I’m a woman — does my interview attire have to be feminine?

A reader writes:

I am a young woman about to graduate college and enter the workforce. I am also a lesbian and very uncomfortable with feminine clothing. In a perfect world, my professional attire would be near-identical to what is expected for a man.

I’ve never had to interview for a job before, as all my existing work experience is summer jobs that I got through personal connections (working with professors or people in my community) and I’m starting to get nervous about the upcoming process of interviewing. You suggest dressing for an interview in a way that will not draw attention to your outfit, and I know that if I dress the way I prefer to, I absolutely will be seen as “the butch candidate.” This does not seem ideal!

I live in an extremely liberal city, and maybe on paper nowhere I’d be looking to work would discriminate against people with gender nonconforming fashion tastes — but I also know that not everyone in charge of interviews is going to be as “woke” as the average reputation of a city, and a lot of the hiring process is based on subconscious biases.

What do I do? Grit my teeth, borrow one of my girlfriend’s blouses for the interview, and if I get the job just show up on day one wearing a suit and tie? Would it be disingenuous to dress differently for an interview than I plan to dress for the job itself? Would interviewing in a suit and tie be a good litmus test for how accepted I’d be in the job, or would it likely screw me over before I’ve even begun?

Nah, you don’t need to borrow a blouse.

You can if you want to. It’s not disingenuous to wear a typically feminine-presenting outfit to the interview even if that’s not your normal day-to-day wear. A lot of people have interview outfits that don’t bear a ton of resemblance to what they wear once they’re actually on the job.

But if you’re more comfortable in traditionally masculine-presenting clothes, there’s a real advantage to interviewing in them: It’ll help screen out companies where that’ll be an issue, and will screen in workplaces that don’t care.

That’s the case with a lot of things about how you present yourself at an interview, not just clothing. For example, if you’re naturally quiet and reserved but you force yourself to be bubbly and outgoing in interviews, you risk ending up in a job where they want you to be bubbly and outgoing (and that can be hellish if that’s not you).

As a general rule, the more you’re yourself in an interview, the more confident you can be that you’ll be able to comfortably be yourself on the job.

(Of course, that advice works well when you have options and the luxury of happily screening out employers that won’t be a comfortable fit. It can be less realistic when you don’t.)

All that said, since you’re in an extremely liberal city, this is pretty unlikely to be an issue (especially if we’re talking about something like San Francisco). You’re right that interviewers don’t always mirror the sensibilities of the cities where they’re located, but women in masculine-presenting clothing is so quickly entering the mainstream that it’s just not going to be a thing for the majority of interviewers.

I think you’re well-positioned to wear the professional clothes you’re comfortable with.

{ 293 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    To head off a bunch of unhelpful for advice for this LW — she is not asking about wearing a women’s pantsuit! Obviously it is totally fine to wear a woman’s pantsuit to an interview; that wouldn’t even be a question in this day and age unless you are applying somewhere really problematically stuffy.

    What she’s asking about is wearing something coded more as menswear. The difference between women’s suits and men’s suits is significant. (Think about the suits you see in the men’s department vs. the ones in the women’s department.)

  2. Jobbyjob*

    For what it’s worth, my wife is butch and has found the following to feel really comfy and convenient for her. We are in a liberal city as well and she goes by a gender neutral name, so one of her concerns was actually that she didn’t want to be inadvertently perceived as a trans man. She will typically wear a very androgynous suit (women’s but cut neutral) and a button down shirt with no tie. She also tends to wear men’s shoes and a pair of small stud earrings. Minimal or no make up. This seems to straddle the line for her to be read as a woman who likes to wear masculine attire and she’s never had an issue with finding a position where she can then wear whatever menswear she likes once hired.

    1. JayJay*

      I work in a very old-fashioned, formal industry, and the butch women I have worked with have worn just what you described – androgynous suits, collared shirts, and no tie – and no one ever batted an eye about it.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        A TIE seems to be the one thing that goes beyond “typically feminine-presenting outfit” here.
        I used to wear jacket, shirt, and a loosened tie, but they were vintage wide ties w/interesting designs, and it was an alternative newspaper with no other ties in sight.
        I didn’t know that a suit jacket and shirt are so gender-specific. There are plain suits and shirts w/collars and tie shoes in women’s departments as well as men’s. Guess I just don’t get it.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Let me put in a word for consignment stores for those who might not use them. Prices are a third of retail and you can find pricey, “traditional” clothes a year old. Maybe better for an interview suit than for everyday at work. And they have seasonal sales. They have men’s depts. too.
        I’ve found some Ralph Lauren steals.

    2. Abogado Avocado*

      In my very large U.S. city not on the East or West Coast, there are several female trial lawyers who wear men’s shirts, suits, and shoes in court — and nobody bats an eye. In fact, they’re pretty successful in front of juries and, to me, that’s the acid test for acceptance.

      One day, one of these lawyers was wearing a worsted wool I was covetous of and I asked her where she’d found it, fully expecting she’d say she’d had it made for her. Turns out, she went to a men’s suit store, tried on suits until she found what she wanted, and then had them tailor it for her. I forgot to ask if they tailored it for her for free (as happens for male purchasers), but I sure hope so!

      1. Anne Elliot*

        Personally I think women who dress in well-tailored menswear look very snappy, regardless of sexual orientation. I’m moving more in that direction myself as my willingness to wear skirts and heels dwindles. I think some women avoid the look because they are concerned that they might be perceived as gay, and it is true that unsoftened menswear can read that way. Since the LW is gay, that’s probably not an issue. As a straight woman, I do try to bring some feminine touches, mostly through jewelry or a scarf, but I don’t try very hard because I don’t care if people think I’m gay or not.

        1. Modern Rosie Riveter*

          Same! I’m a cis straight woman in a male dominated engineering field, and have totally given up on skirt suits for interviews, and never wear skirts and heels to work (I don’t even wear them much outside of work, just not my style). I tried to model my last interview outfit after menswear as best I could (haven’t gone out shopping because, you know, pandemic) and I was much more comfortable, although I wish I had a pair of loafers instead of heels!

          I think it’s totally fine, modern, and really quite stylish to rock some menswear! I agree about it being tailored too, it doesn’t have to be tight, just being well fitted can go a long way to looking great for anyone of any gender and sexual orientation.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            The VP of the U.S. usually wears a dark suit w/pants, and she looks great. While the First Lady rocked some patterned hose recently. That opens up what people think about wearing.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          You can wear skirts without heels. There are some very comfy flats out there.
          I find skirts much more comfy than pants. They never ride up or dig into my waist, they’re much easier to adjust if I lose weight, and more flexible if I gain weight. I don’t know why everyone isn’t wearing them, including men. ;)

          1. allathian*

            I have body image issues about my legs from varicose veins and cellulite, and I don’t show them to the public for that reason. If it’s very hot, I might wear a long skirt (mid-calf or ankle length), although chub rub is a problem.

            1. 2 Cents*

              For chub rub, I either use Body Glide between the thighs or wear bike shorts (not ideal) or I just bought a pair of chubrub shorts from Snag tights. I’ve had chubrub all my life (from my most active sports days till now, when I’m not) and the body glide really does work.

            2. Selina Luna*

              Dude. The chub rub is real. I don’t know if you’re looking for advice, but I get chub rub from some trousers as well as skirts without anything underneath. I wear leggings most of the time, but when I was more chill with shaving and showing my legs, I wore bike shorts that fit like leggings (skin-close, but comfy) and that eliminated it in both trousers and skirts. If you’re wearing a long skirt for any reason, bike shorts are made to cut down on heat and they also cut down on chub rub.

            3. DJ Abbott*

              I have varicose veins also, and was very embarrassed when I saw a photo of myself with no stockings and those veins were bad! I started wearing nylons all the time, the lightweight Hanes are good for summer.
              Now I have age-related swelling of my ankles and legs. Before the pandemic I was able to get some thigh-high support nylons that work well. Even with these extra things to take care of, I still like skirts better for the above reasons, they fit better and don’t ride up or cut into my waist.
              Not wearing them much these days… sweatpants or joggers… A denim skirt for outdoor social events, and occasionally interview clothes. But they’ll be there when I want them again. :)

          1. TardyTardis*

            I have always been jealous of anyone who can wear tailored suits well, since I come off as the Danny DeVito Penguin in them. So I rock the Church Lady Pantsuit instead…

    3. cleopatra*

      At some point, Allison posted links to women’s suits. Growing up in Seattle where everyone is casual, I hadn’t known “women’s suits” were a thing – I guess I’d seen them around but not known what they were called – and imagined wearing a men’s suit and tie to an interview every time she mentioned it.

      It is DEFINITELY the tie that pushes a suit into butch/queer/masculine. Without the tie, you read pretty mainstream. If I were the LW I would follow your wife’s formula, it sounds like a great balance for someone who doesn’t want to be read as just “the butch one.”

      1. Anononon*

        I find this odd that you didn’t know that women’s suits were a thing? There’s a section for them in most department stores. Did you just consider that suits were suits (and not different by gender). I could see something like that happening.

        1. doreen*

          I’m going to guess that it might depend on location, age, class and a whole lot of other things. When I was young , I thought references to women wearing “suits” meant something more like a two-piece dress – because in that time and place, I never saw women wearing suits . And I definitely didn’t shop for clothing in department stores- too expensive.

          1. matcha123*

            Ehh…I don’t think so. My mom never wore a suit and I don’t remember the other moms around me growing up wearing them, but I DID see them in sitcoms and in movies. My family was very poor. Please don’t perpetuate myths that low income people or even rural people are some kind of alien species that don’t have access to anything.

      2. mf*

        Totally agree. A nice suit (male or female) + a white dress shirt works on everyone. It’s the tie that makes the outfit look specifically masculine. The LW could simply skip the tie if she wants to go for a more androgynous (rather than masculine) style for interviews.

        I also love a suit with a black or white turtleneck underneath! It’s a very sharp look that works on both masculine & feminine presenting people.

        1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

          I personally do the black turtleneck option myself with suit coats/blazers/cardigans/vests, and I’m very feminine presenting.

      3. DataSci*

        Tie and shoes. For a relatively neutral suit, heels or even women’s styled flats will code it as feminine. Oxfords or wingtips code it masculine. Frankly, if the LW has the luxury of being choosy, go ahead and go for the men’s cut suit and a tie if you want. It’s like offhandedly mentioning a same-sex spouse at an interview (which I did all the time when it was the answer to the “why are you relocating cross-country” question) – if it’s going to be a problem, better to find it out right away.

      4. AB*

        My future wife is butch and I don’t know that I really agree with “tie pushes it into being butch.” I think a lot of people forget that butch isn’t just an aesthetic choice; it’s also a series of behaviors associated with the identity, which is why butches get othered by other women. Because they don’t just read as “women” to straight women. Even sans tie you’re going to notice a difference between a non masculine woman wearing men’s wear and a masculine/butch woman wearing it. Think KD Lang in menswear vs someone like Cate Blanchette. Totally different vibe.

        OP: I understand your concern, and as a partner of a butch I really do think you’ll do yourself a disservice forcing yourself into feminine clothing that makes you feel less you. It sucks getting some of the rejections but it’s not impossible! My butch committed 110% to never wearing feminine clothing again and they have a steady, stable job. Being visible without a choice to not be can be so hard but hiding yourself is sometimes worse.

        Good luck, and I’m sure your version of dapper butch is positively stunning.

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          This is 100% true. It’s more than a dress style. My favourite aunt is butch and it doesn’t matter if you put her in feminine clothes, she still reads as butch (and has always been super successful at work while being butch).

          1. AB*

            Yeah- This is the case for a lot of butches: feminine clothes look and feel like drag, and a lot of it comes down to the palpable discomfort and a lifetime of their friends and family pleading with them to either grow out of their tomboy phase, buying them only women’s cut clothing or “maybe just try this one blouse! it’d look so great on you!”. But the feminine clothes on them just don’t look quite right and they don’t feel right either.

        2. Foof*

          Honestly in interviews i think confidence can often trump conformity so best to go with whatever makes you feel good and snappy. And as allison says also helps weed out places that would be weird about things you like. Sort of like dating?

      5. Sparkles McFadden*

        I disagree on the tie. Decades ago, when I was in my 20’s, I asked my dad if I could have his thin neckties from the 1950s. I thought they looked great, especially with some vintage jackets I had, and wore them often. I might also wear a plain T-shirt under my suit jacket. I never had “frilly” blouses.

        Fashion is for personal expression.

