Jan 31, 2013
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Hey all, I am about to start my first round of interviews for PsyD/PhD Clinical Psych programs. I know it is probably a silly question, but is wearing black dress pants, a black turtleneck, and a pink suit jacket too eccentric? I know I probably won't be discluded for attire (unless I showed up in shorts and a tee shirt or something lol), but I figured I would ask.
 
Apr 16, 2012
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Hey all, I am about to start my first round of interviews for PsyD/PhD Clinical Psych programs. I know it is probably a silly question, but is wearing black dress pants, a black turtleneck, and a pink suit jacket too eccentric? I know I probably won't be discluded for attire (unless I showed up in shorts and a tee shirt or something lol), but I figured I would ask.
In all honesty I don't think it would matter too much, but personally I would not wear a pink suit jacket (and I LOVE wearing pink)--I would stick to the more "boring" option of black pants+black suit jacket.
 

G Costanza

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FYI- You will likely be known as "pink jacket girl" during the decision making process.
 
Dec 10, 2012
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I found that there's a happy medium between dressing professional and also standing out a bit. I went and bought myself a nice Emmaleigh dress from J.Crew. Instead of getting it in black or grey I chose a royal blue (stands out but still a professional color). It can be worn with a nice blazer or cardigan and it's pretty comfortable on days when you have a longer interview.
 

weeblewobble

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My primary outfit was a gray suit that I wore with blouses of different colors (including coral), but I had a secondary outfit that was black pants and a pretty formal but definitely pink jacket. I was accepted. So I'd say yes, obviously.

All that in mind- think about where you're applying. The "rules" in some geographic areas and programs are different than other places. My mentor wears extremely (EXTREMELY) casual clothing during our meetings and probably wouldn't notice if I shaved my head. There were schools I interviewed at where every dude was wearing a tie and every woman was wearing hose. They probably would have noticed if I got a trim.
 
Nov 21, 2012
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Is being known as the "pink jacket girl" necessarily a bad thing?
It can be.

Its always better to stand out for being an intelligent, poised applicant than for clothing. I have heard of doctoral students hurting their chances of landing a good pre-doctoral internship because they dressed too casually or wore clothing that was too flashy/bright.

As a female, you really can't go wrong with black, grey, navy blue, beige, or brown skirts or pants suits. Skirts could be knee length. A colorful but professional shirt underneath your suit is okay. I would go with simple jewelry and natural looking make-up. Interviews are probably not the best time to take fashion risks.

When I interviewed for programs years ago and then internship, I don't recall seeing anyone who deviated from the above.
 
Nov 21, 2011
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It can be.

Its always better to stand out for being an intelligent, poised applicant than for clothing. I have heard of doctoral students hurting their chances of landing a good pre-doctoral internship because they dressed too casually or wore clothing that was too flashy/bright.

As a female, you really can't go wrong with black, grey, navy blue, beige, or brown skirts or pants suits. Skirts could be knee length. A colorful but professional shirt underneath your suit is okay. I would go with simple jewelry and natural looking make-up. Interviews are probably not the best time to take fashion risks.

When I interviewed for programs years ago and then internship, I don't recall seeing anyone who deviated from the above.
I agree with the "safe" colors. To add to that, I might not go for a black suit but perhaps one of the other safe color suits. SO MANY women wear black, they look like they're wearing an "interview uniform." However, that is my opinion from being involved with multiple interview days for those interviewing at my graduate school AND, more recently, for interviews for the internship where I am currently at. Each time, most women wore black suits.
 
OP
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Jan 31, 2013
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I figured that it may be a little too much, but figured I would ask since I have no experience in this type of interview setting. I have black, grey, and navy suits as well, so I will probably just opt for one of those and maybe a colorful blouse because I don't think I could wear just neutral colors, not my style. My pink suit is the most comfortable and my favorite, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask if it was appropriate to wear just in case.

Thanks all on the advice! :)
 

weeblewobble

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I agree with the "safe" colors. To add to that, I might not go for a black suit but perhaps one of the other safe color suits. SO MANY women wear black, they look like they're wearing an "interview uniform." However, that is my opinion from being involved with multiple interview days for those interviewing at my graduate school AND, more recently, for interviews for the internship where I am currently at. Each time, most women wore black suits.
Agree. I would be hesitant about encouraging someone to go my pink jacket route, but would encourage someone to go with a gray or navy suit or a small, appropriate accessory. Being the "gray suit girl" or "green tie guy" would be a very good thing, because unfortunately if there are >3-4 applicants the details can get blurred in between. Little things can help a person stand out, positively as well as negatively. I remember an applicant from another lab that I really liked (great background, good research fit, etc etc) and the reason I could remember which applicant they were was their accent. So help us out, guys- there are a lot of you.
 

