I'm trying to piece together an outfit for job interviews. I think I'll end up wearing a dark suit, a light colored blouse, and maybe a brooch or some understated but striking piece of jewelry.
I need help on the handbag! This will be an interview at a business/corporate office. I know the environment/mood of the place will be conservative and classy so I need to look really put-together. There will be men in designer Italian suits and women with ridiculously expensive bags and shoes walking around so I'm really really scared about looking out of place.
The thing is, I don't own any really nice handbags. My suit will be either from J. Crew or Banana Republic, which I can afford, but I feel like the handbag should really be a defining piece and I'm ready to invest in something classic and expensive-looking.
I need help finding something that is medium sized, in a rectangular-esque shape (maybe like the Mulberry Mabel), and either gray or brown leather. Okay, it doesn't HAVE to be boxy and rectangular and I'm open to other alternatives. It also needs to be able to be worn on the shoulder (I don't deal well with short-handled totes). I don't want it to be too plain (i.e. I think the Mabel is too plain...) but I also don't want it to be over-the-top trendy either. Something that stands-out without being loud. Something refined and elegant but not boring and could easily be substituted by a <$100 imitation at Target/TJ Maxx. I think my budget will be around $500 but I want the quality to reflect the price (b/c let's face it, there are a lot of really expensive bags out there that really shouldn't be the prices that they are). I know the summer sales are coming up so if it goes for around $500 at the discounted price, then that's fine too.
Um....so, do you ladies/gents have any suggestions? I'm going to pieces over this!
I've attached some pictures. The first 2 are croc bags by LAPA found on forzieri.com but I'm not familiar with that brand at all and I can't seem to find my info on it (I'd like to stick with established brands, which can be found in my local stores so I can go in person to touch and feel the product before I buy it. I generally don't just buy based on a photo alone).
I would suggest a Mulberry Bayswater. It is definitely classic, corporate, and more conservative. I'm going to a networking event held at an old-guard Big 5 accounting firm today and that's what I'm carrying.
I love Mulberry bags for that subtle British style. So classic. However, I have found finding a Bayswater around $500 is not easy. Besides buying new, have you considered a pre-loved bag? Maybe check Anne's Fabulous Finds? The reason I'm saying this is that you might get more bag for your budget. Some ladies sell last season's color on consignment sites because they like to buy the newest color each season. That could be to your benefit. Many of those bags have had little use. Can you post a pic of your suit? I know TPFrs will be able to assist you right down to the shape and color of the bag for that suit, LOL.
Also, it is good to buy with the interview in mind, but if you are buying an investment bag, keep in mind that you may want it to be a bag that you would like to wear other than just for career "occasions". You should love the silhouette enough to like grabbing it for the white shirt and jeans days also. I like a rectangular brief-bag but find it more limiting for dinner and the movies or for jeans day.
Have you considered a bowler-shape bag? Many of them are sized to accomodate a notebook PC. One of my favorite work bags is Hayden Harnett's Trophy bag. I like it because it is classic and elegant with lots of quality detailing in glorious leather - and best yet, is not widely-known. I like the fact that it is recognizable as luxury but not so well-known. It always opens up conversation. And, I've tested it! I work as marketing director for a multi-office real estate investments company. These ladies carry LV, Fendi, Gucci, Mulberry, YSL, Kooba, etc. They are into their handbags and can assess a bag at a glance. My Hayden Harnett firstly draws compliments from them, then the question where did I get it, and generally winds up with me writing down the name and contact info for them. In this way, I've built a connection with them. The trophy bag runs around $678 full price, but the company knows how to run a sale.
If an independent design label is too under-the-radar for you, YSL has some beautiful classic career bags. I love their large Muse. Also, as you check each designer's official site, sign up for their newsletters... that translates to "sale codes".
Last edited May 12, 2009 at 10:35am.
Reason: added a sentence
If I were going to an interview, I would for sure take my Bayswater. Such a classic bag. And big enough to fit a folder with your resume. They are over your budget, but what about an East/West Bayswater? Same classic style, and still a good size.
The best outfit for an interview in a conservative corporate environment is one that doesn't get noticed. So dark suit, blouse in a flattering color, mid-heel shoes, non-logo leather bag and very basic jewelry. You need to dazzle them with your brilliance and not with your sense of style. So, I say, buy a basic leather bag on sale at Banana or J Crew and save your money for something that you'll get more use out of.
You can never go wrong with Cole Haan. They are classic and hold up really well. But I would also encourage you to look at Furla. Their prices are right in your range and they are fashion forward enough to be a statement piece, but subtle enough to last you a long time.
Definitely NOT a designer bag for an interview. You can probably bring out your designer labels later, after you get the job.
I agree. #1 you don't want to seem pretentious... and #2 you don't want them thinking they can't afford you.
I'd stick to maybe a Cole Haan, or even J Crew like someone mentioned... heck even a Liz Claiborne croco tote. You can pick one up at TJ Maxx for under $50 and it's classy and professional without giving up quality.
If I were spending $500 on a bag, it would be on a bag I'm going to carry often, not something I'm just going to use for an interview.
That's just my opinion though. Good luck at your interview!