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Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Outfits for Men and Women 

 October 15, 2020

By  Marie

Once you have an interview scheduled the first typical thought after the excitement is "what do I wear?!"

Interview outfits are important reflections of your professionalism and personal style. But even more so, they have a profound impact on how you feel.

In this article we will cover everything you (man or woman!) need to know about interview outfits: why they are important, how to choose one, what is "ok", and where to get one.

Looking for a specific answer? 

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. If you do use these links, thank you.



The Importance of an Interview Outfit

What you wear to an interview is crucial for two reasons:

  • The impact your interview outfit has on your confidence
  • The impact your interview outfit has on your interviewers

Many people and articles tend to focus on the second reason, but rarely the first. And in my opinion, the first reason is the most important.

It cannot be denied that the clothes you wear have a profound effect on how you feel.

I spent weeks during the pandemic dressing like a bum. And although I was supremely comfortable, it did not help my confidence.

It didn’t help me feel more capable or in control. Things that I typically feel when dressing for the office.

The same applies to interview outfits.

Wearing a polished, well-tailored, and professional interview outfit is the fastest way to feel more confident.

This confidence is translated to your behavior and performance in the interview. In fact, there is a lot of scientific evidence behind this. It’s called enclothed cognition.

And formal wear specifically has been found to evoke a feeling of power, which actually changes mental processes.

Second, a great interview outfit is important because of how it makes others feel. Specifically, your interviewers.

First impressions are made in about 3 seconds. 

It probably took you about 3 seconds to read that one sentence. 

So, obviously, what your interviewer sees is the main driver of the first impression you make. And it’s been definitively shown that your clothes are the main element of first impressions.

The science is clear. Your interview outfit has a huge impact on both you (and subsequently your interview performance) as well as your interviewers. 

So whether your interview is in person or virtual- let’s make sure you get it right.


Typical Corporate and Professional Dress Codes

If you have ever been invited to a wedding, you know that dress codes can be very confusing.

These days, attire is not nearly as formal as it used to be in all aspects of life, including at work. And dress codes have become much more fluid as well.

Although many companies claim their dress code is “business casual”, you will see men in polos and women with open-toes shoes. This just adds to the confusion.

This is largely the result of the dot-com boom and silicon valley.

Successful tech companies which had no dress codes from the start carried that into their company culture as their growth exploded (think Google and Facebook).

This set a new expectation of dress codes for employees across all industries.

In order to understand how you should dress to your interview, it is first important to understand how employees dress for work.

Let’s break down common dress codes at professional settings from least strict to most strict.

Keep in mind we will go into more detail about utilizing these dress codes for interview outfits. For now, we will cover them broadly.

Casual

Casual Dress Code not for Interview outfits

Casual work attire is essentially the equivalent of having no dress code.

Think shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, blue jeans, hoodies, etc. As long as it isn’t too revealing or provocative, it’s fine.

This dress code can be often found in start-ups and tech companies. 

Especially ones that tend to attract younger employees. Think Silicon Valley and the like.

Check out this picture from the cafeteria of Slack, a company that develops instant messenger software for professional use.

Hoodies, sneakers, jeans, t-shirts.

This type of dress at work has become increasingly more common over the years.

But in general, casual dress still isn’t the “norm” across all industries.

Smart Casual

Smart Casual Dress Code for Interview Outfits

Although many companies claim to have a “business casual” dress code, they really implement what is considered a smart casual dress code.

For men, smart casual involves a button-down (short or long sleeve) or polo shirt. Sweaters with or without a button-down are options as well.

Pant options include chinos, white/black denim or dress pants. Shoes would be essentially anything besides sneakers and open-toed shoes.

Dress codes for women, universally, tend to be more lenient than for men.

For women, smart casual can include any dress or skirt that hit at least just above the knee. Tops can be anything that is not strappy or strapless. 

Pants options are similar to men (e.g. chinos, white/black denim or dress pants) but can be cropped, ankle-length, or full length.

Shoes can be anything with the exception of sneakers and flip flops. Even open-toed "dressy" sandals are fair game.

Distressed clothing and clothing with large logos is typically frowned upon in smart casual environments.

Smart casual is the most common employee dress code in most industries and companies.

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Business Casual

Business Casual Dress Code for Interview Outfits

Business casual is where it gets a bit more formal. 

Although it is not the typical day-to-day attire at most companies anymore, it is still common. It can be found day-to-day in places such as large law firms, investment banks, and other more formal industries.