    4. Anhaga*

      This is my usual go-to even though I’m comfortable in more feminine-marked clothing–so much of women’s “formal” office is just uncomfortable to me. I hate wearing tailored skirts and such because I’m also expected to wear pantyhose or tights, so I always default to nice slacks and a button-down type shirt when I need to be formal office. Which, thankfully, is never in the industry I’m in now (the ability to wear comfy clothing is a real benefit of start-up culture).

    5. another dyke*

      I too agree with the suit (men’s or women’s), shirt, no tie advice. Assuming that OP has a short haircut she should also get her hair cut before the interviews if possible. It is a confidence boost :)

      I disagree that interviewers will not bat an eye about how she looks. I work in an industry that is known for being liberal, and have interviewed in a variety of liberal cities, and interviewers do still obviously take notice of my appearance. It’s not in a negative way, but they go out of their way to bring up that the employer/location is friendly on LGBT issues, etc., and in less formal settings like lunches, they also sometimes comment on my clothes/shoes. People do notice and communicate that they notice, even if they’re not being homophobic about it.

      1. allathian*

        As long as they’re not being homophobic about it, just the fact that they will notice is presumably fine? And if you’re out as gay, surely knowing that they’re LGBT+ friendly without having to ask about it directly is a bonus if anything?

    6. NRG*

      I am a cis straight woman, and I wear men’s suits ( when suits are expected) because they fit me better than women’s suits. I’m not particularly masculine in build, I just don’t have much of a waist. I have been fortunate to find items that need minimal alteration ( thanks genetics!). I’ll wear either a women’s top or men’s, depending on whether I like it. I’ve only ever had one person comment about it, and I’m in a somewhat conservative area. I would go with what makes you feel more comfortable and confident, as I’ve found that generally helps performance under pressure.
      I recommend tailoring for everyone, by the way. It can make a much less expensive suit look really good.

      1. traffic_spiral*

        Yeah, I was just thinking, she’s more likely to be judged for wearing an ill-fitting suit than a “men’s suit.” Also, as someone above said, Butch is more than clothes, it’s a presentation, and frankly wearing a blouse isn’t going to change that – it’ll just make OP feel awkward (and probably look awkward).

        Just have a well-fitting suit, OP, tie or no tie, and you’ll be fine.

      2. Momma Bear*

        I get all my formal workwear tailored – it does make a difference! Suits with pants are very common here – I haven’t interviewed/been interviewed in a skirt in about a decade. I’d leave the tie off and opt for a button down shirt and whatever suit OP thinks fits well/feels confident in.

    7. Anax*

      Honestly, I would suggest an unobtrusive pin at the lapel or breast pocket with either pronouns (she/hers), or a lesbian flag. An appropriately businesslike enamel pin should be pretty easy to find on Etsy these days.

      I’m a trans man in a similar boat, as I like to wear quite feminine menswear and have a slightly androgynous name, so I feel the pain.

      (Though I admit, sometimes I curse Evan Rachel Wood’s name, as she seems to be the only reason people think my name – Evan – might be a woman’s, goodness sake.)

  3. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    Wear the clothes that help you feel like the competent woman you are! Anyone who’d be put off by your outfit is someone who’d never deserve to have you as an employee.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      We had female consultant who had a very butch haircut and rocked men’s suits that fit her really well. She was super-competent, and her whole look was so impressive, in a good way. I was like “Damn.”

    2. Beth*

      Agreed! OP, if you’re in a reasonably liberal city and not in a super conservative field, wearing a mens’ style suit is probably not going to be an issue for you. I’m too femme to speak from personal experience, but most butches I know have done similarly and been fine. And if it is the deciding factor at a certain company, that would be a huge red flag that they’re not going to like you working there in your normal style after the interview, either. You deserve better than that!

    3. Boo Radley*

      I don’t know if you’re straight, or just live a particularly iconoclastic queer lifestyle (in which case I congratulate and celebrate you) but ducking in and out of the closet is just a prosaic queer survival skill. Avoiding and mitigating discrimination is a practical necessity, which most of us don’t have the privilege of brushing off , in another city or another decade your recommendation would just mean not having a job.

      1. JSPA*

        The recommendation is for a specific (young) person, in what that person states is an “extremely liberal city,” in 2021.

        An increasing number of people grow up never having been closeted (or felt obliged to gender-conform)–not from family, not in school, not in the workplace.

        It can be hard to watch that from outside, because those of us who are older didn’t get to experience that. But the last thing we should do is to tell people that they should feel bad–that they should feel bad about being treated as an equal, or not speak of their experience–because it’s “privilege.”

        The experience of earlier generations have made this possible. Local and statewide nondiscrimination laws have made this possible. Re-interpretation of federal law is making this possible.

        It’s privilege to think that everyone, everywhere, can do this. It’s nothing of the sort, to say that this person, in this place, can completely reasonably expect to live an “out” life.

        And OP, the idea of not having your clothing be “what people talk about” has to do with trying to use your clothing to “be memorable,” in an outré way, or a way that’s not office appropriate. A suit is the epitome of office wear. It’s (by definition) office-appropriate.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          Yes – it is what so many fought for. It can be kind of bittersweet, sure, but as a middle-ager in an extremely liberal city in 2021: God, it makes me so happy when I see younger people just free to live as themselves.

      2. Beth*

        It’s true that ducking in and out of the closet is a survival skill, but I’m not clear on how that’s relevant to this post. OP doesn’t say she can’t do it when she needs to—on the contrary, she’s acknowledging that there are times where survival needs it, and suggesting that she would suck it up and go more femme than usual if necessary.

        But her survival, in the city she’s in and in the decade she’s in, doesn’t demand that. She’s in a place where dressing in a style that’s comfortable for her while interviewing IS a good red flag test; there are enough employers out there who won’t care about masculine presentation that even if one company that excludes her from consideration for being butch, that’s not going to threaten her survival. I think it’s okay to celebrate that and advise her to embrace it.

      3. Judge Judy and Executioner*

        Thank you for the new word to lookup, iconoclastic was new to me.

        As a queer cis very tall woman who likes her hair short, I am occasionally mistaken for transgender. Being married to a cis man seems to further confuse people. As I get more involved in social justice causes and volunteering, I find myself wondering if I just need to wear a giant bisexual pride pin to avoid the “what are you” looks. Honestly this thread is just so helpful to me, as I struggle with confidence in my appearance, and am taking notes on suggestions. My ideal professional attire would be sneakers and a dress, but that just doesn’t scream business. I really hate pants.

        1. kt*

          Hey, just to address the clothing part of your comment, I wore a lot of dresses pre-pandemic not because I’m invested in my femininity but because finding any mass-manufactured professional pants that fit my short, short-waisted, curvy body is an extraordinarily long and painful process. And I totally did wear either Red Wing leather women’s shoes or a dressed up version of running shoes (solid dark color instead of multicolored) with my dresses with leggings, in a corporate environment. (Basically my criteria for most days is that I could walk a mile or do pushups on command without problems with modesty/coverage/fit/comfort — I don’t quite achieve it, but close.) So I encourage you! Do it!

        2. Bobina*

          It absolutely depends on the dress and sneakers – but in my industry (STEM), sneakers and a dress could totally work. For me its things like, wearing good sneakers (not running shoes, but something like classic Adidas all whites) and a fun printed dress. Looks cute, stick a cardigan/blazer on it, and boom – smart enough for the office!

          1. Momma Bear*

            You might also look for shoes like Sketchers Bikers that are sneakery and comfy but work well with dresses. I just about live in flats and have several pairs of Bikers.

  4. Trilby*

    I’m not really getting this question, to be honest. Aren’t plain pantsuits pretty masculine to begin with? I’m very feminine (back in my office days I wore dresses, hose, and heels most days), and to me pantsuits are too masculine for me to feel comfortable in. For suits, I wore skirt suits.

    1. TechWorker*

      A pantsuit can read very masculine or very feminine depending on the cut. A women’s blazer and blouse fitted at the waist still read feminine even if you wear them with trousers rather than a skirt.

      1. Katie A*

        That and half the time the blouse only buttons up halfway and isn’t meant to be tucked in. Ugh!

        1. A lawyer*

          Constantly re-tucking blouses is the bane of my existence while at work, and part of why I have loved working from home.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ll admit to being envious that men’s shirts can have sleeves that are the right length.

        3. Allison Wonderland*

          Yes, I hate that women’s blouses seem to only button up to right above my bra! And the three-quarter sleeves. And I can’t really shop in the men’s section, because it will either be too tight in my chest or too big in the shoulders. Why can’t we have regular, plain button-down shirts that fit women?

          1. kicking-k*

            Have a look at GFW Clothing, if they sell where you are – that’s their stock-in-trade. (Not sure if I can put a link in here, but it’s Google-able.)

          2. pancakes*

            I’m not sure where you’re encountering 3/4 length sleeves. There are lots of women’s shirts with full-length sleeves right now at Everlane, H&M, Uniqlo, Madewell, and Zara, for starters.

      2. Jake*

        Definitely. My wife wrote a pant suit to her first interview out of college that would’ve looked very very odd on a man because it was clearly cut for an hourglass figure.

    2. Blueberry*

      Women’s pantsuits tend to be nipped in at the waist and the pants are more form fitting than a man’s would be. Also the blouses are more delicate and sometimes frillier. I’ve never worn a skirt suit (and definitely wouldn’t be comfortable) but often the difference is obvious between something styled for men vs. women.

    3. Kate*

      Nope. There are big differences between suits from St. Harridan or the men’s section and a women’s pantsuit from Banana Republic. Big differences in cut, fabric, etc.

      1. AB*

        RIP St Harridan. There are other options but wow did my partner cry sad tears about the loss of building their professional wardrobe with shirts that really fit well.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      A lot of the women’s pantsuits I’ve seen are cut slightly different to be more form-fitting, slim, or tailored. So a women’s cut blazer might be slightly more tailored than a men’s blazer, which I imagine as more boxy. Or a women’s shirt might nip in at the waist and have a slightly different collar.

      1. Clorinda*

        Women’s pants would have to be cut to fit the female form, but you can wear a man’s blazer (maybe, depending on your upper endowments). A woman’s button-down shirt doesn’t have to be made of thin fabric with frills, or you could wear a man’s shirt of appropriate size, again depending on body shape.

        1. Clorinda*

          Edit and add: I am a medium-sized woman, but my shape is such that I could never wear clothing tailored for a man. If OP has the figure to wear true men’s wear and that’s what she likes, she should go for it.

          1. Your Friendly Neighborhood Enby*

            Yeah, you gotta get custom-made if you’re hourglassy and want to wear menswear, which I do – I’m a semi-closeted masc-of-center nonbinary person. For work, I wear men’s jeans, men’s button-down shirts and other niceish clothes from a company that makes custom clothes for your measurements. I use a male profile, and tell them that no, seriously, those are my measurements. They’re super comfortable and look snappy. Also, they all button on the same side. Mens and womens clothes button on opposite sides. Mixing it looks weird even if you can’t put your finger on why.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          I’ve been pretty happy with the trend towards slim-cut pants for men – as a woman I’ve been wearing mostly men’s jeans for the past few years and they’ve been great (pockets! that are big enough to hold things!). The cuts are different, but many women can shop from the men’s section and find things that fit just fine.

          1. Daffy Duck*

            My figure won’t allow for men’s jeans but I’m never going back to women’s sweat pants again. Pockets big enough for my cell phone and fabric that holds up thru many washes have my dollar.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Being tall, I concur. Also men’s hoodies, t-shirts, and pajamas (pockets in the pants and the fly doesn’t bother me at all).

            2. kicking-k*

              Daffy, I wear men’s jeans and I have a very unmasculine shape (big hips and thighs). During the low-rise era, indeed, they were the only jeans that would fit. I buy them with the waist measurement to fit my hips (roughly – a bit of trying on is necessary) and belt them.

              I like big pockets and sturdy denim, both of which are much easier to find in the men’s side.

    5. LondonCaller*

      As a trans non-binary person, who owns clothing from across the board, I feel quite confident in saying that the difference in cut between men and women’s mainstream clothiers is considerable. A mid priced suit from a gents fashion line hangs and feels completely different. It’s not just about perception, often people can’t tell where I bought the suit because gender is so much in the eye of the beholder, but I can tell.

    6. Guacamole Bob*

      There can be a pretty big difference in how a suit is cut between men’s and women’s, even if it’s pants and a jacket. Plus, many women don’t wear a button-down under a suit jacket, and if they do it’s a different material/cut/style than men’s shirts.

