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How to Dress for Cold Weather Job Interviews

By Nicole Cavazos

As a California native, the way I’d always dealt with cold weather (relatively speaking) was to put on a jacket and go. But after moving to Boston for a year, I quickly realized this strategy didn’t work so well in knife-like winds and wet freezing snow.

After arriving at a number of job interviews with numb feet and blue lips, I decided to try out this “layer” thing that I’d been hearing so much about. I even invested in a warm pair of boots. And big shock, the interviews went a little more smoothly. The interviewers even stopped shooting worried glances at my lips.

The moral of the story? If you’re from California, do some research about where you’re going. Second moral of the story? In cold weather job interviews, it pays to feel good as much as it does to look good. Here’s how you can do both.

LayersThere’s a reason why Californians are so laid back. They don’t need to think as much about what to wear in the morning. It wasn’t until I gave this whole idea of dressing in cold weather some deep thought that my aching jaw finally got some relief from its severe chattering.

And it’s not just the cold that you need to worry about. The heating systems in many buildings often have just two settings – off and sweltering. It’s not uncommon to arrive at your destination feeling as if you’re going to suffocate from the heat of all of your clothes.

Apparently, this is why layers can be so handy. On a very cold day, lightweight long johns can be extra nice. And a blazer or sweater over a nice moisture wicking dress shirt can keep you extra snug when you need it, but can be conveniently removed when you don’t. Brilliant.

Buy a Real CoatAnd by “real coat” I mean a nice warm overcoat. Sure, you can show up to an interview in a toasty yellow puffer jacket that you bought on sale last season at Big 5. But if you want to be taken seriously (i.e. a grown-up), invest in the nicest coat you can afford. An overcoat’s classic design never goes out of style and if you’re lucky, it will last for many years.

Make sure the coat is long enough to cover a suit jacket, but not so long that it could be mistaken for a bathrobe or your mommy’s coat. Knee length versions are usually the safest bet, but you could also opt for a stylish calf- or mid-length coat. Just be careful that it falls at the proper length and doesn’t overpower you.

If you’re shorter, a long coat may be harder to pull off than it is for the more vertically gifted. But any length can work for most people, as long as the coat is well tailored and fits your body properly.

FootwearThis is where novices fail. It’s hard to think about much else if you can’t feel your toes. So make sure you’ve got shoes that keep your feet warm and look good. While Uggs might feel nice and cozy on a chilly day, they’re better suited to a college frat party than an office interview.

On the other hand, high end Manolos look good in any situation. But unless you plan to arrive by car, stilettos and icy sidewalks don’t make for a happy combination. A safe bet is to wear formal shoes (preferably weatherproof) that you can comfortably wear with wool socks. While men have lots of choices, women should opt for a nice pair of fashionable, but comfortable boots.

And most importantly, make sure your shoes are clean and well maintained.

AccessoriesIf you like accessories, then cold weather dressing is for you! Nothing beats a cashmere scarf, wool gloves and a wool hat that covers your ears to make you look and feel like a million bucks. And with a nice shoulder bag, you’ll have someplace to quickly stow them when you reach your destination. Not only will you look super smart, you’ll be much more comfortable and ready to tackle your interview with confidence (and normal-colored lips).

Nicole Cavazos

Nicole Cavazos is a Los Angeles-based copywriter and blogger. As a former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog, she covered the job market and wrote advice for job seekers.

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