Official Women's Interview Attire Thread

There’s a pretty great thread on this subject on SDN, but I thought it would be nice to have one here too, since this is one of the ways in which non-trads are unique! That is, we do not have parents who are just dying to help us buy that first suit.
At least that is my situation.
So anyway, I wondered what people would be planning on wearing to their interviews, or what people have worn in the past to these things.
I’m wearing a suit I just bought today. It’s gray wool with light pinstripes. I know black is the norm but I just couldn’t see myself doing that. Also this one just struck me in a special way. I tried on a million others, every single one of which I swear made me look like either the wife of a funeral home director or else Nancy Reagan, even though we bear no resemblance whatsoever to each other. Somehow that’s the magic of women’s businesswear.
Do med students have much need for dressing up? Efex101 just bought a suit for shadowing, right? I’m hoping I’ll have some use for this thing in the future, since it wasn’t cheap. I didn’t HAVE to buy it either, since I already own another one.
What about jewelry, shoes, coat and a bag? Anybody else thinking about this?
Anyone who interviewed in previous years have reflections they’d like to share on this subject?

Hi P-
For some reason there were quite a few “casual dressers” during my interview cycle last year. I mean they weren’t in jeans, they were in dresses and one in a skirt with solid top, but they stood out like a sore thumb among everyone. Now, in a perfect world their interviewer wouldn’t care, but I think the pants/dress suit is still the way to go for women, whether it be black, pinstripe, whatever.
As for purse – I saw quite a few females carrying a combo purse/document holder, which is very professional and minimizes your chances of leaving something behind in the bathroom.
THING I WISHED I’D DONE DIFFERENTLY: the shoes!! They matched the suit BUT we ended up taking a long walking tour at one school and my feet were killing me!! Ask ahead.

Jewelry: Plain pearl stud earrings. Shoes: Depends on the weather. Polished, dark, low-heeled pumps if it’s not snowing. Coat. Hmm…I have a loden green microsuede down coat for utter winter. For mild coolth, I may break down and sew the buttons back on my camel-colored wool trenchcoat, but it’s too lightweight to be practical in much weather.
I’ll think about it next year. Maybe I’ll hit a good camel or cashmere coating sale and make a dressy coat. Maybe I’ll just chill out and wear what I have.
But I promise I won’t wear my usual winter coat, which is a golden-yellow LL Bean Storm Parka embellished with clashing lemon-yellow reflective tape. It’s great for a bicycle commuter, but not exactly a fashion classic.
I’l probably put my purse essentials into a little zippered case and drop it in my porfolio holder.

hate to say it but you’re likely to put the suit in the closet until you brush it off for residency interviews. In shadowing and clerkship experiences, you’ll be putting on that lovely fashion statement, the short white coat, over whatever else you’re wearing. So you might get more mileage out of the skirt/pants and blouse, but the jacket gets left behind… this always made me sad as I love nothing better than a really nice tailored jacket.
Mary R.

I don’t tend to think about such things unless someone else reminds me… thanks guys!
I guess I’ll probably go buy a suit, should, I mean if… no, I mean when I get an interview… (yeah, when)…
but it’ll not be the standard “secretarial suit”… I’ll have to do something weird…
if I have to wear jewelry, I’ll probably have to borrow some… LOL (my MIL has enough to outfit us all)…
oy and shoes… you mean I have to wear something besides Birkenstocks? Aw MAN! I hate that! I’ll have to start looking…
I imagine I won’t buy anything though until it’s scheduled… I guess I’m not enough of an optimist to just assume it’s going to happen.
LOL… good luck shopping ladies!


hate to say it but you’re likely to put the suit in the closet until you brush it off for residency interviews. In shadowing and clerkship experiences, you’ll be putting on that lovely fashion statement, the short white coat, over whatever else you’re wearing. So you might get more mileage out of the skirt/pants and blouse, but the jacket gets left behind… this always made me sad as I love nothing better than a really nice tailored jacket.

Me too. I will be sad to put my new ensemble away for so long. I suppose I wouldn’t endear myself to many of my medical school classmates if I started wearing it to class?
I just love this new suit but the guilt is building with each day since the purchase. So much for those high-minded principles I am trying to show off in my secondary essays–it’s like I take one trip to a downtown department store and they just crumble in less time than it takes to sign on the dotted line!
I checked the discount stores too but it was depressing. When it comes to fashion Minneapolis is not exactly Milan. The lady at Bloomingdale’s actually told me I would find nothing interesting in her store. Most of the colors this year seem really drab, and all I could find were pants suits. I love the one I ended up buying, but I think I’m going to have to cancel a couple months’ worth of car insurance to rationalize it. At least walking to work might help restore some of my wavering principles…
Speaking of walking, are there any rules about shoes, especially heels? My friends say I MUST wear pumps. To me those are associated with bridesmaids appearal. Could the heels be slightly chunky? (not Spice Girls chunky, mind you, I know enough to leave the platforms at home). I’m 31–does that mean I should look even more conservative than the younger students?