It is also the dress code you will go with for the majority of interviews (more on that later).

For men, business casual is comprised of a suit jacket/sports coat, button down shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes. You could also wear loafers or ankle boots instead of dress shoes.

For women, there are more options. You can also choose to wear dress pants, button down blouse and blazer. Or you can leave the blazer behind.

Women also have the choice to wear a pencil skirt or A-line skirt, light knit sweaters, and dresses. Dresses should be fitted or A-line.

All dresses and skirts should be at least knee length and preferably paired with sheers or tights.

For women’s shoes the typical choices include heels, flats, loafers or booties.

Many companies with smart casual dress codes have C-suite management dress business casual.

So it is not uncommon to see a mix of smart casual and business casual within one office.

Business Professional

Business Professional Dress Code for Interview Outfits

Remember the images of men in the 1950s heading off to work?

I am sure you are familiar with the image.

Yea, these.

It’s how “white collars” used to dress to work.

These days, this type of dress is referred to as business professional.

For men, it consists of a suit, button down shirt, tie, and dress shoes. You can also throw in a pocket square and/or cuff links if that is your jam.

As always for women it is a bit more versatile than for men.

Women can also do a suit (pants and matching blazer), a button down shirt, and closed toe shoes (e.g. heels, flats, loafers, booties).

Or, instead of pants you can do a pencil skirt.

Or, instead of a suit with a blouse you can do a fitted professional dress with a blazer. Or just a fitted professional dress with long sleeves.

Yes, women have more options.

You can still incorporate color into business professional but be more selective. 

Try to avoid overly bright colors and prints in this dress code.


How to Decide What to Wear to an Interview

So now we understand what the common dress codes are in professional environments. 

How do we use dress codes to decide what to wear to an interview?

As you are preparing for your interview, you should be doing research on the company. This will inevitably lead you to information on the company culture, of which dress code is part of. 

You can get a sense of what dress would be acceptable for an interview based on how employees dress at the company.

And these days, with social media, it’s pretty easy to figure this out. 

Essentially every single company with at least one HR representative will be posting on LinkedIn. It’s a vehicle used to attract potential employees. 

And for you, it’s a valuable source of information.

Wondering how employees at Tesla dress?

Here’s a post of some Tesla employees from a LinkedIn post.

Pretty casual.

What about Google?

They posted a video about their technical services team with employee interviews.

 Lots of examples of Google employee dress code here. It's smart casual.

Keep in mind, for large companies the dress code can vary by location. Corporate offices will typically have a more formal dress code than a manufacturing facility.

And yes, you can find this information for start-ups the same way. It isn’t just big companies.

If you are unsure what the answer means (people use very strange words to describe dress codes sometimes), always follow up for clarification.

So how do you use the employee dress code to decide what to wear to an interview?

I recommend aiming to dress one dress code up from the employees for a job interview.

If employees are wearing chinos and button-downs (smart casual), you should opt for a business casual outfit.

If employees are wearing shorts and t-shirts (casual), smart casual would be appropriate for an interview.

Detailed recommendations for interview outfits in these dress codes are covered below.

Frankly, you want to look like you are there for an interview. Not that you are an employee.

It demonstrates the effort you are putting into the interview. That you are interested enough to go the extra mile in all aspects of your presentation.

And when in doubt, being overdressed is ALWAYS better than being under dressed.

Therefore, even if you see employees dressed in hoodies and t-shirts like at Slack, you shouldn’t dress like that for the interview.

You should go the smart-casual route. 

If you cannot find any examples of employee dress and are unable to decipher what to wear for your interview- ask.

Send a simple and short email to the recruiter or HR representative. 

Hello Jane,


I am very much looking forward to meeting the team on Friday. I wanted to reach out to ask what the typical dress code is for candidates?


Thanks so much,


Marie

In general, I don’t ever recommend dressing casual for an interview.

Remember, it isn't just about "looking" the part but also FEELING the part. And a slightly more formal look will make you feel more powerful an interview.

The rules do not change for virtual interviews.

You will want to dress the same for a virtual interview as you would for an in-person interview.

The impact the clothes have on your self-confidence and other people does not change whether you are in your home in front of a camera or at an office.

And yes, I mean dressing head to toe the same way for a virtual interview. Put on pants.

So now let's get into the juicy stuff! Interview outfit guidelines and recommendations for each dress code.


