File this information under superfluous, but fascinating: The New York Times reports on a recent fashion show staged for high school seniors desperate to distinguish themselves from a slew of other college applicants (or perhaps just curious about the do’s and don’ts of admission interview style). According to the Times article, the mastermind of the event was “Shannon Duff…an independent college admissions consultant in Greenwich, Conn., who charges families ‘in the range of’ $15,000 for the full breadth of her advice about the application process.” (One would think that for $15,000, Duff would purchase the outfit and provide full hair and makeup, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.)
Along with Whitney Bragg, manager of the Rugby by Ralph Lauren store sponsoring the show, Duff styled one of her male models in yachting regalia: seersuckers, a polo, and a crew sweatshirt. One of her female models walked the runway in a fitted, ruffled blouse and madras skirt, topped by a tiny schoolboy blazer.
Shorts, you might ask? A mini-skirt? Duff’s version of the on-campus college interview outfit signifies that skin is in–or is at least acceptable.
The New York Times showed photos of the models to Kenyon College admissions officer Jennifer Delahunty, who responded in kind:
“I looked at the photos and burst out laughing,” she wrote in an e-mail message. “This whole concept is insanity! The ultimate in ‘packaging’ a student.”
“What does this say to the student that is educationally pertinent — that how you look is as important as your transcript?” Ms. Delahunty added. “I no more pay attention to what a student is wearing at an interview than I check out the car they arrived in.”
“Be yourself,” she added. “Dress like yourself. If that’s a tie–great. If not, don’t wear one to an interview.” There were, she emphasized, no points taken off for jeans.
The moral of this story is, I think, to be yourself, but be the best version of yourself you can be. If you’re a sailor from Nantucket, then by all means, rock the deck shoes. But don’t feel the need to mold yourself into an imaginary version of an acceptable applicant. If you’d like to interview wearing a wrinkled shirt, loose vest, and torn jeans, at least make sure they’re clean; if you want to wear a low-cut dress, then make sure there’s a modest bra underneath. (Jiggling is seriously distracting.)
And if you’re still confused, then wear a suit. Come fall, you’ll be slouching around in sweatpants anyway.