PsychPhDStudent

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I wore a (dark) pink shirt under my black suit at some interviews. I'd agree with those who said to err on the side of a more conservative jacket color. Like another poster said, you want to stand out for something other than your outfit. Save the pink jacket for a social event.
 

ClinPsychEnthus

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Jan 28, 2012
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I think there is an overall limit to going the "boring" option.

Yes, you should be known for poise, intelligence, ability to articulate your thoughts... but like most of us experience again and again, most of the applicants are also like that. That's where standing out in appropriate ways is key.

Ideas I tend to use include: a basic colored suit (black, gray, navy, tan, chocolate brown, a nice subtle pinstripe) with a "fun" top (if going with patterns, not too flashy, if going with lace, completely lined) that has a suitably high neckline (you can lose credibility fast by showin' off some cleavage). Other fun ideas include a pop of color via shoes, nail polish, a bracelet or an understated necklace... but pick ONE of those, maybe two if the color is subtle. I think the key is POLISH. Applicants to positions (grad school and internship) can show their ability to present in a professional manner when they come across as polished.

This lets your personality shine- which is a big part of determining fit! When you look boring, bored, uptight, uncomfortable, etc... that could be read as reflective of you. When you can have appropriate fun with it, it can allow them to picture a little more of how you would be as a trainee.
 
Aug 28, 2012
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Do you think a suit is necessary for an interview day? Or would grey dress pants, a white collar shirt and a blazer be okay?
 

PhDMiss2014

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Nov 12, 2012
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Do you think a suit is necessary for an interview day? Or would grey dress pants, a white collar shirt and a blazer be okay?
If you're a guy then I'm going to say no...wear a suit. If you're a girl, then I'm going to say that depends on how professional and pulled together that outfit looks. The pants, shirt and blazer need to be well coordinated and professional. I've seen some pretty ratty blazers thrown over blouses and pants with the intention of making the outfit dressier, and that fails. But if the blazer is nice and the pants are nice and the shirt/blouse is nice, you should be okay.
 

bpsydme

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I think there is an overall limit to going the "boring" option.

Yes, you should be known for poise, intelligence, ability to articulate your thoughts... but like most of us experience again and again, most of the applicants are also like that. That's where standing out in appropriate ways is key.

Ideas I tend to use include: a basic colored suit (black, gray, navy, tan, chocolate brown, a nice subtle pinstripe) with a "fun" top (if going with patterns, not too flashy, if going with lace, completely lined) that has a suitably high neckline (you can lose credibility fast by showin' off some cleavage). Other fun ideas include a pop of color via shoes, nail polish, a bracelet or an understated necklace... but pick ONE of those, maybe two if the color is subtle. I think the key is POLISH. Applicants to positions (grad school and internship) can show their ability to present in a professional manner when they come across as polished.

This lets your personality shine- which is a big part of determining fit! When you look boring, bored, uptight, uncomfortable, etc... that could be read as reflective of you. When you can have appropriate fun with it, it can allow them to picture a little more of how you would be as a trainee.
This reminds me of Devil Wears Prada.

Remember, fellow applicants, you should be yourself. If you are a serious, "boring" person, slapping on dangling orange earrings won't make you any more "fun". If you're someone who likes to make jokes, wearing a black suit won't make you look any more boring. What you wear (i.e. a representation of who you are) should be reflective of who you are. Trying to portray fun and happy when you're sitting there fumbling on your fingers and biting your lips will only make you look like you're trying too hard.

If you're a fashionista, then yes, go with whatever makes you feel your best. If you can care less what color is "in", then go with a neutral color.

I don't think you should be TRYING to portray anything. Your personality will show not only in your outfit, but your speech, demeanor, and application.

Good luck.
 

kyril

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I think there is an overall limit to going the "boring" option.

Yes, you should be known for poise, intelligence, ability to articulate your thoughts... but like most of us experience again and again, most of the applicants are also like that. That's where standing out in appropriate ways is key.