Modern Interview Outfits for Women

We broadly have covered each dress code and how to figure out which dress code applies to the company.

I have also outlined that you should dress one dress code above what employees are wearing

With this information, you should know which dress code to wear to your interview.

Now, let's get into specifics of what to wear to an interview for women in each dress code. 

Each section includes a "do" and "don't" list of guidelines for interview outfits in order to help you choose your outfit.

Based on this list, there are also multiple interview outfit examples provided in each dress code.

Remember, these are guidelines and examples.

At the end of the day the most important thing is to choose an outfit that makes you feel your best and looks professional

Even if that means going 2 dress codes up from employees (but don't go down dress codes from employees!).

Smart Casual Interview Outfits for Women

If your research has shown that employees at the company are wearing a casual dress code (e.g. shorts, t-shirts), a smart casual interview outfit would be an appropriate choice.

Smart casual is all about still looking "nice" but not too formal.

You have a lot of choices in this dress code. 

Smart Casual Interview Outfits for Women 

Do's and Don'ts

Do

  • Blouses with modest necklines
  • Sweaters
  • Cardigans
  • Blazers
  • Chinos or corduroys
  • White or black denim
  • Cropped pants
  • Skirts (knee length to mid-shin)
  • Dresses (knee-length or longer)
  • Open-toed sandals (flat or with a mid-heel)
  • Flats or loafers
  • Ankle or mid-calf boots (flat or any heel)
  • Simple jewelery
  • Thin belts

Don't

  • Blue jeans
  • Shorts
  • Overly skinny jeans
  • Athleisure
  • Distressed clothing
  • Flip Flops
  • Mini skirts
  • Bodycon dresses
  • Sleeveless tops (without a blazer/sweater)
  • Tank tops
  • Strapless tops or dresses
  • Large logos and words on clothing
  • Overly chunky belts or belts with oversized buckles

Smart Casual Interview Outfit #1

Clothing: flowy patterned blouse and cropped chinos

Shoes: loafers

Accessories: simple earrings, necklace and watch

I am a big fan of flowy silk or silk-like button down blouses. 

They are supremely comfortable, come in a variety of colors and patterns and really present a polished look. 

They work across ALL dress codes, so purchasing one or two is a fantastic investment.

Pair them with chinos or black denim and a pair of flats or loafers and you've got a fantastic smart casual outfit.

Smart Casual Interview Outfit #2

Clothing: flowy floral skirt with white button up blouse

Shoes: flats

Accessories: simple earrings and necklace

I wear skirts a lot to the office. Particularly flowy skirts.

Just like silk button down tops, they are incredibly comfortable but present a well-put together look.

If skirts are your thing, they are a perfect choice for a smart casual interview outfit. 

Choose whichever color or print is your personal style. 

You can certainly go for something more neutral and subdued if that makes you feel more confident.

Smart casual interview outfit #3

Clothing: black denim straight leg jeans, brown sweater

Shoes: black loafers with brown sole

Accessories: gold watch

If your interview is during cooler weather, you can opt for a sweater paired with black denim.

Try to choose pants that are straight leg rather than skinny or overly tight. And stay away from distressing.

Similarly, you want to wear a sweater that has a looser fit and isn't overly chunky.

Business Casual Interview Outfits for Women

For the vast majority of the time, business casual will be the preferred dress code route for an interview outfit.

That is because at most companies employees are dressing smart casual.

Personally, I'd even wear business casual to an interview where employees are dressing casually.

I'm a firm believer that it doesn't hurt to overdress, especially for an interview.

Business Casual Interview Outfits for Women

Do's and Don'ts

Do

  • Button down shirts or blouses (solids or patterns)
  • Flowy blouses with modest necklines
  • Tailored pants
  • Fitted knee-length dresses with sleeves (long or short)
  • Blazers
  • Light knitted tops under blazers
  • Pencil skirts (knee or mid-shin length)
  • A-line knee length skirts
  • Black tights (in winter) or nude sheers 
  • Closed-toe heels (no taller than ~3.5")
  • Flats or loafers
  • Booties (flat or thin heel)
  • Simple jewelry
  • Thin belts

Don't

  • Low cut necklines
  • Sleeveless tops (without a blazer)
  • Cropped pants
  • Full length or above-the-knee skirts
  • Maxi dresses
  • Chunky sweaters
  • Denim (any color)
  • Platform heels
  • Chunky heel boots
  • Mid-calf or knee high boots
  • Wedges
  • Anything on the "Don't" list in Smart Casual

Business Casual Interview outfit #1

Clothing: black pencil skirt and white button up blouse

Shoes: black kitten heels

Accessories: silver drop earrings

What I like about pencil skirts is they don't require the tailoring that dress pants do.

