Thursday, August 27, 2009

Interview Attire For Hollywood & Other Non-Traditional Jobs

For my entire career I've been dressing up the same way for a job interview in Hollywood. I wear what I call the "publicist's outfit." What is the publicist outfit? An all black suit, black purse, black portfolio, black pointy-toe heels, flats or boots, and a non-black collared shirt with at least the first button undone so it creates a V-neck shape for my necklace to show through.

I chose this outfit for several reasons.

1) Wearing all black has a commanding presence & makes me feel more "in charge."

2) One solid color from head to toe makes you look taller.

3) Pointy shoes make you look taller.

4) Everyone's publicist on the red carpet was dressed this way at any event I worked at.

5) Black never goes out of style.

When I was interviewing to work for a Chairman/CEO as his office Executive Hostess where I greeted clients, served beverages, and was in charge of catering for office functions, I was told what to wear by the girl I was replacing. She wanted me to get the job and she got the same advice from the person before her. That outfit was black slacks and a matching sweater/cardigan set. Why that outfit? It's the same outfit my supervisor, the senior assistant would wear.

Once, my agent/recruiter suggested I wear an all red suit to a job interview. I thought that was too bold and didn't take her advice. Not to mention, I didn't have that outfit. I even consulted my mentor about this and she agreed it was too much to wear red from head to toe.

My dad brought up an interesting point about attire. He counsels all his trainees to always wear a suit, even if the job is for a car mechanic. The logic is if a car mechanic dresses impeccably, the idea planted is "when I work on your car, I'll be extra clean, detailed, and won't leave oil marks on the seats. I'll leave your car pristine."

I once had an interview and was at a loss of what to wear because for the first time the weather was 95 degrees outside in the dead of summer, and I live near the beach! This means that my publicist outfit wouldn't work even if I wore a summer suit because I'd still be wearing an all black thinner long sleeve suit jacket, a shirt underneath, and capri pants. I'd have to factor in I'd be even hotter from "running" around that I'd be profusely sweating if I wore that much clothes. Keep in mind, its also about 10-15 degrees hotter in the Valley where other entertainment companies are.

I've also had interviews at clothing stores. And I know that dressing "creatively" with a "unique" style is encouraged for different industries. The publicist uniform was out. I had to find something that was fashionable, yet appropriate office attire. I settled on a black designer dress that was calf length with cap sleeves and very low red pointy heels. I also decided to pull all my hair back, except I didn't put it into a bun. I figured this would give me a more polished corporate look to balance out the red shoes and dress. I wore jewelry - Tiffany necklace, Tiffany ring, diamond cocktail ring, and an orange rubber bracelet (a la Lance Armstrong Live Strong) except mine was for a different cause. The only pieces that weren't part of my daily attire were the Tiffany ring and the diamond cocktail ring.

Now that I've blogged about this, I wonder how do people dress for interviews in different parts of the world and for traditional or non-traditional jobs? And how different is your outfit when it's pouring rain (Seattle), snowing (New York winter), and in the desert (Vegas)?


  1. I know this post is 4 years old and may be a tad out of date - but you wear an actual suit? Really? I always felt like they thought I was too corporate in a suit. By "they" I mean Fox, I interviewed with them 3 times last year. Unfortunately, it was a no-go. I'm a Disney lay-off and all my suit got me was a job outside of entertainment. I need to go back to entertainment or I am literally going to die. I ended up getting black and white checked pants. I wanted a hot pink Mad Men sheath to wear under my black blazer but I haven't been able to find one I can afford. I may try the black twinset idea, too. These days jobs have 2 or 3 interviews per and I don't want to wear the same outfit to all of them.

    Do you have any tips for the actual interview?

    1. The Muser at Musings of High Level Executive AssistantJune 25, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      Hi Mary,

      If I am interviewing for CEO EA job or someone who is a business executive, then yes, I do wear a suit. Here are some other blog posts (see white box at the link) on my views on attire as well that are a little more recent.

      For interview tips, read this blog, but feel free to ask a more specific question/more too.

      Also check out my old blogs on this site and my other advice column too.

    2. Hi Mary
      Did you get the job? If not, I just contacted you. I happen to work at that particular company. Btw, for my interview I wore a 'suit' that included a fitted black jacket, black pants and a very colorful print top. Professional yet fun too :)