Ideas I tend to use include: a basic colored suit (black, gray, navy, tan, chocolate brown, a nice subtle pinstripe) with a "fun" top (if going with patterns, not too flashy, if going with lace, completely lined) that has a suitably high neckline (you can lose credibility fast by showin' off some cleavage). Other fun ideas include a pop of color via shoes, nail polish, a bracelet or an understated necklace... but pick ONE of those, maybe two if the color is subtle. I think the key is POLISH. Applicants to positions (grad school and internship) can show their ability to present in a professional manner when they come across as polished.

This lets your personality shine- which is a big part of determining fit! When you look boring, bored, uptight, uncomfortable, etc... that could be read as reflective of you. When you can have appropriate fun with it, it can allow them to picture a little more of how you would be as a trainee.

100% a suit is a no brainer. but having a bit of accessorizing can make you look more you and lend you confidence. you really want to be noticed for wh you are. a suit says professional. anything less formal may, or may not say that, which is why i always go with a suit. honestly, you want your personality and intelligence to set you apart, not your outfit. wear something simple, professional, that you look nice in, and forget about it and let yourself shine through.
 

AcronymAllergy

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100% a suit is a no brainer. but having a bit of accessorizing can make you look more you and lend you confidence. you really want to be noticed for wh you are. a suit says professional. anything less formal may, or may not say that, which is why i always go with a suit. honestly, you want your personality and intelligence to set you apart, not your outfit. wear something simple, professional, that you look nice in, and forget about it and let yourself shine through.
This. Just in my own experiences, the only time I've ever heard attire mentioned during applicant review meetings, it was in a negative light.
 
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Jan 31, 2013
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Well, I know you were all dying to know what I wore... I opted for a dark grey suit with a dark red blose and dark red business pumps. Thanks on all the advice!
 

PsyDHokie

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As a guy, should I just wear a suit and tie?
As a guy, I would agree with wearing a suit and tie. I would typically wear my black or gray suit, but once in a while would wear my khaki colored dress trousers with a navy blazer. I always wore a white dress shirt with a tie. I believe in investing in a suit that is tailored and fits nicely. Poorly fitting suits either are too big in the shoulders (looks like you're slouching) or baggy in the legs (makes you look "frumpy" and short). Suits are good investments anyways (work, wedding, parties, etc.)

I tended to wear things I felt like related to the setting. Someone usually notices and a good conversation starter.

University's (Counseling Centers, Hospitals, Psychiatry Departments, etc): The tie I wear are the school colors.

VA's and Prison's: I typically will wear my khaki dress trousers, a navy blazer, and a red/white/blue tie. I just figured being a government agency, I would be patriotic.

Yes, I ended buying a ton of ties during externship and internship interviews... I would just go to Marshall's or TJ Maxx where ties are uber cheap. :zip:
 

psychpsychpsych

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Nov 11, 2012
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For women, do you think it would be bad to wear a nice cardigan or sweater over a good button down/blouse? I have blazer/suit coats, but I'm quite petite, and just really dislike the way they look on me. I feel like a kid trying to play dress-up. I would think looking better but still professional would make up for not being quite as dressy, but I could be wrong...
 

PhDMiss2014

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Nov 12, 2012
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For women, do you think it would be bad to wear a nice cardigan or sweater over a good button down/blouse? I have blazer/suit coats, but I'm quite petite, and just really dislike the way they look on me. I feel like a kid trying to play dress-up. I would think looking better but still professional would make up for not being quite as dressy, but I could be wrong...
As a petite woman myself I can relate ! I opt for a suit with a shorter more fitted jacket. it looks professional but doesn't overwhelm my petite frame. Cardigans can sometimes just look too casual. Even my nicest dressiest cardigan would seem too casual for an interview. If at all possible, I'd opt for a well fitted blazer or suit jacket. Although I doubt seriously that wearing a nice cardigan would preclude you from getting the spot, I personally wouldn't want to take the chance of appearing too casual.
 

bpsydme

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I'm not sure how petite you are, but I'm 5'1 and a little over 100 lbs (to most people's standards, that's pretty petite). The biggest thing for me is make sure your clothes FIT, i.e. tailored. I don't know if you still have time to do this, but make sure your pants are tailored, your jacket fits you. A way for me to gauge this is the shoulders, esp. for blazers/jackets. Do the shoulders look too poofy or are they past your own?
I think being petite actually makes it easier to wear a suit, because it can be very fitted. From what I'm reading online, though, it seems most females are not expected to wear a suit, esp. for grad school interviews. For corporate jobs, you may be, but not in this case.
 