Usually, you can find a pencil skirt that fits great off the shelf.

Modern pencil skirts also often come in stretchy materials, providing comfort that dress pants often don't.

Business casual interview outfit #2

Clothing: black plaid tailored pants and black silk shirt

Shoes: ankle boots with small heel

Accessories: silver small hoop earrings

If you do prefer dress pants, make sure to get them tailored!

Great dress pants are NOT about how much you spend on the pant, but how good your tailor is.

In winter and fall, ankle boots are a great choice under dress pants. Especially if your feet are always freezing (like mine).

Business Casual interview outfit #3

Clothing: Belted a-line dress with floral skirt, black tights

Shoes: black mid-height heels

Accessories: silver stud earrings and watch

Dresses are also a great choice for interviews, and one many women don't think of. 

You don't need to buy one! You can rent a great interview dress at Rent the Runway. I talk more about this below.

If you are wearing a dress to an interview in cooler weather, I like to wear black tights. It provides extra warmth and coverage.

Business Casual interview outfit #4

Clothing: pants, turtleneck, blazer

Shoes: flats

Accessories: stud earrings

Another choice in cooler weather is a sweater under a blazer.

For a business casual interview outfit, I would not wear a sweater alone. 

But paired with a blazer it is a really polished (and warm!) look.

Business Professional Interview Outfits for Women

It's rare that you will need to go all-out for an interview and wear a business professional outfit.

That being said, if a business professional outfit is what makes you feel most confident then go for it!

Additionally, if you are interviewing at a more formal employers (e.g. large law firms, investment banks, etc.) business professional is the way to go.

The key to a great business professional look is to have the clothes tailored to have a perfect fit.

You can still wear color in business professional looks, but you will want to be more conservative with how you wear it. 

I recommend to stick to one "statement" color and keep the rest neutral.

For prints and patterns, try to go with classics such as stripes or polka dots.

Business Professional Interview Outfits for Women

Do's and Don'ts

Do

  • Button down shirts or blouses (solids or patterns)
  • Flowy blouses with modest necklines
  • Knitted tops under blazer
  • Tailored pants
  • Fitted knee-length dresses with sleeves
  • Fitted knee-length short-sleeve dress with blazer
  • Pencil skirts (knee or mid-shin length) with blazer
  • Black tights (in winter) or nude sheers (preferable) 
  • Closed-toe heels (no taller than ~3.5")
  • Loafers
  • Booties (flat or thin heel)
  • Simple jewelry
  • Thin belts

Don't 

  • Tops or short-sleeve dresses without blazers
  • A-line skirts (stick to pencil)
  • Overly loud combinations of colors (think: one statement color)
  • Distracting patterns
  • Skirts or dresses without sheers
  • Ballet flats
  • Anything on the "Don't" list in Smart Casual or Business Casual

Business professional interview outfit #1

Clothing: black pants and blazer with black dotted button-down blouse

Shoes: black pointed toe flats

Accessories: rose gold earrings

A neutral colored suit (e.g. black, grey, brown) with a "pop" of color or pattern underneath is a great choice to look professional but also show off some personal style.

Tailor your suit!

Also, remember how I recommended a button down flowy top in smart casual and mentioned how versatile they are across dress codes? Here's the proof!

Business Professional interview outfit #2

Clothing: green pencil skirt and matching blazer, black merino wool sweater, nude sheers

Shoes: black wedge heels

Accessories: gold drop necklace and stud earrings

Your suit doesn't have to be neutral!

Nor does it have to have pants!

A statement colored suit with a pencil skirt looks just as professional and polished.

If you are wearing a skirt for business professional, you should always wear sheers. Don't go bare-legged.

Notice how I paired with with a neutral sweater and shoes (black) to "tone down" the suit. And yes, you can definitely wear a sweater underneath your blazer for a business professional look. 

It's the upside of being a woman: looser rules in the dress codes.

Business Professional interview outfit #3

Clothing: grey suit with a black button down blouse

Shoes: black ankle boots

Accessories: silver drop earrings

As I mentioned, your suit does not have to be expensive.