    7. Vermonter*

      As a woman who’s owned and worn women’s pantsuits and men’s suits, there’s definitely a difference in the way they fit and the way people responded to me when I was wearing one or the other – even though everything else about my presentation was basically the same (very short haircut, hipster glasses, small earrings, no make-up).

    8. A Library Person*

      Speaking only for myself, I have come to feel very uncomfortable in any clothing with a “women’s cut” to it. Without getting too personal, it messes with my self-image and it feels like I’m projecting something that isn’t true about myself, which might be similar to how you would feel in a women’s pantsuit from what you’ve said here. Think of the difference between men’s and women’s t-shirt cuts, for example; they’re really quite different when you actually wear them.

      1. Wear what makes you comfortable*

        If OP wants to wear a men’s suit that fits, that’s totally fine, and it sounds like she may already have one. For others in a similar situation, depending on your body type it might be challenging to find a men’s suit in your size/price range – a petite, curvy friend of mine who prefers unisex clothing couldn’t find a men’s suit that wouldn’t require lots of tailoring, but told me that she found that descriptors like “boyfriend,” (I know, blech), “straight leg,” “menswear-inspired,” “wide shoulder,” and “military” helped her sort out women’s clothing that would fit her body, her budget, and her style.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          This was my only concern. If a men’s suit fits then do it! But you don’t want to squish into another shape, so have it tailored to fit well no matter the shape of the suit. That’s my mantra regardless of what kind of clothing you have, you want your clothes to fit well. Well fitting clothes make a better impression than poorly fitting wildly expensive designer clothing.
          The most price friendly option would be to find a suit at a resale shop (they have so many!) and find a seamstress/tailor to customize it. Spend the money on the tailoring rather than on the suit. Imagine how confident you’d feel with a wardrobe of custom suits!

          1. kt*

            Yes, I second this if you want to be frugal. Go especially to thrift and resale stores at the edges of rich neighborhoods. I have myself spent $30 on a blazer from a thrift store and then $60 to have it tailored (for me, to make it *more* hourglassy) but that $90 in total is still cheaper than the original $265 for the blazer.

        2. mf*

          Yeah, good point. I’m a cis-woman who’s into fashion and sometimes really enjoys rocking a more androgynous look. But I’m also 5’3″, skinny, and petite, so… masculine cuts with boxy and sharp lines aren’t usually made for people of my size. (I’ve been looking for ages for a slouchy, oversized menswear style suit with strong shoulders…)

          For an interview, I would definitely prioritize fit over style. A suit that doesn’t fit right is just going to look sloppy.

          1. kicking-k*

            I’m also cis, not strongly femme, but hate restrictive clothing. So I’d like to do this too; but I’m also a 36GG with hips to match but narrow shoulders and ribcage. Men’s casual clothes often work just fine on me because sloppy is OK, but I think it would take very clever tailoring to make smarter clothes fit neatly and still look not-femme. And I’m privileged in that I don’t care enough to make that effort. But I feel for those who do care and can’t find what they want.

        3. A Library Person*

          Oh yes, believe me I know this! My own body is incredibly unfriendly to men’s cuts and I’ve more or less given up on formal wear. I’ll take a look at some of the terms you suggested, thanks for this!

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I totally relate to this as well. I don’t like wearing super boxy things (menswear would be like this on me) but I don’t need more emphasis on curves that women’s cut things typically have. I did own a (women’s) pantsuit years ago and really liked it – it made me feel streamlined, not curvy or boxy. I was able to find some women’s blazers like that as well, without the exaggerated nipped waist or princess seams but with the approximate right proportions for sleeve length for me but they still read as feminine and may not be what the OP is looking for long-term.

    9. Ellie*

      It depends…With short hair and a pantsuit you’ll generally be perceived as a lesbian. If you have long hair, people will generally assume you’re straight. (No matter what you’re wearing)

      1. BubbleTea*

        I don’t know that this is entirely true. I’m a long-haired woman who wears skirts and dresses exclusively, and people have correctly pegged me as gay. Admittedly mostly other queer people.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          “I don’t know that this is entirely true. ”

          That’s why Ellie used the word “generally.”

      2. Unfettered scientist*

        In my experience, the hair thing is generally true. Clothing can counteract it to some extent, but long hair (or femme hair in general) usually reads as straight to straight people.

      3. JustEm*

        That has not been my experience at all as a straight woman who has had everything from a pixie cut to very long hair.

      4. Anononon*

        Disagree entirely that it’s as simple as that. There are a lot more (and I’ll admit sometimes subtle) differences in biases/stereotypes than just short hair = lesbian. For instance, my mom has had short hair (above the shoulder, never more than three inches long) for over 25 years, and I don’t think she’s generally perceived as gay.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, I don’t ever remember my mom having long hair – I know she did, there are pictures, but she’s had short hair for 35+ years. (In her and my MIL’s generation, older women having longer hair past about 40 seems to be some sort of taboo, almost, not to mention that as one’s hair thins, whether due to genetics, age, medications, health conditions, etc., shorter hairstyles can be more flattering.)

          But I’m also not a fan of assuming someone’s sexual orientation to people based on their appearance. Of the five other-than-straight people on my team (that I know about), only one of them has an appearance that fits stereotypical conceptions. Most of them simply talk about or introduced me to a same-gender partner.

          1. kicking-k*

            The “no long hair after 40” taboo is still alive, kind of. For my entire adult life I’ve had very long hair and have been fielding comments (mostly from older people) about when I will cut it. I originally thought I would have to do that in order to look professional. Instead I put it up. However, I don’t really ever encounter any other white professional women with hair below their shoulder blades (I do know some with South Asian heritage).

            1. Self Employed*

              My pastor has white hair with bright blue in the back down to about her shoulder blades. Absolutely stunning and you can spot her from the other side of a large rally very easily.

            2. Solana*

              One of my favorite people at a previous job in retail was probably in her sixties, and had beautiful long silver hair that she always braided and twisted into a bun with hairsticks. I’m turning 37 this year and have long hair to my hips that I have no intention of chopping off. (I work with lab animals and have to put mine in a bun to fit under a hair bonnet, but I keep a lovely supply of hairsticks in my locker.) I’ve always felt like a fantasy princess or that I just stepped out of a videogame, and it helps keep me warm in winter!

              1. DarnTheMan*

                The woman who ran the camp I went to growing up always gave me so much hair envy; she must have been in her late 50s or 60s but she had gorgeous red henna’d hair that went down to her mid-back. Normally she wore it in a braided crown around her head but as a kid I especially loved her wash days because she’d come to camp with it in this long flowing red sheet down her back.

      5. Bree*

        This is really, really, really dependent on where you live though. Like, I deliberately cut my hair short 8 years ago so people would stop assuming I’m straight so I get when you’re coming from. But I think things have really changed since then – at least in my urban, liberal area – especially with queer and hipster styles moving closer together. Considering growing my hair out!

      6. mf*

        Over the last 15 year, I’ve had everything from long hair to bobs to short pixies, and I would say the short hair = lesbian assumption is true but is becoming less prominent. @Bree is right that it’s dependent on where you live–short hair in NYC reads differently than in a small town in Idaho.

        It also matters a lot whether your face reads as very feminine and the choices you make with the rest of your clothes/jewelry/makeup. My tastes tend towards high fashion (lots of black, graphic makeup, high heels), so even with a super short cut, I don’t get mistaken for being a lesbian. I’m sure it would be different if my style was more relaxed or casual.

        1. Ellie*

          I’m a lesbian living in Seattle with long hair and (straight) people constantly assume I’m straight. Even with a caribeener clipped to my cargo pants belt loop. *shrug* just my experience

      7. Ari*

        This has been true of my experience. As soon as I cut my hair to even shoulder length, I got lots of questions about if I was…”you know…[whispers and looks over the shoulder] a lesbian.” It only amplified when I went even shorter later on.

        It may be vary by region, but I think it’s more likely to occur in smaller subcultures where homophobia is rampant. For example, I’m from a particularly insular immigrant and deeply religious community where being gay is still a problem. (Not to stereotype either of those groups generally — it’s just true of my particular community)

      8. KuklaRed*

        I do not agree with this at all. For 20 years I wore my hair very short and I mostly wore pantsuits because I was in IT and it is difficult to pull cable through ceilings while wearing heels and skirts and pantyhose. No one has ever thought I was a lesbian just because I had short hair and wore pants. I think this idea went out with mullets and shoulder pads.

      9. allathian*

        I’ve only experienced this for a short time in my freshman year at college when I had a buzz cut. At the time I also mostly wore bootcut jeans, Doc Martens boots, and lumberjack shirts.

        A pixie cut can be very feminine.

    10. MK*

      I would agree, with the exception of the tie. A pantsuit with a plain shirt underneath has been long established as acceptable professional attire for women (it even carries an unconscious, possibly unfair, message that you are a no-nonsense, no frills person, focused on professionalism and work, I think). But a tie does tip things over to “butch”, unless worn with an otherwise feminine outfit.

      1. Managing to Get By*

        I was thinking without the tie also, but not because it would be too masculine but rather because, at least in my region and industry, it seems odd to wear a tie. Slacks, button up shirt with no tie and a jacket seems to be standard attire for men now days, and not out of place for women. Women will often do a frillier blouse or maybe a cardigan instead of jacket but it wouldn’t seem out of place for a woman to show up with a more tailored button up shirt and a jacket.

    11. raincoaster*

      Women’s suits are a lot more body-conscious than men’s suits generally, and there was also mention of a tie.

    12. Chilipepper*

      But what do you wear with a suit? A blouse, a simple white button up and tie, a t-shirt for a less formal vibe? What jewelry, super feminine, plain? There is a lot to figure out if you are just getting started.

      1. Clorinda*

        Well, if you’re a woman going for the men’s-wear look but concerned about going too far, you’d wear an oxford shirt, no tie and no jewelry. So you’d leave off all gender markers and simply wear “clothes.”

        1. Chilipepper*

          I meant that in reply to the person who said just wear pantsuits – I felt that was dismissing the OP’s questions. I was trying to raise questions about how to style them that might be what the OP meant.

    13. Spotted Kitty*

      I’m rewatching “The Office” right now, and the episode where Michael wore a woman’s pantsuit by accident, everyone spotted it right away. The jacket had darts and there were no pockets on the pants.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Yes, my son regularly buys both men’s and women’s shirts, blouses, tee shirts, blazers, sweaters and has done since high school. His dad can’t tell the difference lol but I can. They button differently, cut and tailoring is different, different drape, different embellishment…

        1. Mayflower*

          Did it look more obvious on TV? On my laptop screen, I couldn’t tell, frankly. It just looked like any cheap, ill-fitting man’s suit. If it weren’t for the fuschia lining and the brand name, I wouldn’t know!

          1. TechWorker*

            Same honestly it just looks like it doesn’t fit great but no way would I be like ‘yes definitely women’s suit’

      2. biobotb*

        This reminds me of a conversation I had in which a male friend told me about a jacket he’d bought. He really liked it, but the buttons were on the wrong side!

    14. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      As said above women’s pant suits are almost always a different style than men’s pant suits. In your shoes I’d buy a men’s suit and have it tailored to fit my body. (Not adding darts or whatever, just be me-shaped, which is also what men do when they buy a suit.) I’d wear it with a similarly tailored men’s dress shirt, and narrow to medium tie. (Narrow for a more modern look.)
      Add unisex dress shoes with a matching belt and you’re in business. Optionally you could wear earrings or a bracelet.
      This would be pricey, but worth it. You’d only need one suit and it wouldn’t go out of style.

    15. Grades White Collar Homework*

      @Trilby – Just take a quick peek at Vice President Harris when she’s next to Biden. Try to imagine Biden in her top-of-the-hip length jacket and flared pants. You’ll notice the difference immediately.

    16. JSPA*

      There’s a difference between “severe” and “butch.” presumably, OP isn’t looking for “the no-nonsense end of the feminine spectrum,” but for a (more relaxed, more comfortable) men’s suit. Including having the zipper and buttons the right way around, for what feels normal and comfortable to them.

    1. Anhaga*

      The comment about the shoes in that is cracking me up: “wtf, women’s shoes [even the flats!] are dangerous.”

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      That is great.

      Perhaps a little off-topic for this discussion piece, but the part about being comfortable is so important. I’d urge anyone job hunting who expects to need to “dress up” for interview to start wearing interview-level clothes, or close to them, from time to time just as a habit. You’ll be so much more at ease when you really need to dress that way.