I would say this shoe is not too chunky to look professional. Is that what you had in mind? Here’s a lower heel for those who aren’t big on the high heels stuff. Still a dressy pump, but you won’t fall off of your shoes. Finally, Hush Puppies makes some conservative flat pumps that, while slightly less dressy, certainly will not make you look bad. Payless will probably have inexpensive equivalents of most of these basic styles.
It makes sense to wear a conservative shoe that looks like it ought to be worn with a suit, with a low enough, wide enough heel that you can walk all over the campus without wobbling or cursing the day you were born with feet.

Hi there,

I invested in a pair of Easy Spirit flat black dress shoes and a pair of 1-inch black pumps. They are comfortable and look very professional. You can’t teeter around on 3-inch heels chunky or not for a medical school interview. You may be required to walk fairly long distances that include steps. If you can’t keep up, it looks bad.

If you have very wide or very narrow feet, Payless is not going to cut it for you. You will be miserable. If you are heavier than 150 pounds, Payless is not going to fit properly in a dress shoe. You need shoes that have been fit properly and broken in properly. Sore feet can make the whole day miserable.

I also carried my shoes and put them on in the ladies room. There is nothing worse than scuffed up pumps. I wore my running shoes to the main door and then into the ladies room for a quick change; check for runs in my panty hose and a quick de-linting. I also put on fresh lipstick and checked my nose for excessive shine.

When it comes to interviews, less is always more. This is not the time to break in new shoes, try new hairdos, or wear strong perfume. If you are in doubt about what to wear, look at the female physicians (not surgeons) who are lecturing and dress accordingly.

I wore a simple Chanel suit dress with low-heeled black pumps, one strand of pearls (never go anywhere without my pearls) and small gold stud earrings with pearls. My hair was pulled back in a bun. I wore a small amount of foundation, a small amount of powder and very pale lipstick; no perfume. You can look very stylish without looking drab. A classic suit never goes out of style. I still have Chanel suits from my days as a TV news producer (can’t fit into but soon I will ).

I carried extra blouse, extra panty hose, spot lifter, toothbrush and tooth paste, hydrogen peroxide/alcohol, my dress shoes. a small compact and lipstick in my attache case. I also carried copies of my correspondence file (the original stayed home). Everything fit and it gave me something to hold during my interviews. My nails were short with pale polish and very clean.

I arrived on site at least 45 minutes early so I could relax and look around. I arrived in town the afternoon before my interview and left the afternoon one day after. I didn’t want to be rushed in any manner. Looking cool and relaxed means being prepared for anything. Everything I took with me was carry-on baggage so that there was nothing for the airlines to lose.


Wow, congratulations on being, like, the best pre-med interview candidate in history. Not kidding, no sarcasm.

I wear extra-wide shoes myself (EE when I can get them), and agree that Payless is generally not ideal for those of us with exceptional feet. This is funny because I just looked down and am wearing a pair of shoes right now that I bought at Payless; I do luck out from time to time. Payless may work fine, though, for people with “normal” feet. They must be out there; all the shoes are made for those people.
I actually buy most of my shoes online, and recommend Maryland Square, Mason Shoes and Auditions Shoes for those of us with funky sizes. I find Hush Puppies makes very comfortable pumps at fair prices, and all three vendors carry them. Interestingly, the Easy Spirit extra-wide pumps will NOT accommodate my little toe comfortably in a size that will actually stay on my feet.
This is my long-winded way of saying Nat’s right, get your shoes early (especially if doing mail order) and make sure they work for you. As long as it looks like a pump from the front and it’s comfortable, nobody is going to be measuring the heels.

I’m going to copy down all your advice and use it as I get ready!
I like those red shoes, Denise, the ones with the higher heel. I would want to go a little higher even than that though. Maybe if I find something in the next few days I’ll post a link to a picture and get people’s opinions.
I wish I had your sewing skills and could make my own suit, by the way!

Good luck with the shoes! I wouldn’t go higher than 2 1/2" for myself; I end up with either a clumsy walk, or a very sexy one. Your mileage may vary.

Gosh, I’m having fun talking about shoes!