This is an affordable suit option that, if tailored, will look fantastic.

This example is a neutral color palette if bold colors are not your thing. 

It's a classic, affordable interview outfit that you can't go wrong with.

Business Professional Interview Outfit #4

Clothing: long sleeve fitted dress with nude sheers

Shoes: nude heels

Accessories: simple gold earrings and necklace

The last example is how to wear a dress for a business professional interview outfit.

Again, it can still incorporate color as long as you keep the rest neutral. Don't pair your red dress with red shoes, it can be a bit much.

Fitted dresses are the most professional, in my opinion. So you will want to stick to a silhouette like the one above.

If your dress is short sleeved, make sure to pair it with a blazer.

Makeup for a Job Interview

I am not a beauty guru. And I won’t be giving you a tutorial on makeup for a job interview.

There are literally thousands of videos on YouTube for that.

But I do want to take a minute to address makeup for your job interview because it is part of your outfit.

Do you have to wear makeup for a job interview?

Absolutely not.

If you never wear any makeup and/or don’t own makeup there is no reason for you to be rushing down to Sephora to spend $500 on makeup for your interview.

If you are the type that wears makeup for special occasions or a bit day to day, then I would encourage you to do a light, natural look for your interview.

Makeup is a quick way to look just a bit more polished for your interview.

In professional and corporate environments, I don’t recommend wearing overly heavy or colorful makeup. 

It can be distracting and typically is not associated with professional attire. I recommend sticking to light to medium coverage and neutral colors on the eyes.

If red lipstick is your thing, you can certainly pull it off in an interview. Otherwise, stick to nude or pink colors on the lips.

To save you some time hunting around on YouTube, here is a great makeup look for your interview.


Modern Interview Outfits for Men

As I mentioned for the ladies, we broadly discussed dress codes and how to figure out which dress code applies to the company.

I have also outlined that you should dress one dress code above what employees are wearing

With this information, you should know which dress code to wear to your interview.

Now, let's get into specifics of what to wear to an interview for men in each dress code. 

Each section includes a "do" and "don't" list of guidelines for interview outfits in order to help you choose your outfit.

Based on this list, there are also multiple interview outfit examples provided in each dress code.

Remember, these are guidelines and examples.

At the end of the day the most important thing is to choose an outfit that makes you feel your best and looks professional.

Men's clothing and dress codes tends to have less options and versatility than women's.

But there is still plenty of room to express personal style, if that's your thing.

You can always also do classic pieces in neutral colors. 

Whatever makes you feel BEST.

Smart Casual Interview Outfits for Men

If you are interviewing at a company like Slack, a smart casual interview outfit is the way to go.

You'll want to look put-together but not overly formal.

Smart Casual Interview Outfits for Men

Do's and Don'ts

Do

  • Sweaters
  • Polos
  • Short sleeve button downs
  • Long sleeve button downs (you can roll the sleeves up onto forearms if it's your thing)
  • Sports coat
  • White or black denim
  • Chinos
  • Corduroy pants
  • Dress pants
  • Leather or suede dress shoes 
  • Ankle boots
  • Loafers
  • Colorful or fun print socks
  • Watch
  • Belt

Don't

  • Blue jeans
  • Shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Overly skinny or baggy jeans
  • Athleisure
  • Distressed clothing
  • Open toed shoes
  • T-shirts or sleeveless shirts
  • Large logos and words on clothing
  • Sneakers or gym shoes

Smart casual interview outfit #1

Clothing: crew neck sweater and black denim

Shoes: suede dress shoes

Accessories: watch

During fall or winter, a light sweater is a great choice for a smart casual interview outfit.

Pair it with black denim (which I think gives a great, not overly formal look) and suede shoes.

Make sure any pant you wear is not overly baggy or tight. 

You want a pant that is fitted through the thigh and straight leg below the knee.

Smart casual interview outfit #2

Clothing: short sleeve polo and chinos

Shoes: brown loafers

Accessories: none

In warmer weather, you can opt for a polo instead. 

Try to avoid white, as it will show every small piece of dirt you touch.

I also recommend to go for a slightly more silky and flowy material rather than the classic, heavy cotton. It just looks better.

A loafer is a great choice to pair with a polo.

Smart casual interview outfit #3

Clothing: short button down and chinos

Shoes: brown ankle suede boots

Accessories: watch

If polos are not your thing, another choice is a short sleeve button down. 