    3. A Genuine Scientician*

      In most of academia, the primary advice for dressing for the job interview is:

      “It’s better if they don’t even notice what you’re wearing.”

      I’m at a giant midwestern research university, and at least in my field (Biology), people would be more likely to notice and think it’s weird if a candidate shows up in a formal suit in the first place than if they’re in clothing that’s more typically coded for a different gender. (Though, I suspect people would be more likely to remark on a man wearing traditionally women’s clothing than a woman wearing traditionally men’s clothing). I know several academics who had to buy suits when they got married because they previously didn’t own one, including for job interviews.

      Academia is its own weird beast about a lot of things, but most people genuinely not caring what you’re wearing so long as it covers the important bits and isn’t a safety concern is one thing it does have going for it.

      (That being said, I did have one senior faculty member who apparently complained that I wasn’t as nicely dressed as the other finalists for my current job, and he felt it showed I didn’t take things seriously. I wore dress slacks and a nice sweater, but also (black) athletic shoes because….I was doing a teaching demonstration in a laboratory, where I’d be working with glassware, open flames, and a neurotoxin as part of the interview. The chair told me that everyone else disagreed with that complaint, but that it was raised.)

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          He also complained that I answered questions too quickly during my interviewed, and that this indicated I was not a reflective person, and would therefore be rigid and difficult to work with.

          They were questions like “Tell us about a time when you….” “..disagreed with a supervisor’s decision” / “….worked with a student from a very different background from yours” / “…formed an impression of a student that later turned out to be incorrect” / etc. I answered relatively quickly because they were really obvious questions to be asked in the context of a teaching post, and I had prepared for them.

          The rest of the committee found my answers well thought-out and felt they more accurately demonstrated preparation.

          To be fair, I wasn’t told specifically that it was this one particular person who said these things. It’s more that I know all the people on the committee, and can only imagine one of them saying any of these.

      1. Solana*

        (Laughs) I do, too. I interviewed for my job with lab animals in a nice blouse, slacks, black flats that are strictly ‘job interview’ shoes and my mom’s blazer. I hadn’t mastered buns yet so had my hair in a ponytail decorated with simple hairsticks and simple (fake) pearl earrings.
        My interviewers wore jeans and T-shirts.
        Since we wear scrubs and I still keep a pair of work shoes in my locker, (as I don’t want to wear shoes at home that I wear in biohazard) no one cares what we wear before we change or what colors of hair we have (if any).

      2. ErinWV*

        Comfortable shoes at least are a must for interview days in academia–you will be running around all day. I’ve scheduled a bajillion of them and we almost always include a full campus tour as part of it. (We don’t have a huge campus or anything, but stiletto heels would be a huge mistake.)

        We once had a woman interview for a position and during one of the sit-down portions she kicked her shoes off and put her feet up on a chair. The committee…did not like that. Much better if she’d just worn tennis shoes or flats. (She didn’t get hired, but for the record they had a lot of other problems with her.)

  5. Goldenrod*

    I agree with Alison – I can’t see this being an issue in a liberal city. I live in Seattle and TONS of women in my workplace dress in a typically masculine way. Some are lesbians and others are straight women who simply prefer to wear pants and a more natural look. Women are definitely not expected to wear dresses or high heels or makeup if they don’t care to.

    1. Smithy*

      I’m in DC, which while a liberal city is often known for having more conservative professional dress codes. At least within the nonprofit scene, I have worked with a number of women at all different levels of seniority who adopt a range of more masculine clothing. Particularly in more coastal liberal cities, I really don’t see this being a broad barrier.

      I will also add that while I adopt more traditional feminine dress – I do not wear make-up to work and have never worn it while interviewing. It’s possible this has made some job searches longer or more of a struggle, but it’s also meant that I’ve never had a job and then felt pressured to adopt a style of dress (aka make up) that I do not want. It’s always easier to say this while you’re hired and I’m not making a direct comparison between potential discrimination towards no make-up and masculine dress, but this is a point of personal comfort that I would personally say I have found worth it.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Also in DC and in a conservative, politically-adjacent industry, and a men’s cut suit would not be a thing at all at my org. If the outfit is the right size, well-fitting, and of the appropriate formality, it’s fine. A men’s tie might raise some eyebrows with the super-uptight but would not be disqualifying (or, really, even noteworthy) for me, our HR (who enforce dress code), or any of my direct-report supervisors.

        1. Ana Gram*

          This. I don’t want to diminish the OP’s concerns but I don’t think this is going to stand out as much as she thinks it will.

        2. Elenna*

          I do think the tie is noticable in a way that a well-fitting men’s suit wouldn’t be – in the sense that I, knowing nothing about fashion, probably wouldn’t even notice a men’s suit versus a woman’s suit. Whereas I’d notice a tie and go “huh, OP likes wearing ties” but it wouldn’t affect my decisions at all, similarly to how I might notice someone wearing a striped suit but it wouldn’t affect anything.

    2. Kaitydidd*

      Yep! I’m in the Seattle area, too, working for state government in a typically male dominated, conservative field. I’m not the only out lesbian at work, and at least one of them dresses more soft butch and no one bats an eye other than to wonder where she found such cool shoes. I think in a liberal area you’ll be fine dressing however you’re most comfortable.

  6. zutara*

    Gonna use this an an opportunity to drop some links to nonbinary business apparel shops:
    Wildfang (wildfang.com)
    Peau De Loup (peaudeloup.com)
    Kirrin Finch (kirrinfinch.com)

    1. CoveredInBees*

      Thanks! I’m not NB, but have difficulty buying clothes intended for masculine bodies.

      1. TurkeyLurkey*

        I keep an alert for ThredUp (second-hand) when they get Wildfang things in my size. I recently scored on a great deal for Wildfang trousers there!

    2. Initial B (they/them)*

      Thank you so much for these! Finding business clothes that’ll fit me in or out of a binder (AFAB NB) is terrible. Along a similar vein, I can recommend Tomboy Toes for “menswear” style shoes for people with smaller feet- their boots are great :)

      1. pancakes*

        I’m not seeing quality here – there’s no pattern matching at the seams on the plaids. Manufacturers do that to cut costs.

    3. AutolycusinExile*

      I also recommend Dapper Boi (dapperboi.com), particularly for larger people (height and/or weight) or people with substantial curves. They don’t quite do formalwear, I’d say, but business casual for sure. You should make sure you understand their business model and lead times before you order, but the size range is XXS-4XL and they’re good quality.

    4. cryptid*

      I had huge huge huge success with Indochino for a custom suit. I’m a short, chubby afab nb person who’s had top surgery – finding ANY suits off the rack that even approximately fit is impossible. I had a suit made for my wedding for a pretty reasonable price (for a custom suit) – much less than the competitors – and they were super friendly and helpful even though I’m clearly not their target clientel. Other friends (afab and otherwise) have had similarly great experiences. They also custom made a shirt for me as part of it and idk how I’m supposed to go back to a regular shirt that fits so poorly! Strong recommend.

    5. Saassy*

      JUST came to recommend these ha. My sister’s in this position – presents as pretty butch, was interviewing for the first time (and now dressing for her first real 9-5 as a lawyer!!) She’s had a lot of fun, after the initial anxiety, finding shirting and suits that work for her the last two years. Honestly I’ve enjoyed shopping with her/for gifts too. Peau de Loup quality is *gorgeous* and I’m getting her a Wildfang blazer as a bar call surprise – just ordered it.

      Kirrin Finch is new to me so thank you! Birthday present sorted.

  7. Chilipepper*

    Unless it is a very formal place (law – you need a suit) or very informal (IT – khakis and a sweater maybe) I think anything clean and generally well fitting is perfectly fine.
    I considered CIS and I don’t like or own traditional “interview clothing” and I was just shopping online for something I could wear as I am job hunting right now. I have black pants. I got a few simple black t-shirts (its a hot climate) and a black and white jacket (banana republic boucle jacket) to wear over it. I don’t know if that suits your style but it works for me.

    I won’t wear a blouse or panty hose. Just no.

    1. Llama Llama*

      I think it’s funny you think khakis and a sweater is “very informal”. I know it varies a lot with industry and region but in the Vermont non-profit world work clothes – especially for those masculine presenting- are like clean carhartts and flannel button downs. We are regularly a jeans and t-shirts org. I have worn (nice clean) flip flops of work. It’s a little different for the women who are at the top of the org but I think that has more to do with their preferences. And even then think jeans and button down oxfords and sweaters.

      1. Chilipepper*

        I forget about jeans because I find them incredibly uncomfortable and they are not allowed at my org.
        Also, I have no idea what carhartts are (Imma google it right now) and I am in a hot climate, no one wears flannels ever!

        1. Self Employed*

          Carhartts are work pants (and the unofficial uniform of the Forestry/Fisheries/Wildlife departments at Humboldt State University) that are not baggy like cargo pants but have more pockets than jeans and are heavier weight than khakis. Some of them have an overlay of the same fabric on the fronts of the thighs so that can wear through but the pants won’t have holes (my corduroys always go bald there so I think that’s a good feature). They may be a twill fabric similar to denim but typically come in earth tones instead of indigo. A friend of mine in the Math department was considering getting some as “dressier than jeans” and wasn’t familiar with their popularity in outdoor jobs. You can sometimes buy them at big hardware stores so I presume contractors like them.

  8. A Library Person*

    Being in a similar situation (I’m an AFAB person who is *intensely* uncomfortable in feminine-coded attire), I can also say that interviewing in clothing you actually feel comfortable in could also give you a subtle confidence boost, or at least not take away from your self-confidence. I’ve gone to interviews in more feminine clothing (and I’m talking a feminine-cut jacket here, not even a skirt or something like that) where I spent too much of my time worrying about how I looked and feeling horribly uncomfortable. Don’t underestimate how important it is to give yourself a little leg up on interview day, and good luck!

    1. Smithy*

      Reading this – I would also stress that this is equally good advice for women who are uncomfortable in more traditionally recommended “women’s interview attire”. As a woman with a larger bust, button down shirt and suit jackets/blazers are a total misery for me. I never wear them in my normal professional life, so finding them for an interview has always felt like a last minute agony and investment – and then again, worrying how I look, fidgeting,etc.

      It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve felt more comfortable owning my regular professional style in interviews – and it’s felt like an obvious lightbulb went off.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Can you share more? Between getting older, a year under Covid, and my bust getting larger with weight gain (was a C-cup right after I’d weaned my youngest 20-mumble years ago, currently a G-cup in sports bras and an H-cup in dress bras), I gravitated to athletic clothing, which is now what the majority of my wardrobe is; and to figure out a way to make that style work as interview clothing would be amazing. I am also taller than average and only ever wore heels to special occasions once a year, if that. Flats or sneakers otherwise. Even in the past when I dressed more feminine overall, I was always miserable in a suit and heels (even the 2-3 inch “professional” ones!) It probably affected my interview performance, because I remember feeling ridiculously physically uncomfortable each time I wore an interview outfit. Would be happy to hear alternative suggestions (assuming this won’t be offtopic, because I don’t know how much this relates to OP’s dress style).

        1. Mimi*

          From what you say this probably isn’t your style, but for myself I’ve started wearing a long, deep-colored blouse-cut eShakti dress (LOTS of buttons to keep the chest closed) that I did custom measurements for, plus a nice black blazer, long socks, and cute leather flats that tie. It’s classy, I feel good, and all of the pieces except the blazer are part of my usual wardrobe but just enough dressy to give me that feeling-fancy vibe.

        2. kt*

          I’d be happy wearing a sweater that looks “rich” plus more-formal pants to the fanciest of interviews, as a woman. I’m in corporate tech/biz spheres, not finance or sales, so it’s not like other women I’m compared against in interviews generally dress significantly better or in a more feminine manner. We’re all nerds so I think we’ve forced a bit more latitude.

        3. FoolishFox*

          I interview in oxfords, black pants, a dressy tank blouse, and a non-traditional cut black blazer. Gives the idea of a suit, but the blazer isn’t designed to close and so is more flattering on my bust. No heels.

          1. FoolishFox*

            Oh, and I never ever wear a button-up type blouse. I’ve never found one that fit right and I don’t like the look enough to try anymore.

            1. kt*

              Yeah, that’s why I do knit shirt & blazer or sweater, depending on the weather; the only type of buttoning shirt I enjoy is oversized silk, for summer only, and it’s too weird for most interviews. Never have found a button-up blouse without gapping that doesn’t make me look like I stepped out of an 80s advertisement.