Dec 13, 2012
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I'm not sure how petite you are, but I'm 5'1 and a little over 100 lbs (to most people's standards, that's pretty petite). The biggest thing for me is make sure your clothes FIT, i.e. tailored. I don't know if you still have time to do this, but make sure your pants are tailored, your jacket fits you. A way for me to gauge this is the shoulders, esp. for blazers/jackets. Do the shoulders look too poofy or are they past your own?
I think being petite actually makes it easier to wear a suit, because it can be very fitted. From what I'm reading online, though, it seems most females are not expected to wear a suit, esp. for grad school interviews. For corporate jobs, you may be, but not in this case.
I am a similar size and found my suit at express pretty cheap. It's of nice quality and fits me pretty well.

Also, I disagree about women not being expected to wear a suit. That might be true for other graduate school interviews, but I have interviewed at 3 places so far (1 clinical science, 2 balanced) and have not seen women wear anything but a suit. I would have felt uncomfortable had I not worn one.
 
Apr 16, 2012
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I am a similar size and found my suit at express pretty cheap. It's of nice quality and fits me pretty well.

Also, I disagree about women not being expected to wear a suit. That might be true for other graduate school interviews, but I have interviewed at 3 places so far (1 clinical science, 2 balanced) and have not seen women wear anything but a suit. I would have felt uncomfortable had I not worn one.
Agreed. I had 5 interviews last year and women wore suits at every single one of them. Occasionally I saw one or two people who didn't wear suits, but they were definitely the exception.
 

psychpsychpsych

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Nov 11, 2012
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Thanks for the input from fellow petites :) (bpsydme, we're around the same size--I'm 5'2", heh.) I was unsatisfied with what I had to wear last night, so I went trawling the racks at the mall today. Don't have the time to get anything tailored, but I think I made out okay. PhDMiss, didn't see your advice before I went out, but I ended up following it unconsciously--the jacket I picked up is a lot shorter in length than the other ones I own, and I think it looks much better on me. I hate dress pants for similar short-person reasons, so I'm opting for a skirt for the bottom (much easier to find variable skirt lengths than pant lengths...). I'd rather be overdressed than underdressed, so I'm happy I found a jacket I like. Thanks again for the perspectives.
 
Jan 3, 2013
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Female applicant here. I was wondering for a more business-casual interview day, do you think that dark gray trousers with a black suit jacket would be appropriate? Also, would riding boots would seem too casual for an interview? Fair amount of walking is involved and I didn't want to wear flats or my heels, but I'll go buy some this weekend if I need!
 
Nov 21, 2012
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What if its not an interview but more of a general meeting?
Generally speaking, you can never go wrong with being a bit overdressed. I personally would wear a suit to an open house and treat it like an interview. I don't know what you mean by "general meeting."
 
Jan 25, 2012
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I can't make the open house but am going to go to a lab meeting. I feel a suit would be way overdressed in this instance. I'm leaning towards upscale jeans/blouse/blazer with boots. The jeans/no jeans is hard in this situation. Maybe a dress would be easier.
 

kyril

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For women, do you think it would be bad to wear a nice cardigan or sweater over a good button down/blouse? I have blazer/suit coats, but I'm quite petite, and just really dislike the way they look on me. I feel like a kid trying to play dress-up. I would think looking better but still professional would make up for not being quite as dressy, but I could be wrong...
banana republic and ann taylor make nice petite suits too. i've been able to find one that fits me well and then buy it on sale on ebay. when i find something that fits me (hard as a petitie) i get the full set--pants, blazer, skirt, and sheath dress so that i can work it like 3 suits and feel comfortable that i look good. i just finished internship interviews and wore the same 4 piece suit combo that i bought for program interviews 4 years ago. it is a worthwhile investment!
 

Occlumentia

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I agree with the posters who said they treated it like a job interview. I attended 3 interviews last year and got offers from all 3 places. I wore suit pants (without the jacket as it was warm), smart flat black shoes, a fitted white button-up collared shirt, and distinctive (but not distracting) jewellery. Basically I went for 'polished professional' rather than 'stand-out' - an outfit that I'd be comfortable in as a professional in hospital, clinic or a conference (even though my personal taste is quite different, more on the quirky/goth-y side). A lot of the other candidates I saw I thought were too dressed up. Ultimately of course we should be judged on our experience, marks and how we answer the interview questions, but let's not kid ourselves - first impressions do matter.