It has come to my attention that, as a college senior, I am going to be an adult professional type person very soon. This is exciting, yes, but also frightening. Mostly because I am supposed to be going on my first few medical school interviews in a couple weeks and I just realized that none of the clothing that I currently own is at all appropriate for my future. I preface the rest of this by saying that I am very grateful for these wonderful opportunities, but also… dang. At least half of my clothes are things that I have owned since senior year of high school, and the majority of what I have purchased since then are in no way, shape, or form “adult” enough to be worn in a professional interview setting. Shopping can be a lot of fun, and I generally think of myself as a relatively well-put-together person, but not when it comes to professional business attire. All of the jobs I have ever had up to this point were, at most, business casual, so suffice to say my wardrobe is not prepared for this.
If you are someone who identifies as and chooses present yourself as a male, in order to abide by what is deemed “appropriate” interview fashion standards, you generally must wear a suit and tie and dress shoes. Obviously these things are very expensive, but that’s basically all you have to worry about aside from your own personal hygiene. But for female-identifying individuals such as myself, the process proves to be much more complicated. As soon as I started Googling for some helpful advice, I became about a hundred times more stressed out. Thus, I am going to use this blog post as a method of cathartic release.
Now Presenting: A Confusing and Seemingly Contradictory Guideline To Women’s Medical School Interview Clothing, As Gathered By Perusing The Internet In One Afternoon
- According to what I read, the look you’re going for is somewhere between Elle Woods and Hillary Clinton. You don’t want to look like a child playing dress up, but you also don’t want to look like a grandmothers or a drab librarian. Not that I have anything against librarians or grandmothers, many of whom I know to be very stylish individuals, but I digress.
- Most people tend to go with a pantsuit or a skirt suit, which sounds simple enough, right? Sort of, if you’re a decisive type of person, but alas, I am not. Thus the number of combinations becomes overwhelming quite quickly. For the suit jacket or blazer, the “safest” color options are black, navy blue, or grey. But you can mix or match that with pants or a skirt or a dress. If you go the skirt or dress route, it can’t be too short, but it also can’t be too matronly. I tried on a bunch of pencil skirts but they were all way too short on me. If you go the pants route, they can’t be too casual or too tight. I tried on about dozen pairs of fancy dress pants at half a dozen stores in pursuit of the right ones. At JC Penney they were $20 and didn’t fit me right. At Express they were $60 and didn’t fit me right. At Banana Republic they were $90 and didn’t fit me right. WHERE ARE THE MODERATELY PRICED PANTS THAT ACTUALLY FIT ME?
- Then you have to consider the shirt underneath the jacket, for which there are about a million potential options. A general rule is that the shirt should be a lighter color than the jacket, though you have to aware of bra visibility. It also can’t be low cut because heaven forbid if anyone can tell if you have a boob or two. You might accidentally seduce an entire panel of interviewers. No frills or ruffles or lace. No bright or pastel colors. No obnoxious patterns. What is this, New York Fashion Week? But you also don’t want to look boring, or like a clone of everyone else, or like you are going to a funeral. Good luck with that!
- Don’t try to be memorable with your jewelry. No visible body piercings beyond “conservative” ear piercings. Nothing flashy or dangly or glittery or anything that could otherwise be considered distracting in any way. If your chunky necklace is too chunky, your interviewers might be so distracted that they can’t help but stare at it the entire time and completely ignore all of the words coming out of your mouth.
- Apparently someone decided that flats are not professional enough footwear, but I think that falling down because you tripped in your heels is probably far less professional, so make sure they’re not too high. They should be comfortable and walk-able, yet fashionable. Cause that’s always easy to find, right? And no open-toe because no one wants to see that. I guess I have to buy my first pair of heels since the $19.99 ones I grabbed fifteen minutes before DSW closed the night before prom. #adult
- It also seems to be repeatedly stressed that I must buy nude pantyhose. I can’t believe I am coming to a point in my life where I must buy pantyhouse.
- Also, take into account the fact that interview season is mostly during the winter. You’re going to need a coat cause it’s gonna be flippin’ cold as they tour you around the school. You want something long and professional looking. Apparently pea coats are not professional enough according to whatever website I was reading, but I think I might just selectively ignore that because I think my pea coat is adorable and classy.
- You want to look like you aren’t wearing any make-up, because you don’t want to look like you’re ready to go out and party rather than go to an interview, but you can’t actually not wear make-up, because then you will look like a lazy slob who just rolled out of bed.
- As for nail polish, don’t wear it unless it is nude or clear. Make sure your nails are trimmed. If they’re too long they might be seen as a weapon? You never know. You should probably get a manicure because who knows if your cuticles are going to be up to professional standards.
- No perfume, not even strong deodorant. But make sure you wear deodorant because you will probably be sweating from the nerves.
- One thing that I read said to avoid “big hair” which sounded like subtle racism, so that’s promising. Basically the only guidelines other than that that I have seen tell you to just look professional. I should probably try to figure out a different way to wear my hair other than in a braid because I feel like for SOME REASON that would not be considered professional enough. That seems to be the theme here.
- Somewhere it told me I should get a fancy leather briefcase type thing, but that’s not happening.
Yet another unrealistic expectation for women, am I right?
Obviously there is little to no way to actually follow all of these guidelines unless you have a boatload of money. Furthermore I am not quite sure how you could still have a boatload of money after already paying exorbitant fees to take the MCAT and send applications to a sufficient number of schools. It would have to at least be reduced to a dinghy-load of money by that point. Part of me thinks that if there is ever a time when it is worth it to splurge for fancy clothes, a medical school interview is probably it. But then I think about how I need to afford to travel across the United States to actually attend the interviews and I think again. It’s probably more important to save that $80 on unnecessarily expensive pants and buy gas for my car.