        4. Anon H cup*

          As someone else with large boobs, I feel most confident in smart, very slightly cropped trousers (I have some patterned ones and some checked ones, but basically anything other than black) and a looser fitting (often black) top/non button up blouse I can tuck in. With a cardigan if it’s freezing (still poss need to size up to fit the boobs, but if you can find a slightly stretchy one you can normally make it look smart). Maybe it’s psychological, but that makes me feel like I’m drawing attention away from boobs and having a tucked in loose shirt means a) not worrying about buttons coming loose and b) not having the shirt hang off my boobs and make me look bigger than I am.

        5. kicking-k*

          I’m in a similar place (and bust size)… and can’t wear heels because of problem feet. I have a standard work outfit of either a swingy tunic-style jersey dress with a cardigan, worn over leggings, which is about as comfy as athletic wear, or a loose-ish shirt dress, belted. I find a shirt dress behaves better than a button-down shirt on my body – nothing to tuck in, and the belt gives it some shape without it having to fit closely across the bust. My job requires me to move around a bit so nothing too confining will work. Black leggings worn with flat boots don’t look very different from black opaque tights but are comfier for me (and you can wear socks under the boots – I hate to have cold feet). (Many of my work dresses come from the English company Seasalt.)

          I haven’t interviewed wearing this, I admit. I do own a pantsuit for when I need to take it up a notch, but I wear a flowy but plain non-button-down shirt in a darkish colour under an unbuttoned jacket, and I think that de-emphasises the chest a bit. (Not that one always wants to, but I don’t want to be worrying about what my cleavage may be doing during my interview.)

        6. DarnTheMan*

          I hate heels, barring a few block-heeled boots, so as well as echoing everyone else’s suggestions about the dressy non-button up tops (I’m not busty and I still prefer to wear non-button shirts to interviews because then I’m not anxious about the front gapping), I would also plug both the Cole Haan oxfords (especially the Originalgrand model because while the uppers look exactly like oxfords, the sole is super comfy and closer to a sneaker) and Sam Edelman’s Lior/Loraine loafers, which come in a lot of dressy but fun materials (I personally have them in a gold faux crocodile and purple and gold tapestry – as well as plain black.)

    2. Cedarthea*

      I am AFAB, cis and fat. I find so much of the RTW women’s clothing is so hyper-feminine it can be difficult for me who prefers minimalist/simple women’s cuts but everything at Torrid is cutesy or has unnecessary prints, frills etc.

      Over lockdown I have streamlined my style, and started sewing my own clothes. The response in my workplace has been amazing. Because I feel better in my clothes I am more confident and it is showing to others.

      I am technically less dressed up (slim black jeans, tshirts and cardigans with Blundstones rather than trousers and blouses with ballet style flats) but my boss has commented on how nicely dressed I’ve been.

      I hope OP has the confidence to rock their style and that their future employer knows they should look beyond the clothes and know that we all work better when we feel comfortable and confident.

      1. Salamander*

        I also sew a lot of my clothes, and the ability to have clothes that actually fit is a huge confidence booster…never mind the ability to install pockets EVERYWHERE.

        1. Media Monkey*

          sewing your own clothes is the best! i’m tall and having waist seams that actually sit on my waist or trousers that i don’t need to size up because they actually do up around my waist rather than my hips is amazing! plus also POCKETS

    3. LilyP*

      Came here to say the same thing. I absolutely think that being distracted, nervous, uncomfortable, fidgety, etc because you’re wearing clothes (or makeup) that you hate and aren’t used to would be worse for your overall impression than masculine clothes.

      Also keep in mind that for people who don’t know about your gender context young candidate + visibly uncomfortable in normal professional clothing will likely read as immature or inexperienced with office norms.

    4. Mimi*

      Back when we went to offices, I saw a candidate come through who had a feminine-coded name who wore a men’s-cut suit with a waistcoat (maybe a tie too? can’t remember). I would have guessed they ID’d as female but wasn’t sure. They looked confident and fab and utterly professional. (Also extremely queer, but as Alison said, if you have the luxury to screen out companies where that won’t be okay, you’ll probably be happier doing so.) This was in Boston. No one batted an eye.

    5. old curmudgeon*

      I strongly agree that feeling comfortable enough to be confident is absolutely critical for an interview. When one of my kids got headhunted by a particular employer, they and their spouse spent quite some time putting together exactly the right ensemble that accurately and vividly reflected their personality and values. It was, ah, NOT exactly the traditional outfit for the kid’s apparent gender. The kid walked into the office (pre-pandemic, of course) with head held high, shoulders back, and a “no-fox-given” attitude, nailed the interview and is very happily continuing to upend gender-based expectations as they rise through the ranks of the company.

      The other comment I’d make would be that when you apply to a company, maybe do a bit of browsing around the company’s website to see if they post photos of employees, or photos of recent events at the company. You might be able to pick up clues there about whether they are rigid or relaxed about clothing and gender presentation.

      Good luck to you – and come back to share your success story soon!

    6. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “I can also say that interviewing in clothing you actually feel comfortable in could also give you a subtle confidence boost, or at least not take away from your self-confidence. ”

      THIS. And it applies to everyone or almost everyone.

    7. Drago Cucina*

      Agreed. Comfort is a big plus. I cannot wear men’s clothing because of my body type, but I often wear men’s style suits. It may be with a very nice t-shirt rather than a blouse (they feel like straight jackets to me). It’s my style while being interview appropriate.
      I live in the south and I don’t know anyone in library world or contractor/federal employment that would really care about a woman wearing a man’s suit. The big thing is being neat and comfortable. Presenting who “you” really are in the work environment. I’m a cis-gendered woman who has extremely short hair (I used to get my hair cut a a local barber’s). The only thing I do different is make sure my roots are looking raggedy.

  9. Katie A*

    Yes! Wear what you feel comfortable in! I, like you, am not comfortable in feminine clothing and was told by someone who knew fashion that a button down and bow tie with a vest would be similar to a man’s coat and tie. So that’s what I wore – a nice pair of pants, button down shirt, polished belt and shoes, plus a vest and bow tie. I felt dapper, it showed in my confidence during the interview, AND it got me my teaching job!
    Rock on!!

    1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

      I wouldn’t have gone with the bow tie myself, but the rest of the outfit sounds great! (And I do on occasion wear vests and button downs with loafers when “dressing up,” and have gotten many compliments on my look.)

      1. Katie A*

        I don’t do vest and bow tie on the daily anymore, but because I need SOMETHING to get me through the last few weeks of school, I instituted “Bow Tie Mondays” for myself from now until the end of the year. Button down, rolled to the elbows, khakis, Doc Martens and casual bow tie. Fun times were had by all!

        1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

          Ha! You just reminded me to finish checking out the Doc Martens I have in my cart on DSW.

  10. A lawyer*

    I’m in LA, have met a number of women attorneys who wear non-feminine (I don’t know if that’s the right word, the jackets don’t have that “hourglass” tailoring that women’s suits usually have and the pants are looser fit) suits to court, and I presume to their offices. Have seen a few women with ties too. I’ve never heard anyone comment negatively. As long as things fit you correctly, it looks perfectly professional.

  11. Anon and on and on*

    Best of luck in putting together your interview outfit! As an butch lesbian who’s been in the workforce for a while, it took a bit for me to find something I could comfortably be myself in, but that didn’t feel too out of step with what expectations might be for interviewing. It took some negotiation with myself, but I landed on a blazer, slacks combo that I could dress up or down with a collared shirt or nice t-shirt, depending on the level of the interview I was in. Also, men’s shoes were a must. Not only are they more comfortable, but the only time I wore women’s flats, the difference in heel shape led to me rolling an ankle on my way in to the final interview. What worked best for me was having clothing that looked fitted to my body, but more reminiscent of what the guys would have on.

    I hope this helps! My biggest piece of advice is to wear something that is comfortable, both physically and mentally/emotionally.

  12. Cat Tree*

    You said you’ve never had an interview before, so I suspect you’re overthinking it. And that’s perfectly normal!

    I’ve been on the other side a few times now, where I’m part of the hiring team. Unless someone is wearing something especially odd, I’m not sure I would even notice it. If you’re planning to wear a tie, that might be uncommon enough for me to notice but I don’t think it would stick in my mind after the fact. Pants, flat shoes/boots, and cotton button down shirts are completely neutral now.

    That said, of course there are caveats. I don’t get to speak for every hiring manager and I’m sure there are a few oddballs out there who would care. They are the minority, but if you really need a paycheck and don’t have a lot of options you will have to weigh that consideration. Also, I make an active effort to reduce my own bias, but nobody is perfect. I don’t think clothing influences my decision but there is a possibility of subconscious bias. Still, I think you should wear what you like, including a tie if that’s your thing.

    1. KHB*

      Yeah, I agree with all of this. I’ve interviewed a fair number of candidates over the past few years, and I’ll be darned if I could tell you what anybody wore more than five minutes after the fact. I was focusing on what they had to say, not their attire.

      A woman wearing a necktie would be unusual enough that I’d notice it (say, ten minutes after the fact), but I’d like to think it wouldn’t make a whit of difference to my impression of her as a candidate.

    2. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

      If you’re planning to wear a tie, that might be uncommon enough for me to notice but I don’t think it would stick in my mind after the fact.

      I once worked at an insurance company, a place and industry which most people presume is going to be old-fashioned and stuffy when it comes to appearance, and when a new grad came to interview for one of our trainee programs, the fact that he wore a tie was all anybody could talk about. People were like, “Who wears ties to work anymore? Is this still a thing?” Even our executives didn’t wear ties to work – they wore khakis and a nice button down or polo shirt.

    3. LilyP*

      Especially if it’ll be a video interview. I can’t even see what color shirt people are wearing sometimes, let alone how exactly it’s tailored.

      1. DrSalty*

        I just participated in a video interview (as an interviewer) where I suddenly turned black and white because the sun came out and the color correction went wild!

  13. Sophia*

    When I was in business school in California, what I wore was pretty much identical to my male counter parts except no tie (pant suit with white collard shirt). Sometimes I wore a skirt because they were a little easier to get a good fit than pants, but overall it was the same. When I was feeling more casual, I wore a feminine tank top underneath to be more comfortable, but for interviews, I often wore the collard shirt.

    The big difference I recall was that men were cautioned against wearing black suits since black would easily wash them out without any makeup.

    I know a lot of shirts and suits are cut super feminine but plenty of women in my program (including myself) really did wear exactly what the men wore. You might get a slightly raised eyebrow for a tie but I think I can even recall one or two women opting for a tie so it’s not that unusual.

  14. Wear what makes you comfortable*

    Agree – I have seen plenty of women wear a button down shirt with an androgynous cut and a dark pantsuit to interviews, with no one thinking it was at all odd even in the four somewhat-but-not-particularly-liberal cities I have experience in. If wearing a tie is what you want to do, you should absolutely feel free to do so, but if you’re concerned and want to split the difference, you could just leave off the tie. For shoes, if “feminine” shoes aren’t what you want, you could do oxfords or dress loafers with the pantsuit and also raise no questions.

    1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

      Yup, I’m a fan of the Oxford and dress loafers for interviews and just day-to-day office presentation in general.

    2. code monkey*

      This is what I did. I found a nice fitting collared dress shirt and wore a plain black dress pants with comfy black loafers. Not especially feminine clothing. I wore the same thing for several tech interviews up and down the US west coast in my last year of school. Now I mostly wear t-shirts/sweaters with jeans in the office.

  15. West coast interviewer*

    Definitely wear clothes that fit your comfort level in terms of gender! However, do be careful in terms of level of formality since you mention wanting to wear a suit and tie. A suit and tie is appropriate if you’re interviewing in finance in NYC, but is going to read as out of touch if you are interviewing in tech in SF. The old rule of needing to wear a suit to every interview can end up hurting your chances in some industries.

    1. fish*

      I also find that women in menswear get a lot more latitude than men in menswear (no one really knows how to categorize us).

      So, I could get away with a suit without a tie where a man probably couldn’t. This is often my preferred look, since I find the tie makes a GENDER STATEMENT, which is not always what I want to do. (The suit does too, obvs, but somehow less of an all-caps statement.)

    2. nonegiven*

      My son interviewed for SRE, in person, years ago, with a household name. He was specifically told not to wear a suit.

