I wear an “interesting” suit–either the full suit or I have a coordinating set of a waistcoat + blazer in a beautiful plaid with a very subtle shimmer thread in it, with formal slacks. I pair it with kitten heels for walkability (there’s often a surprising amount of trotting around and looking at various things during interviews). By interesting I mean it has a pattern, it might be slouchy or oversized/draped, it has a peplum detail on the jacket, or in the case of my Banana Republic X Harbison suit, it’s bright cyan blue and has a 70s look. This may or may not be too outre for your field, but personally I like to show my personality and creative side, as I’ve struggled in very buttoned-up and conventional offices and I don’t want places like that to hire me or for places to feel mislead or “confused” about what they’re getting. I got my more conservative suit from MM Lafleur, their Cheyenne dress in Sharkskin and matching blazer–they both have a gorgeous gathered detail in the center that makes for a subtle statement. I also have the matching sharkskin midi pencil skirt, and I’ll pair that with a fun-print button front blouse, like from Kate Spade or Tory Burch.
For hair and makeup, I do take a great deal of time and care. I blow dry my hair and then put it in a conservative updo like a low bun or a twist up chignon with no ends showing. I use hair products like shine spray and finishing cream. I wear a full face of makeup—foundation, concealer, blush, eyeshadow (neutrals), mascara, highlighter (this is more for Zoom) and contour (again for Zoom), lipstick. I use products like primer and setting spray. However I like makeup and I will do makeup when I’m WFH by myself (not that much though) so YMMV. I think for those that haven’t worn makeup in years, a dash of concealer over any “flaws”, a dusting of blush, mascara and a touch of tinted balm just to amp up your natural features would be fine, especially in academia.
Jewelry I go for conventional and discreet–small gold studs, my wedding set, perhaps a simple bangle or an additional simple ring. I typically choose my most expensive/luxe looking items for a boost in confidence.
Perfume, I will dot on a very, very small amount of my “good luck” perfume oil that’s much more of a personal aura–only I can really smell it. I’d say a tiny, tiny spritz of something Jo Malone-y just enough to barely smell it, would be sufficient if you’re into scents.