Real life fashion: job interviews & impeccable dressing with CARVENJob interviews & impeccable dressing

My assistant, and dear friend Rosie with her amazing dress sense, is moving out of London. She has been with us for 3 years and god only knows how we are all going to cope without her. Apart from anything else, she is the only one, who really knows how to use powerpoint.

We are interviewing for her replacement and I have to say I am impressed with the calibre of the new applicants. On paper, at least they seem perfect. HR has done all possible ground work and we now have 4 or 5 really strong candidates. Appearance does matter, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – when I look at someone, appearance is all I have to go on. I cannot see their inner soul, but I can see if they have impeccable dress sense, clean shoes, well looked after hands and nails…

The job market is so fiercely competitive at the moment, every little detail matters.

How to dress impeccably for that job interview.

Research the company in advance, a lot does depend on the job you are going for. Find out what the employees are wearing on a daily basis, and then put together a smarter version of the general feel of the place. Not everyone needs to wear suits, in fact I don’t wear suits at work so is a bit much if my assistant does. (though my friend Thomas works for an accountancy firm – and they all without exception have to wear suits. Including the photocopy assistants.)

It is a good idea to test drive the outfit in advance to avoid potential wardrobe malfunctions. Being able to sit in that skirt, walk (rather that hobble )in the shoes and stretch the arms out in that jacket. Sweat stains never look good, and worth remembering that synthetic shirts can aggravate the problem. Failing to master the art of ironing ( or not knowing someone who has mastered it) will destroy the illusion of that impeccable, super capable persona.

Unless you are going for a job in the fashion industry, keep the outfit on the conservative side. That doesn’t mean dressing like a 1950’s librarian, but avoid any excessively avant-garde looks and fiddly details. One of our applicants impressed me, as she was wearing beautiful quality skirt with a simple sweater, (no accessories to clutter the look) – but she had healthy shiny hair and well looked after nails. She just looked like she could undertake anything at a moments notice, without worrying about spoiling her manicure.


Quality clothes and good fit, will win the day. I would buy the very best quality things I could afford for just one simple outfit (which afterwards one can wear on the job too, the designs above are from CARVEN beautiful quality clothes for casual & work) Keep it simple and clean. Expensive clothes can do wonders to improve our looks, but do be discreet, obvious logos/brand patterns sort of look desperate. One girl turned up with an enormous CHANEL bag, which kind of jarred me anyway. It was so loud and inappropriate. On closer inspection the bag was also a counterfeit copy (quelle horreur!) which totally confused me. What sort of person, one may wonder takes a CHANEL bag for a first/ second job interview? (and a fake one at that) What exactly is the message there?

Think quite carefully what sort of image you’d like to project, to fit the company culture. Smart, efficient, well educated – are what I am looking for. Sexy and fashionable, not necessarily good for an interview – unless going for that pole dancer position. My company has a fairly casual dress code – so I often wear jeans. I like to look a little more mature than I really am, so my work jeans are the dark wash boot cut, (teamed with a perfect jacket), rather than my more fashionable skinnies and of course nothing ripped, no studs, no tassels. If you are going to wear a jacket, make sure the fit is perfect! (though Angela Merkel is living proof one can have a successful career in badly fitting jackets.)


Accessories – should in my view be kept to a minimum. You want people to remember you, rather than your bag, your earrings or your elaborate make up. Choose discreet quality handbags without too much hardware.

Choose discreet, quality accessories, avoiding IT bags and obvious logos .

Choose discreet, quality accessories, avoiding IT bags and obvious logos .

Looking at the average fashion retailer, one would think we are dressing for a perpetual night out on the town. It’s not easy to find smart, quality clothes for every day wear. Cos, Marks & Spencer and Carven (top choice!) are good starting points for putting together your own contemporary outfits, suitable for those job interviews. Best of success with your job hunting!

contemporary take on a suit.

Yes! contemporary take on a suit.

Yes! contemporary take on a suit.

Noooooo! Unless you look like a young version of Linda Evangelista - this will not look good.