    3. Llama Llama*

      When I was finishing college my aunt and mother insisted that they buy me two skirt suits “for job interviews” now, not only were times changing but I knew the fields I was going into probably wouldn’t require a suit, even for an interview. I couldn’t convince them not to buy them and so they bought me two beautiful skirt suits that I never wore. Even when I had a “formal office job” I wore slacks or skirts and a blouse or sweater or dresses. I think for most people suits are going the way of the dodo.

      1. code monkey*

        My aunt did the same thing! I wore it once to my very first intern interview, quickly realized it was not appropriate for the jobs I was applying for and never wore them again.

  16. CatCat*

    A former colleague (she/her) dresses in professional masculine clothes and always looks sharp. She shops in the “men’s department” at clothing stores. The key for her polished professional appearance was quality tailoring so the clothes truly fit her well even if they had not been originally designed to fit a petite woman. She has been very successful in her career in a field where professional dress tends to be more conservative (law) living in fairly liberal cities.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, this. OP, the key to success in men’s wear is fit. Based on the information in your letter, I think you’d be fine with a man’s suit, but buy the best quality you can afford and get it tailored so that it fits perfectly.
      This will cost some money up front, but you’ll be able to wear it for years.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I was going to say something similar. One of the best-dressed people I know is a very tall woman who wears clothing that is traditionally considered masculine. Her clothes are impeccably tailored (by the time I met her, they were probably all custom made) and that makes such a difference– not just in look, but in how confident and comfortable she was in her clothes. I always noticed that her style wasn’t feminine but it never occurred to me that she (this individual person) would dress any other way. She is my style icon even if my choices are different.

      Tailoring can sound daunting and expensive, but in a big city you might have more options than you realize. If you can invest in tailoring for a couple of basic pieces, that’s all you need. The pieces themselves don’t have to be of the highest quality.

  17. Stackson*

    I’m a queer female presenting somewhere between androgynous to masculine, and the last time I interviewed, I wore men’s pants and a matching jacket that fit me well, and a men’s dress shirt that I tucked in but left a couple of buttons open and a tank top underneath. It straddled the line between masculine and feminine for me, I felt confident, and I got the job. Once I started, I added a tshirt under the dress shirt and kept the top button open–we’re business casual here. When you land a job and start being known for your work, where you land on the gender spectrum will matter less, but I know that interviews can still feel fraught. Hang in there! There are lots of us out here living our best queer lives, even in conservative southern states. You will be fine! Good luck!

    1. pretzelgirl*

      I have seen this many times and I always feel like the person wearing it look very sharp! Personally I have always thought it was very professional and well put together.

      OP- wear what you are comfortable in!

  18. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    This is what I wear to all interviews. Unless you’re in some formal, super high-powered or fashion-adjacent industry where clothes super matter, I think you can wear pretty much anything that’s professional, clean, and fits and not draw much comment. (Although of course I acknowledge that masculine or masculine-seeming people will still have trouble in many workplaces with feminine clothing, unfortunately.) You can tone down the “butch”-ness if you’re worried, OP, but a unisex style will usually be fine.

    Just for example, I wear a black “suit” (I think it’s a suit, I may have mixed and matched the blazer at some point), a solid colored sleeveless blouse or long-sleeve button-up (depending on the outside temperature), and either loafers or VERY low block heels. Very ugly heels, I hate them. I hate heels. But I can walk in them and they’re comfortable.

    To be less self-conscious, keep in mind that many people are not very fashionable, especially in the formal wear they keep on hand for infrequent interviews, and thus most people who interview regularly (in most regular jobs) don’t spend a ton of time analyzing outfits when they need to be hiring a competent worker. When I was just out of college I had trouble comprehending this because I thought I had to be perfect and give the perfect impression all the time.

  19. cheeky*

    I live in a liberal area, and I would not see this as a problem, and in fact, would think, as Alison notes, this is a good way for the LW to gauge the attitude of the company. If you’re well-dressed for business, regardless of the specific cut and style of the clothes (e.g. a more masculine-cut suit), you should come off as professional.

  20. evad_mail*

    I love the feedback of strategically representing your authentic self in an interview. I’m a man and I always make sure to mention my husband in an interview. It’s less and less likely to be an issue as I mostly work in large liberal cities and in non-profits, but I have in the past run across people who make slight gestures of discomfort when I do this and that’s a red flag for me that this might not be a company where I feel fully free to be myself at work. It’s been super helpful in giving me more information to make my decision.

  21. raincoaster*

    One of the best businesswear columns I ever encountered was in Business in Vancouver, and it was written by a butch lesbian who dressed exclusively in what is called “menswear” and looked amazing in it. I wish I could find those archives online.

    Research the employers in advance and if they’re visibly going to be uncomfortable with that, reconsider whether or not you want to work there at all. A liberal city should be sophisticated enough to allow you to dress in business wear that is standard, regardless of what gender it’s historically associated with.

  22. EngGirl*

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it :)

    I would however take a look around the office while you’re there and see what everyone else is wearing and if it’s a place where you’ll be comfortable wearing what you want in the future! Consider that as part of you interviewing the company. Like if you get there and the interview goes well and every woman you see is wearing a skirt and floral blouse are you going to be comfortable long term, or do you get a vibe that you’re eventually going to be asked to change your look? You shouldn’t have to, and you should be comfortable (within a gender neutral understanding of the dress code) while at work, so make sure you’re not signing up to work for a place that will demand heels and lipstick down the line. Some places might see a masculine outfit and think “ah she’s young and doesn’t understand traditional office norms, but we’ll get her up to speed later” or some other antiquated BS.

  23. Brooke*

    Hi! I totally identify with your question and remember having severe anxiety about this very thing. I think that you should dress as gender non-conforming or butch as you are comfortable with. I used to fear those moments of people judging me negatively for dressing masc. I can tell you from experience that it’s a blessing when it does happen, because it lets me know 1. where people stand with queer/trans stuff 2. that I don’t want to work for or connect with this person. Of course there are moments in life where it’s so upsetting and frustrating. But in the job interview process, your confidence in how you present yourself is a super power !

  24. g*

    When I was in my early 20s, I was surprised to realize how masculine lots of formal women’s businesswear was. I think I’d gotten distorted views by watching cheesy TV shows where female professionals were glammed up. I wonder if that’s what’s going on with this LW, and she’ll be pleasantly surprised when she tries on her first J. Crew suit. (FWIW, I say this as a lesbian who prefers non-feminine clothing.)

  25. Generic Name*

    I say this to put you at ease and not to downplay your trepidation at being judged: butch women (and nonbinary AFAB people) in major liberal cities have been wearing masculine clothing since before you were born. I think it’s pretty mainstream these days, to be honest. And as Alison rightly points out, you really don’t want to work somewhere where someone gets the vapors that a woman is wearing “menswear”.

  26. Nooooppppeee*

    As a femme presenting human, my silver patent leather men’s oxford shoes are my interview good luck charm! Definitely clues people into the gender nonconforming aspect but also I look so dapper and like I tried!

      1. DarnTheMan*

        Not patent (and not the original commenter) but Cole Haan sells both gold and silver women’s oxfords; I have the gold ones and they are some of my favorite shoes.

  27. g*

    One more thing–

    Sure, looking butch might hurt you a little with straight interviewers. But imagine how you’ll be kicking yourself if your interviewer is a short-haired woman with no makeup and a pic of her lesbian cycling club in the background.

  28. Yet the latest in a long string of Anons*

    The last time I was in a chain men’s apparel store with my husband, I got talking to the salesperson who told me that they sell lots of their custom men’s suits to women. Their tailors alter them to fit more like a women’s suit or just to fit a more feminine body with the traditional masculine silhouette, or somewhere in-between. I realize a brand-new custom suit isn’t in the budget for everyone, but if you can find a men’s suit on sale or at a thrift store you can likely have it tailored to be exactly what you’re comfortable with.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’m a woman and never understood why women’s suit jackets and blazers don’t often have inner pockets. They’re practical!

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          Sexism. That’s why. And manufacturers can get away with it – pockets cost money.

          1. Trilby*

            Nah, it’s just that pockets can often ruin a tailored line of something – if you have a beautifully draped dress, you don’t want some brick in a pocket dragging down just one side of it. Women often carry bags with them, so it’s somewhat assumed you’ll have a bag to put all your lumpy stuff in. Or something like this :-) https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O73185/chatelaine/

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              I’ve had a couple of jackets with inner pockets and carried business cards, money, and/or a credit card there. It was nice not dragging a handbag to lunch or all over a networking event.

            2. pleaset cheap rolls*

              What does the drape of a dress have to do with women’s suit jackets and blazers, which is what I was commenting on?

              In any case, the need not put something heavy in the pocket. But may want to have the option of putting in something.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      As a short, apple-shaped woman, I’d have to have a suit tailored whether it were designed for a man or a woman. And at least if you buy a men’s suit you’ll generally get much better quality for the same price.

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      A cheap suit that’s tailored to fit can be awesome. Really, even on the men’s side, most men would be better off spending a little less on the suit to be sure they can afford tailoring.

      I have several suits on the affordable side ($200-300) where I spent $80 on tailoring – and they rock. I have a tuxedo like that and look better than all those guys in rented tuxedos that don’t fit very well.

  29. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I worked at a Fortune 100 company that was traditional and formal in many ways. We interviewed a recent graduate who wore a chartreusey slim-cut suit and no socks. Yes, I mean his hairy ankles on full display in a room full of dark suits and socks worn with wingtips. He was a solid and engaging candidate who had everyone eating out of his hand. He also had done his homework on us and the role. He asked great questions and answered ours directly and professionally. After a couple of interviews and a meet-and-greet with the department Director, we hired him. I’m no longer there but he is, as a Director of a sister department.

    OP, I agree with everyone here who said you should wear the professional interview ensemble that makes you feel like a million dollars, is comfortable, and feels genuine to you. But the confidence you’ll get by preparing for the interview will do you more favors than a designer suit. You got this!

  30. ButchAtWork*

    To the letter writer: I had these same concerns when I started interviewing for professional jobs. It’s nerve-wracking to try to anticipate whether it’s going to be an issue or not.
    As someone’s who’s now been in stereotypical office jobs for the past ten years, most of them in a conservative city and with a generally conservative employer, it’s never been an issue. Dress in the “menswear” that makes you feel confident and be unapologetic about your presentation- Alison’s advice is spot on that you don’t want to work for an employer that’s going to be uncomfortable with it (if you have choices).

  31. Foreign Octopus*

    My brain glitched and I read the sentence as I am very lesbian and uncomfortable[…] and I was in total agreement.

    However, I would say that dressing in clothes you’re most comfortable with will make your interview a better experience for you. You’ll feel more confident in how you’re presenting yourself and not worrying about how the blouse is sitting on your body. When I’m wearing clothes I’m not comfortable in, I’m constantly tugging at them and fidgeting because I’m a) not sure how to wear them and b) not comfortable. So I say embrace your normal clothes and treat it like the everyday normal thing it should be because if someone shunts you into the no pile because of how you present yourself then that’s not a company you want to work at anyway, I think*.

    *This is assuming you have the privilege of being able to screen jobs like this. If you don’t, then however you decide to dress falls to what you think makes the most sense at the time.

    Good luck!

  32. Emby*

    i feel like i could have written this question 7 years ago when i was applying for jobs. i agree with alison completely. the key thing is making sure the clothing fits well– as a short woman with hips, it was hard to find things and i ended up doing some tailoring. i found that slacks, a matching vest, a button down and a tie works best for me (basically a 3 piece suit without the jacket, since that is generally what needs teh most tailoring and is the most expensive to tailor).

  33. Temperance*

    I work in law, and one of my close friends is soft butch in her presentation. She typically wears more masculine-cut women’s clothing, and she’s honestly the most successful out of all of us. It hasn’t held her back at all. (Actual menswear wouldn’t fit her body appropriately, FWIW, but she would probably wear that.)

  34. TotesMaGoats*

    What I teach my students
    1. Wear what you are comfortable in because then you’ll be focused on your interview performance not your hemline.
    2. Wear shoes you are comfortable walking in. Flats. Heels. Loafers. Whatever so long as you didn’t slog through the mud in them, have comfy feet.
    3. Generally speaking, cover your neck to your knees.
    4. Clothes should be clean, pressed and appropriately tailored to your body

    Will this mean you lose out on a job because of how you dress? Possibly but dollars to donuts you would find other reasons things that they also suck about.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      This advice i s good, but I worry that too many guys will dress like slobs by focusing on the comfortable, and think that being comfortable in nicer clothes is a good muscle to train. The “nicer” version of oneself.