Ok, I’m going to try to post some links. Here’s one to a pair of shoes that is similar to ones I bought at Nordstrom last night. The shoes I actually bought don’t have a buckle; instead the open part of the shoe goes a little lower and has a small strap across it, just a bit higher than the toes (hope this makes some sense). The whole front of the shoe has a lacy looking dot pattern on it. But the chunky heel is just like the one in the picture.
Now here is a pair of shoes I’m desperately trying to order in my size as we speak. The one I’m ordering is black on black, rather than two toned like the picture. I love these, and the are modern just like my suit, but I’m afraid the 3’ heel might be too risque for this occasion? What do people think? I’m 5’2 so I need all the height I can get. The black on black-ness makes a huge difference; it’s way less conspicuous looking than the multicolored ones in the picture.;NW_JSESSIONID=B0ycw6PP4dTRm1CpJFSWML3mSjsPyX4nl11CWBLfRmaqEiBjk0jl!-516430008#
Hope these links work!
Yeah, I agree, this thread is awfully fun. Once it changed to “shoes”, I just knew there would be no stopping it!

Ok, that second link didn’t work so just go to
and type in “parlor” at the top of the screen in the search box.
Sorry, I doubt anyone cares so much about my choice of shoes as to look them up, but if anyone feels like it I’d love second opinions!
Oh, and before everyone thinks I’m living a lavish life here, the only reason I’d pay full price for shoes like this is that I wear an off size and simply have very few options. They have to fit if I’m going to walk in them all day!

I think the Parlor shoes are too cute for the occasion. You and I know that the Mary Jane style strap is sophisticated fashion these days, but there’s too much risk that some of the old farts interviewing you are going to look at them and see Mary Janes that equal cute and young, which at your height you don’t need.
I’d stick with 2" heels, to be honest. There’s only so tall you’re going to get and high heels can look frivolous, if only because of the subtle way they change your posture.
Here are a couple of alternatives that I think have a little more conservative shape to them, without being the kind of classic pump you associate with dyed-to-match bridesmaid shoes:
Leather loafer-style pump
Leather and fabric pump with subtle detailing
As with all shoe advice, take it all with a grain of salt and do what works for you. Basically, I looked for shoes I thought you wouldn’t find too boring and that the interviewers wouldn’t find too interesting.

Thanks Denise, I am so glad you responded! I like those new shoes you showed me. They slightly resemble the ones I already bought at Nordstrom so I think even with those I’ll be fine. I love your advice about looking for something that’s interesting enough for me but not too interesting for interviewers!
The thing is I just want to feel comfortable, and like my usual self, on interview day. The whole deal with the heels is that I jumped on the platform shoe bandwagon back when it got going in the mid-90’s, and got used to being 5’5 or 5’6. Suddenly people feared me! :slight_smile: I always knew that one day the trend would end, or there’d be a time when I’d have to show up in something sensible. I think that time might be here and now I must just accept it.
Thanks for looking!

Besides, with a kick-ass suit to do the job for you, you won’t need the tall shoes.
I know the magic that certain trivial wardrobe changes can work, so I know that sudden feeling of power you’re talking about. I had a boss once (since retired) who believed every little golden word to drop from my lips if I wore a suit when I explained it to him. If I didn’t, he questioned even my most simple decisions. I’m quite sure he had no idea he was doing it. As a result of this experience, I have very strong opinions about what does and doesn’t work for the workplace and for interviews. Sometimes I go overboard, but I always enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Oh yeah, I know what you mean. And what a clueless boss you had, not to realize what he was doing! I also think different people can work different types of clothes to their advantage. I haven’t given up on those parlor shoes just yet. I’m going to try them on and see if they complete the right look; if not I’ll keep them for some other occasion.
Rest assured everyone, I will let you know the outcome of this important decision.

Ok, would anyone like to take a look at these pictures, and tell me what they think? The first one’s the jacket and possible shirt for my interview ensemble. The second one is the reincarnation of those Mary Jane shoes I liked so much. Somehow I could not say no, even though I know they are maybe a bit on the too-cute side. However, I think they seem ok.

The reason I’m asking for second opinions is that there was a thread on SDN yesterday that really got me worried! Some guy had planned to spend about $200 on a new suit. Then his aunt took him suit shopping, and by the end of the day he walked out of the store with new Italian threads that cost about as much as a piano. People were guessing he spent 2-3 grand on the suit, and talking about what a punk he’d seem like at interviews! They were talking about how anyone with any fashion sense would know right away what he must have spent on that suit, and how bad that would look.

My suit didn’t cost anywhere near that much–but the subject of too flashy/trendy/expensive suit got me thinking. Here in Minnesota we have strict rules about what qualifies as conventional, and I worry that this outfit doesn’t quite make it. I really like it, but is it conservative enough? Would someone just look at these pics and tell me what they think?

The first one’s attached here, and I’ll attach the next one, of the shoes, below. Also, instead of the lavender sweater, I might wear a white collared shirt. But then I will look like a banker.

Ok, thanks! If it looks all wrong I can just wear my boring black suit.

Attached files

Here’s the second one.

Oh, and hey, what do you all think of my fashion photography?

Attached files