Noooooo! Unless you look like a youthful version of Linda Evangelista – this will not look good.

Yes! Absolutely perfect. I stumbled upon this perfect collection from CARVEN while perusing at Liberties. Casual but super smart looking skirt and top. The girl who wears this looks efficient and ready tackle any unreasonable deadline, without fear of spoiling her manicure.

Yes! I stumbled upon this perfect collection from CARVEN while perusing at Liberty. Casual but super smart looking skirt and top. The girl who wears this looks efficient and ready tackle any unreasonable deadline, without fear of spoiling her manicure.





So wish me luck in finding Rosie’s replacement. Someone hardworking, capable and fun. …and crucially, someone who understands the importance of a good cup of afternoon tea!


13 thoughts on “real life fashion: job interviews & impeccable dressing with CARVEN

  1. Virginia

    Great article Lady Sarah. Love the clothes you are featuring, especially ones with color. I am so very glad I do not have to worry about interview clothes anymore, as I am in the quasi health care world now, worst case I can wear scrubs. (I don’t have to)

  2. Cressida K

    Good tips Lady Sarah! As an HR professional may I also add that excessive fake tan and long nails can be a deal breaker.

  3. Philippa

    Did you find Rosie’s replacement? I read this with great interest having recently started my new job. (I wore this jacket to my interview, with a cream top, my faithful perfect black trousers*, French Sole pointy flats in a black-and-cream graphic jacquard, and my very old black Burberrry. It was my version of the outfit one of my interviewers had been wearing at my pre-interview meeting … it worked!). Like Virginia (above) I have been wearing scrubs (or inoffensive machine-washable outfits) to work for a while, so office-appropriate clothing is a new and very exciting venture!

    I have been living in my perfect trousers (I have two pairs), silk blouses from Uniqlo and a few old cashmere jumpers and even older boring dresses. Now that I’ve been there two weeks and have a better idea of the lay of the land (answer: anything goes, from jeans and Converse to suits) I am in search of my new work wardrobe. Very exciting! It lies somewhere between smart jeans and a suit … probably your ‘Contemporary take on a suit’ (above), although the office veers between glacial and tropical without warning, so outfits which can be built up or down at a moment’s notice are a must. Once my husband is out of hospital (sudden admission for a normally fit young man with no health problems on the first day of my second week at the new job has rather spiced up life) I am going to check out Carven at Liberty. Any other suggestions, please let me know!

    *(which are getting very old, and are no longer sold in Europe! No other trousers will do, so I am the lookout for someone to copy them for me, in lots of versions of lovely British wool suiting … no joy yet).

    1. ladysarahinlondon Post author

      Very sorry to hear about your husband. Hope all is going well… The new CARVEN collection is much more flowery, (will do a quick post about it. ) Their winter stuff comes out in July and may be better suited for work outfits. X

      1. Philippa

        ‘Their winter stuff comes out in July’ … Fashion is so wonderfully mad!

        Husband has just been let out and is watching Formula One on the sofa (via iPlayer I think … I believe he missed it while in hospital). Normally this drives me crazy, but I am very glad to have him back!

        I will look forward to your next Carven post. Any other thoughts for working wardrobes when you’re wandering around Liberty, let me know!

        1. ladysarahinlondon Post author

          Very happy to hear about your husbands swift recovery. Yes the winter staff comes out in July and the summer things in February. They like to keep us in line so we can plan ahead. 🙂

  4. Alyssa

    I have an interview to work as a sales assistant at a Carven boutique this week and am dying to find the perfect outfit for it. I am a student so my budget is pretty tight, and I won’t be able to invest in some of them super smart shirts (and collars!). Any tips?

    1. ladysarahinlondon Post author

      Lucky you- that will be an enviable job. All the employees get to wear the amazing CARVEN clothes, they bring out special editions for the sales associates. All the best for your interview and stay in touch – will visit you soon. 🙂 as to what to wear, their collars start at 90 euro, but I don’t think it’s expected to wear their clothes. I guess it’s nice to be familiar with the ethos of the company, but I don’t work in retail so not sure what exactly is expected.


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