Question: Professional, Yet Fashionable Interview Outfits

Worn to a second interview for an Office Manager job in September. American Eagle tights, Calvin Klein skirt, MMS bag (all bought at Marshall’s); Claire’s earrings; Forever 21 ruffled-front blouse, wool tuxedo jacket, and mixed chain bracelet; Payless Victorian booties. Original post here.


You’ve featured a couple of your interview outfits, I was wondering if you had any advice on how to dress professional and fashionable? Most of the outfits outlined in career guides make me feel like a flight attendant.

That’s a great question!  With the recent economic quagmire here in the U.S. (and abroad), perhaps many more of us are going on interviews than in past years…and it’s always hard to know how to dress for them.  Granted, I’m applying for a digital-design-related (read: working-in-front-of-a-computer-most-of-the-time) position in a creative industry (and in Portland, OR, where the style of dress is much more relaxed than most other urban centers), so my past outfits may not be the best guide for you in your particular situation.

But I completely agree that most “job interview” outfits that are touted in magazines usually fall into one of two categories:

A) stuffy and boring, or

B) WAAAAAAAAY overpriced.

I’m always shocked at the magazine articles that suggest a $645 Helmut Lang blazer or a $1150 Reed Krakoff skirt (see exhibit A, below)…I mean, you are looking for work so it’s not like you can go out and lay down a grand or so on a skirt, correct??

Scanned from Marie Claire magazine, February 2012. Click to enlarge.

Now, some people have a go-to high-priced interview suit that they splurged on, that fits them wonderfully and always looks impeccable and tasteful.  And that’s one way to go if you have the funds for it and you’re the type of person, and are in an industry that requires you to be well-dressed and exemplify the height of professionalism.

Worn to a casual meeting at a small company in December when applying for a freelance position.  Forever 21 earrings, sweater, and belt; Victoria’s Secret button-down shirt, ASOS pants and heels; Target bag.  Original post here.

But if you can’t afford a high-priced suit (or aren’t inclined to commit to something like that), I do think that you should at least be wearing an expensive-looking piece of clothing when you go to an interview.  That doesn’t mean it actually has to be expensive…just expensive-looking.

So what makes something look expensive when it really isn’t?

1) FABRIC: Silk, stiff wool, leather, linen, stiff cotton.  Anything that holds its shape, doesn’t look flimsy, see-through, clingy, or wrinkled.

2) CUT: Fits you well.  Not like a second skin, but like a loose skin…i.e., something that skims over your curves and “hints” at the line of your body rather than stretches to hold it all in or swaddles you in piles of fabric.

The above 2 are a MUST when it comes to making something that is cheap…look fantastically expensive.

And, optional:

3) DETAILING: Tiny details that make the piece “special” and “different” from the billions of other white blouses or black pencil skirts out there on the planet.  Pearl buttons; contrast piping; color-blocking etc., will step those pieces up a notch and truly make them a unique and memorable part of your outfit.

And you can find clothing like this anywhere, even for a huge steal.  My favorite interview outfits combine a mix of low-priced, vintage, clothing bought in Japan, and pieces I’ve made myself…and yet I’ve received many compliments on them and questions about where I got certain pieces.  I do try to choose item that fit at least 2 of the three criteria above, and that are, above all, unique pieces that speak to my personality.  (That uniqueness really comes more into play in creative industries, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all-solution.)  This makes my outfits feel like they’re truly an expression of myself and that I’m not some corporate drone.

If you have to dress in an all-black power suit, can you not wear some diamond (or cubic zirconia?) studs in your favorite non-circular shape?  Or a subtle ring with an unusual setting?  Or use a brightly-colored wallet, tucked away in your bag?  Can you even go with an outfit that looks like a suit…but isn’t?  (see belowFind smaller ways to assert your personality even if you have to be stuck into a something suit-like.

And finally, always have at least TWO, if not THREE, go-to interview outfits that you can pull together at any time, that look great on you and you don’t have to think about any part of them.

Worn to the first interview with a video production company for an Office Manager position.  Top handmade by me, Target bag, vintage U.S. Navy pants, shoes bought in Japan; Payless ring.  Original post here.

Plus, you can always DIY some amazing details onto that power suit (like change the buttons, add some piping, sew some trim onto the pockets, add a ruffle to the skirt) so that it feels truly you – and you feel a better representation of yourself when you walk into that interview room.