You can show some personal style here with a fun, but relatively subtle, pattern or color.

Pair it with an ankle boot and some chinos.

Business Casual Interview Outfits for Men

Business casual is the most common dress code for an interview outfit.

It's because at most companies employees are dressing smart casual.

As I mentioned above, I'd even wear business casual to an interview where employees are dressing casually.

It doesn't hurt to overdress, especially for an interview.

Business Casual Interview Outfits for Men

Do's and Don'ts

Do

  • Button down shirts (solid or patterned) 
  • Dress pants
  • Suit jacket
  • Mismatched but complementary colors on pants and jacket (e.g. navy and black)
  • Crew neck, turtle neck, or v-neck sweaters
  • Dress shoes
  • Loafers
  • Ankle boots
  • Colorful or fun print socks
  • Watch
  • Belt

Don't

  • Chunky sweaters
  • Denim (any color)
  • Chinos
  • Short sleeves
  • Corduroy pants
  • Anything on the "Don't" list in Smart Casual

*a tie and/or pocket square is optional and NOT required in business casual, but it doesn't hurt to add it

Business casual interview outfit #1

Clothing: mismatched but complementary jacket and pants, white button down

Shoes: leather dress shoes

Accessories: none

A complementary, but not matching, set of jacket and pants is a modern way to wear business casual.

If going this route, you will want to keep your button down a neutral, relatively solid color. 

Pair it with a pair of great leather dress shoes.

Business casual interview outfit #2

Clothing: black dress pants and grey jacket, button down

Shoes: leather dress shoes

Accessories: none

This is another example of a complementary, not matching set of jacket and pants but with a bit more color.

You'll want to keep the color in the jacket, with the pants neutral.

Business casual interview outfit #3

Clothing: black suit and turtleneck sweater

Shoes: black suede boots

Accessories: none

Classic never goes out of style. 

A black suit is an easy way to make a great first impression and feel confident in the process.

You can certainly pair it with a button down, but here I gave a different option. 

A colored sweater can be a fun way to show a bit more personal style, if that's your thing.

Business Professional Interview Outfits for Men

Business professional interview outfits are more rare, but can be found at formal employers such as large law firms and investment banks.

Just like for women, the key to a great business professional look is to have the clothes tailored to have a perfect fit.

Tailored clothing is even more important for men in business professional as there is less versatility both in the type of pieces and the materials.

Your suit needs to be tailored and your shirt should fit well and not be too baggy.

It's much more difficult for men to wear color in business professional outfits. You will mostly want to stick with black, grey, tan and shades of blue.

But one place where you can add color and prints is in your tie (and pocket square if you choose to wear one).

Business Professional Interview Outfits for Men

Do's and Don'ts

Do

  • Button down shirts (solid)
  • Tailored suit
  • Tie (solid or print)
  • Pocket square (optional)
  • Dress shoes
  • Watch
  • Cuff links
  • Solid, neutral socks
  • Belt

Don't

  • Mismatched suit and jacket
  • Sweaters
  • Patterned button down shirts
  • Loafers
  • Boots
  • Colorful or fun print socks
  • Anything on the "Don't" list in Business Casual

*a tie and/or pocket square is optional and NOT required in business casual, but it doesn't hurt to add it

Business Professional interview outfit #1

Clothing: grey suit and white button down

Shoes: dress shoes

Accessories: fun print tie, watch

A grey suit is a great choice for spring and summer.

It also is a great color if you want to do a color or fun print tie. The grey creates less contrast against color than a deep color like black.

Business Professional interview outfit #2

Clothing: black suit, light blue button down shirt

Shoes: brown dress shoes

Accessories: striped tie, silver cuff links

This is one of the most classic color palettes for men's suits. You really can't go wrong with it.

You could also swap the brown shoes for black. 

Business Professional interview outfit #3

Clothing: medium blue suit, light blue shirt

Shoes: black dress shoes

Accessories: solid navy tie

Medium-blue suits are also a great choice. They are still more classic than a grey, but not quite as traditional as a black suit.

It's a great in-between.


What Colors are OK to Wear to an Interview?

colors for interview outfits

Wearing almost any color is okay to an interview.

It's true many articles recommend to stick to a neutral color palette in order to avoid being "distracting" with your clothes. But I respectfully disagree.