      1. twocents*

        But dressing like a slob would mean stopping at #1 and not reading #4. If they can’t even count to four, then they don’t have much hope getting employed anyway.

      2. TotesMaGoats*

        I could edit #1 to say “wear what you are comfortable in that abides with the dress code of the company because…”

        But since most of my students picked it up out of context and from the rest of the lesson, it didn’t need to be said.

  35. SimonTheGreyWarden*

    Re screening employers — when my partner got her current job, she showed up for her interview with one of those sunset-fade style dye jobs and wearing what we call “thrift shop steampunk” (we are steampunk artists). It was a great way to screen because if they didn’t like that, she didn’t want to work there, and she wasn’t desperate to change jobs (just that this was an awesome opportunity).

  36. Elle by the sea*

    I am a (mostly) feminine presenting woman, but most of my jeans, trousers, blazers and jackets are from the men’s department. No one has ever batted an eyelid. I think masculine looking suits and shirts should be fine for the interview – your description makes me think you look really formal and professional. And after all, masculine presence shines right through whatever clothes you are wearing. If you thought you would feel extremely uncomfortable wearing a feminine blouse, don’t wear it. You would want to work for and with people who accept you the way you are. You really wouldn’t want to work with people who judge you for your masculine presentation, I presume. As long as your interview attire is in line with their prescribed dress code, you should be fine.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Mostly femme presenting also however, I’m sitting here at work right now wearing a men’s button down shirt+cable sweater, women’s trousers, and the world’s comfiest men’s business casual shoes.

      LW, please, please wear what you will feel comfortable, confident, and professional in. You will interview so, so much better wearing clothes that feel like they belong on you!

  37. fish*

    Hi, butch dyke here.

    I agree with Alison – if you have the luxury of being a little pickier, it is *great* to show up as very butch to an interview because they will know who you are from the first instant. If you’re hired, they’ll know who you are and you’ll never have to hide. And, you will interview much better if you are comfortable.

    To echo a comment above, I typically interview in what is unambiguously menswear, but not usually a necktie, as that crosses a lot of gender lines in people’s minds and I don’t want people to think I’m a trans man. I find that women in menswear have a lot more latitude on the formal/informal divide than men in menswear.

    Lastly — from one butch to another — I know it’s not always easy out there, but you got this far by being you. Hold your head high and knock their socks off!

    1. vlookup*

      Wearing a tie to, say, a wedding feels awesome to me but wearing one in a professional setting has always seemed strictly off-limits and I’ve never been quite sure why. You’re totally right about it crossing gender lines in a more dramatic way than other men’s clothing.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and it’s really odd. Because young girls wearing neckties is standard stuff in some parts of the world. I wore a tie for the year I went to school in the UK and had to wear a uniform. Unfortunately I also had to wear a skirt, and that put me off skirts to the point that I got my first feminine pantsuit when I was 15, to wear at a wedding. I did wear a dress for prom and for my Master’s graduation, and a skirt suit for my high school graduation (no gowns here).

  38. Sociology rocks*

    So glad this question was posted as a fellow masculinely dressing human, but this reminded me of a related question, what exactly is appropriate everyday masculine dress for a range of workplaces, cause I’ve really got no clue or sold reference point. Also I’m rather short, and am permanently stuck in kids size shoes of either gender, so there’s also the question of what kids clothing makes for appropriate buisnessswear

    1. fish*

      Ah! Hello fellow child-size-men’s-shoe-wearer! I have extensive research to share.

      1. There are, or used to be, a number of companies catering to butches and kin, making men’s-style shoes in small sizes (Tomboy Toes was one). However, I found the quality to be poor

      2. If you can splurge, Allen Edmonds makes *beautiful* shoes in small sizes. Thorogood makes nice boots in small sizes.

      3. Rockports and Ecco make more moderately priced shoes in small sizes.

      4. There are also kids shoes, but for me at least, these are typically very uncomfortable — my foot is small, but not the same shape as a kid’s. However, extensive research reveals that J. Crew makes the most adult-quality kids’ dress shoes. Others seem pretty designed to be worn to two weddings and then abandoned.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        My wife wore kids J. Crew leather oxfords at our wedding and they were great quality. They’re still her go-to for formalwear years later…

    2. fish*

      As for the rest of how to dress, I think this varies by each office’s formality and other norms. However, I typically look to the office’s other menswear-wearers (i.e., pretty much, the men) as a template, then adjust for my own style and comfort.

    3. Emby*

      i have a variety of kid’s shoes for work (well, back when work required shoes. or pants). i had some oxfords for more formal, and some more like boat shoes for business casual. i tended to buy them at payless (RIP) and dsw–there are some very expensive shoes out there, but i would go for the cheaper ones.

      for clothing, i did a lot of online shopping to get pants sizes that worked. i focused on waist/hips, and then shortened them as needed (always needed). shirts was a lot of hit-or-miss. i’ve tried many, many different brands of button downs, and when i find one that fits well, i buy 5 or 6 of them in different colors. i’ve found that button downs generally work for most work environments, though during teh summer i’m a fan of polos.

      also, sociology does rock.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Re: shortening/hemming–if you’re on a budget, but need a suit, I’ve found that dry cleaner/tailors will shorten the sleeves of a blazer and resew the button(s) by the wrist. It’s not the same as a custom job, because there’s typically an open flap by the wrist that’s eliminated in the hem, but no one will notice. For me, a simple/plain women’s suit + hemming the pants and sleeves provides me with a good fit at a reasonable price.

    4. Katie A*

      All good advice in the replies to you so far! As for everyday where, I tend to just do khakis and a button down with the sleeves rolled to the elbows and an open collar. If it’s cooler, I’ll sometimes add an open vest if I’m feeling snazzy! For shoes, I do Doc Martens or another boot of that type. I’m a high school teacher if that helps narrow down my work field.

  39. Sarra N. Dipity*

    I just wanted to thank Alison and the OP for surfacing this issue.
    I’m an androgynous-presenting queer non-binary AFAB individual, who wears non-feminine womenswear, keeps my hair short, and is about to start a serious job search.

    I appreciate the advice, even though it wasn’t directed to me. :)

    1. EngineerMom*

      Definitely wear clothing you’re comfortable in, that reads as “I dressed professionally for this occasion” (I’m comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, but wouldn’t wear that to an engineering interview here in the Midwest!).

      Best of luck in your job search!

      1. Sarra N. Dipity*

        Thank you! I am excited. I’ve been in this position for nearly 4 years, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that it’s time to go.

  40. AthenaC*

    For better or for worse, men’s business clothing is very much seen as the cultural “standard” for business, and women’s clothing is culturally an acceptable deviation / accomodation. (I’m greatly oversimplifying, but I do think that generally this is the unconscious assumption.)

    What that means, is that although someone might do a double-take at seeing a woman in man’s business clothes, generally that comes from a “hey most women don’t do that!” place rather than a “hey those clothes are inappropriate!” place. This would definitely NOT be the case for a man that feels more comfortable in feminine dress, so that double standard is a bit of an advantage for your situation.

    I think you should be fine wearing your preferred clothing proudly!

    p.s. Feel free to argue / disagree / clarify. I purposely spent, like, 5 minutes typing something very general and very oversimplified, so I’m aware that I’m missing a lot.

    1. Alex*

      I think unfortunately that your point about a man wearing womens clothes to an interview is absolutely true–there is a double standard, and I think you are right in that it is rooted in the patriarchal idea that men are the default gender, and it is less striking to see a woman conforming to the default than a man deviating from it.

      I’d stop short of calling it an advantage, though–because the advantage still goes to cisgendered-presenting people.

    2. Lobsterp0t*

      Yes! I agree with this description of the gendered-clothes hierarchy (which is BS).

      Although women whose sartorial presentation is masculine of centre, rather than Pantsuit Nation vibes, definitely come in for a specific range of gender unpleasantness from people who want to patrol gendered “stuff”. The body wearing the clothes puts the clothing in context in the eye of the beholder.

      Which of course is also part of your comment – and is what makes “androgynous” clothing lines that are actually masculine but “unisex” quite irritating.

  41. EngineerMom*

    Caveat: I work in a field typically dominated by men (engineering).

    I don’t dress particularly feminine – my normal workday attire is:
    – black pants (men’s or women’s, as long as they fit my body well, have deep enough pockets, straight legs, and come in black)
    – tennis shoes or Tom’s (colorful, usually men’s, as I wear a size 12 in women’s shoes, and frankly, men’s are easier to find!)
    – black t-shirt (here I usually prefer women’s cuts, because I like the stretchy fit, but I’ve also worn men’s because I’m quite tall with long arms, and men’s shirts usually have longer sleeves)

    My job prohibits wearing any jewelry other than a plain gold wedding band, a simple wristwatch, and stud earrings due to safety and cleanliness issues, so jewelry isn’t a “thing” here, even if you wanted to wear it. I was thrilled when they told me during the interview process that I wouldn’t be allowed to wear any makeup except tinted moisturizer (again, due to safety/cleanliness issues associated with working for a medical device manufacturer).

    When I go to interviews, I wear exactly the same thing (Tom’s shoes, though, not the tennies) topped with a black blazer (mine happens to be a feminine cut because that’s what I’m comfortable in, but it’s certainly not necessary for it to be feminine!). Maybe a necklace if I’m feeling fancy, or it’s a company where dressing up is clearly a “thing”. Once I decided to wear a necktie over a black button-down short-sleeve shirt because I have a handmade men’s necktie from a weaving company that means a lot to my family, and I like wearing it. I got an offer out of that interview (that I ultimately rejected for other reasons).

    To be honest, wear what you’re comfortable in. It will help you interview better! And if the interviewer is THAT put off by your attire, it’s probably not a company you want to work for anyway.

  42. Ana Gram*

    I’m in law enforcement so women who don’t wear uniforms aren’t dressing super femme here. Pantsuits, button downs, plain sweaters (maybe with a button down underneath, and polos with khakis and flat dress shoes are the norm for women here. Maybe a watch as jewelry. Lots of very short hair. It really never struck me as odd- just practical. Frankly, I don’t have any interest in working somewhere where I need to wear makeup and really feminine clothing. I think it’s far easier for women who prefer an androgynous or more male presenting look than it is for men. I would probably skip the tie for an interview but make a point of seeing what others are wearing. I know video interviewing is the norm nowadays but you could still check the company website and social media for clues. Good luck!

  43. Essess*

    As long as your clothes fit you properly and look professional, it doesn’t really matter if it’s feminine or not. You just want to appear polished and clean. :-)

  44. Ariadne Oliver*

    From a manager’s point of view, I wouldn’t care one bit if you wore men’s clothing. I care that you’re competent. Obviously, there are industries and workplaces and whole parts of the country that care and want to dictate how people dress but in my little corner that I can control you’re welcome to just do you.

  45. vlookup*

    I’m a masculine-of-center lesbian and I wear mostly/only men’s clothes. I promise that you will be happier, more confident, and more poised – i.e., you will interview better – if you wear something that feels comfortable for your gender presentation.

    I work in a liberal industry in a liberal major city, but it has always been fine. I’ve definitely experienced being seen as “the butch candidate,” and while it can feel uncomfortable and alienating to stand out in that way, I don’t think I’ve ever faced any professional blowback. What has worked for me is to be super matter-of-fact about my identity and presentation – casually mention my girlfriend, chat with the guys about where they get their shoes, just act like it’s not a big deal (because it’s not!). I’ve always tried to dress a smidge nicer than the men in the office, at first as a defensive tactic (if you look put-together, no one can say anything about it without looking like a homophobe) and now just because I enjoy it. After many years of looking visibly gay in public I worry much less than I used to about how other people are reading me.

    So seriously, go for it! Find an outfit that makes you feel great, suck it up and pay a zillion dollars to get it tailored for your body, and have your girlfriend or friends pump you up about how awesome you look. Good luck.

  46. RagingADHD*

    I don’t grok why anyone would voluntarily wear a necktie if it wasn’t an important expectation for professionalism.

    I know people do, but I’ve had to wear one for a theater costume before and it was so physically miserable. Ugh, strangle.

    1. allathian*

      Given the choice, I’d far rather wear a necktie than heels! I guess I’m lucky in that I don’t have to wear either. Long before memes were a thing, I saw a caricature of a man being led by his necktie like a dog on a leash. From then on, I’ve never been able to get rid of that image in my head.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Not a big fan of heels, but to me, uncomfortable feet is still better than feeling choked.