Have any tips for a great interview outfit?
Leave them in the comments!


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Leave Comment Q&A Marathon: How Do I Make…This??

So I’ve received a lot of questions in my account asking “How do I make this? with a link to a photo.  Here are my quick analyses of the hotw-tos (and please everyone, chime in in the comments if you’re struck with another way to make these items!):

Hi! How do you sew something like this: or this?

I see lace dresses are on your mind!

The first one doesn’t even look like it is a dress – the edges look completely unsewn and it appears like the person wearing it just added a belt and let the edges flap in the wind.;-)  You could possibly re-create this garment with a piece of lace about a yard or so wide, and literally cut a hole in the center for your neck – and wear half the fabric in the front and half in the back!!  (If it were me, I would allow the sleeves to drape to about the waist, and then sew the skirt part since I wouldn’t be comfortable walking around in a dress that’s kind of like an open toga at the sides…)

The second dress is just a typical tank-style dress; it’s very hard to see the detail on it but it looks like the top has crochet edging along the armscyes and bust; it’s fully lined; and the bottom appears to be gathered tiers of lace.  There may even be little lace rosettes dotted on the bottom tiers but it’s a little hard to tell.  SecretLifeofaBioNerd shared a video on Threadbanger on how to make a sweet lace dress; simply adopt her method for making the skirt (but add a couple more tiers instead of just the one she has), hand-sew the rosettes on there if you like (sourced from the bridal area of your local fabric/notions store), cut and sew a tanktop-style top, and add a crochet applique to the neck area.  Speaking of crochet…

How do you sew this? Is there a way of cutting the crochet part without it unravelling? Someone told me that if I cut rib knit, it frays, is that true?

Are you trying to re-create this from scratch or are you trying to alter the piece that you have?  If you’re trying to make this from scratch, you will either have to crochet the top embellishment yourself, rip it off of a dress or shirt that already exists, or buy a bridal or crochet applique from the fabric store to use for your piece.  I’ve never seen crochet embellishment like that come on a roll like fabric does; I don’t think you can just go to the fabric store and get a yard of it cut for you to use.  The crochet embellishment would have been made-to-order by the manufacturer’s and even if you can find a big piece; cutting it down to fit the size of your top would just cause the whole thing to unravel (unless you really know what you are doing and snip certain threads and tie them off together etc. as you go…you can certainly try but something like that poses a problem even for experienced crocheters and knitters, so I wouldn’t really recommend it if you can avoid it at all).

Rib knit is an entirely different thing than this crochet piece…if you’re talking about your standard cotton or spandex interlock rib-knit, then it will only fray to the extend that cotton or spandex knit fabric does.  Repeated stretching will cause it to fray more.  In using rib knit, as with any knit, you need to overlock the raw edges to prevent fray and wear and tear.  You can cut it no problem but it will have to be finished if you’re planning on using it in something wearable (especially if that something is washable too!)  But it doesn’t really unravel like crochet or a knitted sweater…unless you find a loose weft thread and yank on it…

If you’re trying to alter this piece that you already have, again, don’t cut the crochet part if you want to retain it at all; just sew on top of it/through it.  (You can add darts or gathers to take up the extra fabric to alter it smaller…to make it bigger I don’t think it’s possible without cutting the crochet, which will have you running into the previous problem.

Hey could you do a tutorial on how to make this kind of structure?

Ohmygoodness.  Okay, that piece is a huge amount of work.  Not to say that it can’t be done, but if you can buy off-the-rack from American Apparel (still available here BTW!), it will probably be cheaper than all your time and effort going into it.  But if you really want to make a top like that…

Find a rose-embellished mesh fabric and make a basic shirt out of it!!  High-end fabric stores and stores that cater to designers may have exactly this type of fabric, which you can buy in however many yards you need, and then make your shirt out of it.  I did find it online here, but the price is not listed so you’d have to call the company to find out more…and even if you can’t find the fabric as yardage you might be able to re-appropriate something.

I saw this photo on Cruel*Thing of a DIY rose-embellished skirt…made from a pillowcase!  Which is a fabulous idea made even more fabulous by the beautiful pillowcase Diana used.  Bravo!

Do an Ebay search and there’s usually some similar pillowcases available, which you can cut up and use for your shirt.