Color and prints in clothing is not distracting if done correctly. In fact, it reflects personal style and character. It helps you stand out.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with standing out in an interview because you have great personal style. In fact, it's a good thing.

The interview outfits above provide a lot of examples of how you can incorporate color in a professional way.

Remember, it's all about what makes you feel confident.

If you are more confident in a neutral color palette, definitely go that direction.


Where to Find Interview Outfits

store for interview outfits

For smart casual interview outfits, you can likely use clothing you already have in your closet.

If you are newer to the professional world or are still developing your style, you may not have a business casual or business professional outfit hanging in your closet.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to break the bank in order to get a great interview outfit.

My entire professional career, I’ve always been known for great style in the office. And never wearing the same thing twice.

My secret?

I hardly ever buy business casual or business professional clothes.

I use Rent the Runway’s monthly membership to rent all of my work outfits.

I have been doing it for years and years. Back when Rent the Runway was known primarily for renting special occasion dresses.

But my secret is getting out.

Rent the Runway is FANTASTIC for women needing to dress business casual or business professional for work.

Unfortunately, there isn’t anything quite the same for men. 

But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on suits, jackets, and pants. Man or woman.

Why?

Because as I've mentioned before- FIT is much more important than the designer or material.

You can get an absolutely great suit at Zara for as low as $100-150. 

Then take it to a tailor. A custom-fit is what will make any suit look expensive. 

So what are some great places to buy an interview outfit? 

My recommendations for affordable interview outfits would be

  • Zara (my favorite for men and women)
  • H&M

For mid- and high- end brands, my recommendations are:

  • Theory (men and women)
  • L.K. Bennett (women’s dresses)
  • Ted Baker (men and women)
  • Equipment (the best women’s button-down shirts)
  • Brooks Brothers (men’s attire)
  • Cole Haan (shoes)
  • Everlane (men and women)

Additional Interview Outfit Tips

1. Develop your professional style

Style is important, whether you are going to an interview or just heading off to work. 

As we discussed above, what we wear has a huge impact on how you feel. That goes for the interview day as well as day-to-day.

Developing a professional style will allow you to carry more authority and feel more powerful.

It also has a lasting impression on people, not just from a first impression.

I definitely believe in dressing for the job you want to have, not the job you actually have. 

Do you want to lead the department or company one day?

Dress like it now.

I highly recommend Tan France’s Masterclass if you are looking to learn more about personal style.

Also, check out how to build a capsule wardrobe.

2. Prepare your outfit ahead of time

Just like everything else for the interview, you want to be well prepared ahead of time.

Make sure to dry clean or wash your outfit at least a few days before. Dry cleaning usually takes 3-4 days.

If you dry clean your outfit, hang it up to avoid wrinkles.

If you washed your outfit or are traveling then iron/steam your outfit the night before. Hang it up overnight.

This way it is wrinkle-free and ready to go in the morning.

If your leather shoes are well-loved, make sure to polish them a day or two before the interview.

You want to minimize what you have to do on the day of the interview. 

That way you can focus on getting to the interview on time and the interview itself.

3. If traveling, pack a spare outfit

If you are traveling for your interview, make sure you pack a spare interview outfit.

You never know what may happen. Maybe you accidentally rip the clothing putting it on. 

Or you notice it has a hole in it that you didn’t see before. Or you accidentally spill coffee on it in the morning after you’ve put it on.

You want to have back up options in case the unexpected happens.

And don’t check your bag. The last thing you want is to be running around before your interview trying to buy another outfit.

If you are running errands before your interview, I recommend taking a spare interview outfit with you.

Again, you may spill or rip something by accident.

Always be prepared.

Final Thoughts

That was a lot of information!

If you stuck around till the end you hopefully feel very knowledgeable on how to choose your interview outfit.

Remember, the most important thing about your interview outfit is

  • It makes you feel confident and powerful
  • It presents professionally to your interview team

The rest is guidelines and ideas to make the process of choosing an outfit easier.

Even more important than your interview outfit is that you are prepared for the interview itself. So make you follow these tips to do so.

Check out these other articles for your job search:

5 Tips to Prepare for an Interview (and get that job offer!)

The Job Interview Question You Never Want to Answer

How to Write an Interview Thank You Email

Detail Oriented People: Interview Question and Resume Tips

How to Answer “Walk Me Through Your Resume”

How to Reschedule an Interview (with Email Examples!)

Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Outfits for Men and Women

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