


  1. did you buy slacks? im looking for some to look (slightly) more profesh at work.

    i tried these on but there were camel toe issues. . http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=57240&vid=1&pid=349597002

    1. Yeah, I went with these in black: http://www.zara.com/us/en/woman/trousers/large-check-trousers-c437617p1138538.html

      I didn't think they would be flattering at first, but the tapered leg and cropped ankle were actually really cute on me and there was no camel toe. Check em out and let me if these are a better fit for you.

  2. Hi Christine! I'm really glad you started this blog since I'll be starting recruiting and interviews next Fall and I always have trouble with defining what business wear is and how to incorporate my own style into it. Excited to read more about your fashion tips and ideas! Also, I go to Berkeley and if the top CA business school you are mentioning is Haas, I'll be excited to see you around the area! (:

    1. Hi Jacqueline, thanks so much for reading! I'm definitely learning as I go in terms of what's acceptable and I've got a couple posts planned to talk about this more (hopefully with photos!), so definitely check back in.

      I'm attending the UC Davis GSM so sadly we won't be classmates, but I'm definitely excited to build a community and network through this blog as well as in school. Keep in touch, I'd love to hear how your experiences are going as well!