In-firm interview survival guide // Style Counsel

How to make a (fashionable) first impression for in-firm interviews

By Donna Wilson

On Wednesday October 27th, 2010

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Donna WilsonFor busy lawyers, things like style and beauty are as important as they are difficult to find time to worry about. Hopefully I can help. I am always looking for low maintenance tricks to quickly get myself ready for a long day, or to make me look like I am not so tired when I happen to be working late nights.

In the fashion world, far too little is written about clothes aimed at young professionals. Most fashion publications write about work wear that isn’t suited for lawyers, more for people in creative fields like advertising or…well…fashion. In this regard, I will skip reporting on trends such as armadillo shoes and shorts with tights for fall in favour of things you can actually wear to the office, like a great shift dress or suit. Okay, maybe once and a while I will report on the trendier stuff just for fun; we do have weekends after all.

For this first edition, though, I thought I’d offer up some essential tips for law students heading into in-firm interviews next week. Wondering how to stay fresh through three straight days of interviews, cocktail parties and dinners?

Well, first, let’s go over a few basics:

  • Men: you should have your haircut the week before (so you’d better get on it, if you haven’t already), and make sure you look polished in general. Get a close shave and trim any facial hair, have clean, short fingernails, etc.
  • Women: you should make sure your hair looks neat and professional, and wear understated makeup, i.e. in addition to mascara and blush, you can choose either subtle eye shadow or a subtle lip colour, about one shade deeper than natural. With the eye shadow option, feel free to sport a nude lipstick or gloss.

Now that I have covered the obvious, here are my top three not-so-obvious tips for the ladies (sorry gentlemen!) for staying fresh on the go:

Dry shampooDry Shampoo

If you have medium to fine straight hair, odds are it will start to look flat and a little greasy by the end of a full day of interviews before dinners and receptions even begin.

My favourite dry shampoo is Klorane Oil Suppressing Dry Shampoo ($16, drugstores). Just spray it on your roots, wait two minutes, and brush it out. Your hair will be clean and have more body. A note of caution: stay away from Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo or you will end up smelling like a teenage boy — the scent is vaguely reminiscent of Drakkar Noir.

foundationKeep your makeup fresh

Do not forget to throw some powder in your bag before you head out; you are bound to get shiny throughout the day. My favourite is Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup/Foundation ($25, purminerals.com for stores).  It somehow manages to give an airbrushed-type finish while looking sheer at the same time. It can be used on its own, or over tinted moisturizer for a more full coverage look.

If you have dry skin, bring a light moisturizer with you to touch up dry spots.

lipstickStay all day lipstick

Lipstick adds a nice polish to your look. Unfortunately, most lipsticks do not last long, and during interviews, dinners, and receptions, you will not get to the restroom to reapply very often. Revlon makeup removerColor Stay Overtime Lip Colour solves this problem — it lasts up to 16 hours!

In fact, you will need to pick up a heavy-duty make up remover at the end of the day. Clarins Instant Eye Make-Up Remover ($32, department stores) does the trick.

In the end, you won’t get passed over because your lipstick fades too quickly or your hair falls flat; however, I hope these tips help keep you feeling fresh and confident through a stressful week.


Donna Wilson is a Toronto-based commercial litigator at Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP. Her style and beauty column will appear every second Wednesday.