    2. SummerBee*

      I don’t know any cis-male people who wear ties to work any more. So I wonder if soon it won’t be coded masculine anyway?

  47. Llama Llama*

    My only advice would be to try and gage if a full on suit is too dressed up for the work place. Someone interviewing at my work place wearing a full suit and tie would be very out of place. I don’t think it would knock anyone out of the running for a job, but it might make you feel out of place being interviewed by people dressed significantly more casually.

  48. Hosta*

    Wear what you’re comfortable in. I’m a weirdo who dresses androgynous day to day but actually swings pretty femme for interviews. Skirt suit, heels, natural makeup, etc. If it is a suit interview that’s what makes me feel powerful. Interviews are about the only time I reliably wear heels.

    As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t think twice of a woman in a men’s suit. If it was especially awesome and we hired the candidate I might ask her later where she got it. :-)

  49. Jane*

    I errr the other direction – I want to make absolutely sure my interviewers read me as queer, because if they are going to be weird about it I want to be screened out/screen them out at the interview stage.

    I live in a liberal city and I am not in danger of starving, so I can make that call with little consequence. I have no interest in working for a heterosexist employer.

  50. notallthatbutch*


    I’m a fairly androgynous lesbian in my mid 40s, so started interviewing for post college jobs in the late 1990s. I’ve lived in various countries and cities in that time, some more liberal than others. I absolutely concur with the advice to wear something that is smart (always err on the side of smarter than you need to be) and in which you are comfortable. I really worried about this as a new graduate back in the late 1990s and on one occasion was chased down the street by a group of small boys on my way home from a job interview – they thought I was a trans woman and were shouting abuse (I’m a cis female but am tall and men’s clothes are often a more comfortable fit). Needless to say I hadn’t interviewed well either.

    After a period overseas in some fairly conservative countries/cities where I’d felt I needed to have my hair longer and my appearance more “feminine” for work I came back to my home city in 2001 and since then I’ve only ever interviewed wearing my ‘normal’ smart work atire, a man’s suit, smart shoes, hair short (currently shaved) but smart, no make up or jewellery beyond my wedding ring (a moot point as I don’t actually own any…). It has raised eyebrows in some jobs but as far as I know hasn’t cost me any (tbh I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve generally been offered the jobs I’ve interviewed for, so I’ve probably had <6 interviews in that time). I think it is less of an issue now than it was 20 years ago; it probably helps that most (but not all) of my jobs have been in the public sector so usually organisations with a public commitment to equalities and with HR departments that are well briefed on equality legislation (and I'm in a country where this is reasonably strong). The one thing I would probably hesitate on is wearing a tie for an interview – I have, but if I was in any way unsure about the organisation/interview panel I wouldn't, I do think it's still more of a "statement" (also I tend to be 'read' as male when I'm wearing a tie and suit and that just causes embarrassment to the receptionist as I have a female name and use Mrs).

    Good luck and hey, maybe in 20 years time this will no longer be something we need to worry about…

  51. Sally*

    Respectfully, I think wearing a tie will come across strangely – it would toe the line between “I’m trying to look cute a la Annie Hall” and “I’m trying to look like a man.” Plus, men hate ties, so it would come across as strange to wear one when it’s not socially expected. But I think wearing just about anything else a man would wear, provided it fits decently, would be fine in even pretty conservative jobs.

  52. RudeRabbit*

    I couldn’t agree more with Alison. I work in HR and am constantly interviewing candidates from entry level hourly to executive status. I’ve also worked in the Mid West and New England for various industries. Be yourself, dress professionally for the role, and then focus on your interview. Good companies won’t even take pause with you wearing menswear, even with a tie. They will appreciate the effort you took to come prepared for the interview, and will pick up on your confidence versus nervousness. Those companies that are not with the times will take issue, and you will be doing yourself a favor by screening THEM out.

    Now go rock that interview and land that job!

  53. Alex*

    I think fit is really key here. I think that if LW wears a really well-fitting, modern, fashionable men’s suit, it won’t even compute that hard that she is wearing BOYS CLOTHES OMG LESBIAN ALERT. If the suit doesn’t fit your body, it will be more apparent that it is “for men.” At least this is my own experience–when I see a woman in really sharp mens clothes, I definitely think “wow, what a sharp looking outfit!” before “she is LGBTQIA+”. You’ll look much more sharp in that than an ill-fitting woman’s blouse that you aren’t comfortable in.

    Full disclosure though that I am both a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and happen to think women look really good in a tie.

  54. just another lesbian*

    Hello! Loving all the lesbian love up in here.

    Letter writer, there are lots of great sources out there for butch/ masculine-of-center fashion inspiration! I’m in a Facebook group and follow some blogs on tumblr. I also have some friends/ role models who dress super sharp! I aspire to be like them. (One tip: I’m told tailoring thrifted clothes can be a great way to get an outfit that looks great at an affordable price.)

    Go forth and rock your style. Sending tons of love your way.

  55. in a fog*

    You do you! I’m a cis woman who loves to dress girly, and I’ve participated in several hiring committees in my career. A number of candidates like you have come through who are so obviously and unapologetically who they are that their stock goes UP, in my book. It’s so noticeable when someone’s wearing something to an interview that they felt like they were supposed to wear because, well, INTERVIEW OMG. If a potential employer doesn’t like it, you don’t want to work for them anyway.

  56. always in email jail*

    Just as a data point, I work in state government in a purple state and even in the more conservative areas of the state I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at this. Tennis shoes would bother them, but not a man’s suit.

  57. Here we go again*

    Can someone please just make a women’s blazer with inside pockets? I’d love a suit like Pam Greer wore in Jackie Brown with inside pockets in the jacket.
    But no one will really notice the difference between a man’s suit and a woman’s suit if it fits correctly.

  58. Jake*

    I’m glad we are slowly working towards “wear what you are comfortable in” as a society. Eventually we will hopefully be able to just wear normal street clothes whenever we want.

  59. Rachel*

    I’ve found very interesting men’s blazers at thrift stores and had them tailored to fit a more feminine body shape for not a ton of money. I’ve also worn them without tailoring for a more casual look with jeans.
    A good quality, perfectly pressed, white button down men’s or woman’s shirt is a great look for an interview with a jacket for any gender IMO.
    I am in finance and wear a ‘uniform’ of men’s button down shirt in any color or pattern, woman’s sweater (in Winter) or pull over vest (Fall/Spring) with dress slacks and loafers or Docs.

  60. miro*

    I think other commenters have addressed the gendered clothing aspects pretty well, so I’ll set that aside and just mention that a suit and tie might be weirdly formal depending on where you’re interviewing. I work in a creative industry and it would probably seem odd if any candidate showed up in a suit and tie–usually people wear something casual and fairly colorful.

    With that said, I think that being a woman means you might be able to get away with wearing a suit/tie when men wouldn’t, since it reads as “deliberate look” rather than “generic and stuffy.”

    Apologies if you already took this into account, but I’ve definitely known college students who assumed (as I always did) that working in an office automatically/necessarily means wearing a suit and tie, which it most certainly doesn’t!

  61. nnn*

    I know many people here disagree with this, but I don’t think a men’s suit without a tie would read as outright masculine. It might read as not fashionable (which may or may not also be a risk, depending on your industry), or it might read as unremarkable shirt+pants+jacket.

    Separately, if the men’s suit doesn’t fit your body well, it might read as ill-fitting, which may or may not be a risk depending on your industry. I think people would only get from “ill-fitting” to “therefore, she is wearing men’s clothes” if they have experience trying to wear men’s clothes on curvy bodies.

  62. Anon_non_non*

    This obviously isn’t exactly the same thing, but when my mom was first interviewing for jobs out of college (early 80s), she would wear a bright red dress to her final interview. The dress wasn’t low cut or overly short, it was a professional dress that just happened to be bright red. Apparently it was very helpful in screening out companies that were scandalized by a woman wearing “such a racy color”.

  63. Katie A*

    Maybe this has already been mentioned, but I love Men’s Warehouse for shopping! It’s a big enough chain store that their motivation is to sell clothing, not really care who’s buying it AND there’s a tailor on site that will hem whatever you need for pretty cheap. Sometimes too you can find an employee who will help you shop and get super into it, if that’s your thing! :)

    1. RJ*

      I adore Men’s Warehouse and have gotten a number of blazers there that I’ve gotten tailored on site over the years. They have great sales and excellent customer service.

      OP, wear your suit and wear it well. As long as you look professional, you don’t have to be traditionally feminine in order to make an impression at an interview.

  64. singlemaltgirl*

    i expect clean, professional, well groomed. i may compliment a great tie or skirt or whatever in passing to build rapport or ease anxiety if i see that. but as i’m recalling candidates that don’t fit the heteronormative binary default, i don’t think i have ever been ‘put off’ b/c someone afab wore traditionally male gendered clothing. if you look professional, that’s what i’m going for. if it’s a more biz casual environment, i still won’t penalize someone who comes to an interview a little more formal than the culture. i do tend to be put off by ‘overly casual’ by candidates coming in for an interview. so go figure.

    but then i’ve read some weird dress code shit on here (like women are required to wear high heels and make up) so i don’t know if i’m the exception or the rule.

  65. Caroline Bowman*

    Depending on industry, never have I been put off as a recruiter by any person who is wearing clean, pressed (when applicable) clothing that fits them reasonably well and is fairly neutral in appearance. Smart pants, a shirt and blazer are entirely and completely normal, suitable clothes for any person to wear to an office-type job. If it’s VERY formal in terms of working environment, one might wear a suit, with or without tie. Yes I realise it’s not traditional for women to wear ties, so possibly just leave that out.

    Clean shoes, clean nails and a warm smile works perfectly for all genders. If I were you, I’d wear comfortable clothing that approximately matches that description. No apologies, no explanations, you’re totally fine as you are!

  66. KTV123*

    For what it is worth, I work in health care in a relatively conservative mid sized city. I recently hired for a position and neither myself nor my boss nor my larger company for that matter, would have cared if the candidate wore masculine presenting clothing as long as they were professional looking. What mattered most is how they interviewed and presented themselves. I understand that this is my experience, but my company is one of the biggest employers in our region and I can say, without hesitation, that would be true across the company and if it wasn’t, the person hiring wouldn’t be following our standards.

  67. Selina Luna*

    The way I dress is… eclectic at the least. It’s been called weird many, many times. And my only advice is to dress as close as you can to your “every day” as possible. Let your prospective employers know who you are through clothing. I think of it as similar to a clothing blogger I used to follow-she had several tattoos on her lower arms, and she refused to wear long sleeves all day, every day. And so she always made sure at least some of her tattooing was visible during interviews. Another friend is a man who loves to wear makeup. He identifies as male. He also likes a fully done face. So, when he interviews somewhere new, he always puts on eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. Even though it’s not his full routine, it gives his employer an idea of what to expect.
    If your usual daily wear is a full masculine suit and tie, go for it. Make sure it fits your shoulders well (don’t go baggy; baggy looks bad on everyone).

  68. Kaileigh*

    I worked and hired folks working in Boston. My personal aesthetic is on the masc side of gender neutral, I definitely get read as queer in most contexts. I think being read as obviously queer in interviews is not really a bad thing. In my interviews I interacted with upper management folks who were always professional and usually warm, and when I got down to some of the more casual interview portions with team members it drew out the other queer people, who made a point to let me know about relevant culture and benefits. When I switched to the hiring side I recruited a very queer team, often completely inadvertently because having visibly queer people involved in the hiring process made queer applicants feel safe and enthusiastic about the job. In retrospect, I have a lot of pride in being visible during that process. I ended up with a job where I felt comfortable being openly myself, and making safe spaces for others.

  69. gurbles*

    I did it. Grit my teeth through a terrifying trip to Men’s Wearhouse in a tiny Midwestern farm town (the tailor did some actual miracle work on those suit pants). If you asked me to do the same thing today, I not sure I’d have the courage. But I’ve felt comfortable and confident at every interview I’ve done since, and I’ve got a sweet suit that makes me feel like a gosh darn princess.

  70. Katie*

    I work in finance, so a field where people expect you to be reasonably polished looking in an interview. Went in suit and pants. No makeup. If they didn’t give me the job for such a stupid reason as they didn’t like those things then they don’t deserve to have me working for them anyways. I want my employer to value my brain and my ability to make them lots of money (which I do), not how I decide to dress (with the exception of like if I decided to go in naked or something crazy like that).

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