Interviewing Job Searching

Deciding What to Wear to an Interview: 4 Types of Proper Interview Attire

Marissa Bergen

Freelance Writer, Blogger, and Musician


So you’ve done it. You went ahead and submitted your resume to a few companies, and you ended up getting a call back for a job you think is perfect. You know you have to make a terrific impression at the interview, and that includes finding the right thing to wear. 

It’s not easy figuring out what to wear to an interview, and clothing choices may vary depending on the company and position you are applying for. But there are some simple guidelines that will help you make a smart choice every time. 

This article will provide tips on what to wear to an interview so you’re sure to knock ‘em dead. 

Do Some Research

Before looking through your closet to find perfect interview outfits, start by doing research on the company you’re applying to. Decide what you might wear on your average day to work, and then take it up a notch.

For instance, you might feel like the job calls for workers to wear clothing like jeans and t-shirts, but you won’t want to show up for the interview wearing something quite so casual. Rather, you might want to wear slacks and a nice shirt.

But don’t overdo it. If you dress overly formal to interview for a casual position, you won’t look right for the company. The idea is to be neat and respectful while looking like you fit in. 

Generally, business attire falls into one of four categories, business formal, business casual, casual and worker. Let’s look at the interview outfits you should be wearing for each. 

Formal Business

What to Wear in an Interview- Formal

A formal business environment may have a dress code that requires suited looks for men and skirts or trousers and a blouse for women. Women may also wear dresses or suit. 

Here is an idea of interview outfits to wear for a formal business interview. 

Men

Men should wear a single-breasted suit in a dark color. If the suit features a print, it should be subtle. 

Pair the suit with a light-colored button front shirt and a conservative tie. Finish it off with dress shoes that match the suit. 

Your socks should match your trousers, and any tattoos should be covered up. Bring your resume and any other documents along in a briefcase. 

Women

Women have more options than men when it comes to what to wear to an interview. However, a suit is always a safe bet. 

You may choose to wear a skirt suit or a pants suit. Be sure to remember that if you opt for a skirt, make sure it is close to knee length. It should not come too high above the knee. If it does, it may not be considered appropriate. 

As with men, the suit should be a dark color paired with a light color shirt underneath. It should be neatly tailored. 

If you wear heels, avoid wearing ones that are too high. Hair should be neatly styled back, and jewelry and accessories should be kept to a minimum.

Business Casual

What to Wear to an Interview- Business Casual

If you are applying to an office with a laid-back atmosphere, business casual is likely to be the way to go. This means, the company will want you to look nice and presentable, but a full suit is not necessary. 

Here’s an idea of job interview outfits to wear in a business causal environment. 

Men

Men that interview for business casual gigs should wear a trousers or chinos paired with a button front shirt. Dress shoes or loafers will compliment the look. Make sure to wear matching socks. 

Your hair should be neat and tied back if long. Any tattoos should be hidden. Bring along your resume in a briefcase or laptop bag. 

Women

For women contemplating how to dress for an interview while attempting to tackle a business casual look, it is worth mentioning that women’s attire is not too different from men’s attire. Women’s business casual interview clothes should have a similar aesthetic as men. You may wear a button-front shirt with trousers or a skirt. The skirt should not come far above the knee.

The outfit can be paired with flats or heels that are not overly high. Hair and makeup should be neat, and accessories should be kept to a minimum. Avoid large handbags opting instead for a small bag that matches your interview outfit.

Casual

If you are applying to a boutique or café, it’s advisable go with a casual clothing choice. However, you won’t want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt. Here are some interview outfits that are more appropriate.

Men

Men who are applying for a position at a company with a laid-back environment and are contemplating what to wear to an interview may wear clothing similar to what they would wear for business causal interviews. They can even take it down a notch and still look professional.

For example, while chinos or trousers and a button-front shirt will be fine, a polo shirt will also be appropriate. Dress shoes may be a little much, but loafers or boat shoes will provide the ideal aesthetic. 

Shave and keep hair neat, and cover your tattoos. If the job is hospitality related, make sure your hands and fingernails are clean. 