And if you really want to make every single one of those fabric roses yourself…There’s a great tutorial on Cut Out + Keep, submitted by one of my fave DIY’ers Stacie G. from Stars for Streetlights on making a Fendi-style rose dress, which you can adapt for making a shirt like this.  The shirt you want to make uses flat chiffon cording to make those roses – if you check out the trims section of your local fabric store, you can probably find this similar flat trim.

Good luck!



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Clip-In Hair Extensions from Japan: Question

Priscilla-brand Clip-In Curly Wigpiece


Hi there, I have been reading your blog for a while now and quick question. I don’t read or speak Japanese but think I might like a clip in ‘curly’ extension if it is indeed curly. Checked site mentioned but very lost. Any ideas for my language barrier?

Did you know you can access in English? (If that’s the site you were referring to…) Or try reading the site through Google Translate? (

However the wig pieces appear in the photos is how they look straight out of the package; there usually isn’t any false advertising when it comes to stuff from Japan (probably because consumers won’t tolerate it!). I personally love the Priscilla brand because I find it’s high-quality, usually heat-tolerant, and I found one of their colors is a perfect match for my natural color. If you’re looking for the clip-in curly extensions, they’re called “Eriashi Wig” (エリ足ウィッグ) or “Mecha Raku Ekusute” (めちゃ楽エクステ) but I don’t see any available that are reaaaallly curly, so I’m not sure just how curly you’re looking for.  Wigland ( is my fave one-stop shop for all my hair-pieces; maybe you could browse around in there to see if you see anything you like? (English interface:

Good luck!

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Where’s My Red Hair From?

Hi Carly! I just found your blog yesterday and I loved it so much I have been going through all your old posts! (Is that creepy? haha) This may seem a bit strange, but I was wondering if you are Irish. I LOVE your red hair!
The Internet is probably the best place for creepiness! Thanks for your kind words about my blog:-)
I am ethnically Scottish/Danish/Norwegian/Czechoslovakian. (“Cais” is a Czech name.) But both my parents are Australians and I was born in the U.S., so I was originally American/Australian… Well, technically American now since I dropped the Australian nationality off my passport (I have only visited there a couple times and though all my relatives are there, I really just identify as American).
The red hair probably comes from the Scottish and the Czech sides of my family; apparently I have a second cousin in the Czech Republic who has hair the exact same color as mine. It’s tough to keep vibrant during the winter – and as the years go by!! :..(
Leave Comment Question: Do I Want to Try Out for a Reality Show?

 Img source


I love how creative and innovative you are with your designs.  Have you ever thought of applying to any of the reality shows such as “Project Runway”, “Launch My Line” or “Fashion By Design”?

Thank you! Reality shows; ah, yes. I’ve been watching Project Runway avidly since Season 1, when I was living in Philadelphia, just about to move to Hawaii. I figured it would be pointless to try out for Season 2 since I was just about to move. Then I moved to Hawaii, far, far away from any audition area, no $$ to travel to one. Then I got pregnant and had my son. And became a stay-at-home mom. And finally moved back to the mainland, where I am now closer to an audition area (and have more money to potentially make the trip). But the other question in my mind was if I was ready or not.

“Making it” on a reality show has little to do with making it in the real world. I’m not sure my design skills or sewing abilities are up to par to being tested in grueling, 2-day challenges. Just because you are successful on the show does not mean you can translate those skills into the actual work that occurs over a period of weeks, if not months, into planning and executing a collection. (I know I don’t instinctively work creatively in short, 2-day intensives.) I’m also not sure I’m enough of a “personality” to win over the hearts of TV audiences everywhere, and many, many contestants on those shows have practically shot themselves in the foot by appearing on TV and being less-than-popular. Many have been vilified, finding their reputation tarnished, mocked by the Internet, and written off by the fashion industry. Plus, I know I’m not particularly “fashion-forward.” I’m not interested in NEXT, I’m interested in NOW. I want to take trends and distill them, translating them for a budget market, utilizing more ecological and sustainable methods of manufacture. Those shows seem to be searching for “The Next Big Fashion Designer” and I’m more retroactive and probably more interested in accessories than clothing. I’ve also watched as Project Runway and The Fashion Show have declined, losing production values (well, maybe not TFS, which has gotten campier), and becoming less about the design ability of the contestants and more about the judges’ egos in recent seasons. But of course the egotistical side of me still wants to try out!

I have to admit I’ve never heard of “Fashion By Design.” What is it?

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