Women

Women who are applying to a business-casual position may just want to wear jeans. If you go this route, choose jeans that are well tailored and feature a dark wash. A skirt is also acceptable but avoid wearing one that’s too short. 

A blouse or nicely cut t-shirt or jersey will work for the top. The shirt you choose should not be low cut or feature a funny graphic. However, you may want to show your personality a bit by wearing a stylish accessory or modern print. 

Flats will be the best option for shoes. Tattoos and piercings should be covered, and makeup should be done tastefully. 

Worker Environment

Worker environment jobs are ones that require manual labor. When trying to figure out what to wear to an interview for manual labor jobs, keep in mind that you will still want to look professional. You will also want to show the interviewer that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty. Here are some ideas on to wear for an interview.  

Men

When applying for a worker job, men may wear job interview outfits that consist of jeans and a polo shirt or a nice t-shirt. The jeans should not be dirty or ripped and the shirt should fit well and should not feature any graphics. 

Closed toe shoes should be worn; a nice pair of work boots will be ideal. All hair including facial hair should be neatly groomed. Tattoos and piercings should be hidden. 

Women

Women applying for a worker position may wear jeans that feature a dark wash and are clean and free of holes. These can be paired with a blouse or a nice t-shirt. Shoes should be closed-toe and rugged. Heels are not recommended. 

Hair should be pulled back and neatly styled. Makeup and accessories should be kept to a minimum. 

What Not to Wear to a Job Interview

Now that you know what to wear to an interview, let’s look at a few wardrobe choices that should be avoided. 

Flip Flops or Open Toed Shoes: Women may wear a sophisticated sandal with a peep toe, but it’s important to avoid looking like you’re ready for a day at the beach or like you just slipped your shoes on to take out the mail. 

Athletic Shoes: Athletic shoes have a sloppy appearance and should be avoided. Even if you are interviewing for a worker job, you are better off wearing a boot than a sneaker. 

Tank Tops with Thin Straps: In modern times, we have advanced past thinking that thin straps are overly sexy, but they still may not an appropriate piece of an interview outfit. 

Underwear That Sticks Our from Your Clothing: Women should avoid wearing anything that reveals a bra strap. Both genders should wear pants that fully cover their underwear. 

Skirts That are Too Short: Ladies, when thinking about what to wear to an interview, remember this. When you sit down at your interview, your dress will ride up making those couple of inches above the knee more like several inches above the knee.

For best results, go with a skirt or dress with a hem that is at least long enough to meet the bottom of your fingers when you stand. 

Shorts: Shorts are pretty much a no-go at any job interview. 

Shirts That are Too High or Too Low: Your shirt should not expose your naval or your chest. 

Perfume or Cologne: You may think your perfume smells great, but others may find it irritating or distracting. To play it safe, go without it at your interview or choose a very mild scent. 

Other Tips

Here are some other helpful tips to help you make decisions about how to dress for an interview:

Hair, Including Facial Hair, Should Be Well Groomed: Make sure your hair looks nice and neat. Tie it back if necessary. Men, if you have long hair, it is best to tie it back for your interview.

Keep Accessories to a Minimum: Bulky accessories will detract from a neat appearance, and they may also send a message of impracticality. A few tasteful pieces will look sophisticated and show personality, without being too distracting.

Apply Makeup Tastefully: If you are wearing makeup to the interview, keep it tasteful. Light lip color and eyeliner is perfectly acceptable, but you don’t want to make it seem like you are ready for a nightclub.

Cover Tattoos and Piercings: In today’s modern world, tattoos and piercings are becoming more widely accepted. However, you never know how they will come off to an employer. It’s best to play it safe, and cover them up. Of course, hiding tattoos and piercings doesn’t change the fact that you have them, but it shows the interviewer that you can produce a conservative appearance if necessary. 

Do a Run Through: It’s advisable to do an interview attire run through before you head out the door. Give yourself a bit of time to try on your outfit looking out for any stains or holes. Make sure your underwear is covered and that no items are too short or low cut. This should be done a few hours before you leave so you have time to change if necessary. 

Conclusion

Knowing what to wear for an interview makes all the difference. The tips in this article should get you headed in the right direction when it comes to finding the interview clothes you need.

Happy Job Searching!