How To Dress For An Interview – Dos And Dont’s

Written by Pratima Ati

You might have heard this many times, and must be tired of hearing it. But I’ll say it one more time anyway.

“First impression is the best impression.”

First impressions are for real, and whether we like it or not, there will be some inference made from your dressing sense. Especially if it’s an interview you are attending. It is bound to happen, so, you better be good! After all, how else are you going to prove that you are passionate about the role you are taking up? Clumsy dressing, for sure, does not help. If you are getting interviewed for your dream job, you better make it look like it. And that’s why what not to wear to an interview is just as important as what to wear to an interview.

What To Wear To An Interview

  1. Moving Up The Corporate Ladder
  2. Your Big Move In The Fashion Industry
  3. Fancy Finance Job Or Investment Banker
  4. Cracking The Creative Role
  5. The Next Big Thing – Startups

Every industry has a culture, and so does an organization. More often than not, if you can tap into the pulse of the industry you are getting into, you’re sorted. Times have changed, and so has the dressing etiquette. Even the biggest of the tech giants are inching towards not-so-conservative clothing. Having said that, dressing for the interview is still a tricky process, and you are expected to be as professional as you can by still sticking to the industry pattern.

1. Moving Up The Corporate Ladder


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Are you a debutant in the big corporate world? Or, are you moving up the ladder? Either way, you should already know that corporate and client-facing roles are all about communication, affability, and your knowledge of the subject matter. It is also about the way you present yourself. And, that is why your attire will end up saying a lot about you even before you actually say anything.

Profile Examples – Media, advertising, sales, business development, aviation industry, consulting, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Suit up, because that’s as formal as you can get.
  • You can follow the latest trends and experiment with the shirt (top) you wear inside, but keep it to that.
  • Stick to black, gray, white, blue, and ivories.
  • Makeup and accessories should be minimal; sandals should be closed – preferably anything below 3-4”.
  • Pencil skirts or one piece dresses are other exciting options. However, be watchful of the length.
  • Cigarette and ankle length pants are other options that make you look stylish and on point.

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2. Your Big Move In The Fashion Industry


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The biggest myth around fashion jobs is that you’re expected to show up in edgy, over-the-top, and offbeat clothing just because you are in the industry. It does not work like that, and that is not what is expected from you when you attend the interview. Everyone has their own style, so just stay true to it and let it translate into who you are. Show them what you can bring to the table without actually saying anything. Yes, by all means, stay stylish and fashionable, but do not fake something, trying to fit in somewhere you do not belong. Your dress has nothing to do with your creativity or talent in the chosen domain.

Profile Examples – Design assistant, designer, stylist, personal shopper, fashion writer or editor, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Your dress should be specific to the industry you are aiming for. Keep the aesthetics of the brand in mind, but do not overdo it.
  • Keep your overall clothing subtle, stylish, and elegant.
  • Leave them with a sense of intrigue. Decking up in branded labels might not always be as cool as you think.
  • Let details like your accessories, scarves, bag, shoes, and fine jewelry grab attention.
  • And, since it is an interview – let it all be straightforward and formal anyway.

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3. Fancy Finance Job Or Investment Banker


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An industry that is not readily permeable. You need to be badass, tough, and smart but polite and on point. So, it’s a double-sided knife, and thus, your personality becomes imperative. That is something you should work on. So, at an interview, leaving an impression, and a good one at that, is crucial. You know what they say – fashion changes, but style remains. This industry is a clear indication of that. So, don’t experiment too much and hover in the safe zone.

Profile Examples – Investment banker, banker, portfolio manager, customer queries, financial advisor, consultant, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Stick to your regular black, gray or blue suits. Choose whatever you like, but pick a suit anyway.
  • It should not be all that difficult because you look at any job profile – everyone is at their formal best in this industry.
  • Some companies are fine with small printed dresses and suits, but those can wait till after you get the job.
  • It does not mean you have to wear the same old school interview pants. Wear whatever is the latest in the office wear segment, but again, it has to be professional. Can’t stress this enough.

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4. Cracking The Creative Role


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It is one of the most progressive industries, and you are judged differently here in comparison to the mainstream ones. Creativity holds the fort here, however, at an interview level, it is expected that you show up in presentable attire. It should be neither edgy nor sloppy. Keep these things in mind!

Profile Examples – Writer, director, photographer, art or creative director, editor, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Denim, corduroy, and other semi-formal pants are acceptable, but let them be dark and untorn.
  • Wear a shirt or a silk/chiffon/georgette top. Tuck it in if you can.
  • Pair them up with accessories, but keep them minimal.
  • One piece dresses are good, but don’t go too short. That’s never acceptable for an interview.
  • The company, brand or production house you are interviewing for might be pretty chilled out, but at the interview, being presentable and formal is important.

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5. The Next Big Thing – Startups


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One of the perks of working in a startup is not bothering too much about the dress code. And most of them are pretty chilled out with whatever you are wearing. One less (big) thing to worry about. All of them, including the founder, are more often than not right out of college, or at least it feels like that. So, you can’t be supremely formal or informal. Strike the right balance between smart, casual, and formal.

Profile Examples – Programmer, developer, coding, application development, web designer, analyst, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Go to their website – it will give you a hang of things.
  • Semi-formal or smart casuals usually work.
  • As long as the dress is not too short or revealing, you’re good to go.

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Most Importantly – What Not To Wear To An Interview

  1. Loud Colors
  2. Revealing Clothes
  3. Inappropriate Footwear
  4. Overly Casual
  5. Distressed Denims
  6. Animal Prints
  • Loud Colors


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Your choice of colors, be it formal, smart-casual or semi-formal, has to be subdued and subtle. Anything loud, gaudy or flashy is a big no-no.

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  • Revealing Clothes


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Listen up ladies! Plunging necklines, backless tops, skin hugging dresses, skirt above the knees, strapless clothes, see-throughs, etc., are things that are absolutely not ok for an interview. Again, that’s one thing common to any industry.

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  • Inappropriate Footwear


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Inappropriate footwear does not just mean flip-flops or crocs. Flashy and swanky stilettos or six-inch heels are considered just as bad. Running shoes or trainers also do not work, unless it is specific to the industry niche.

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  • Overly Casual


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Startups and other creative companies go the extra mile and brag about their casual work environment. Also, about how they are not particular about anything you wear to an interview. Even in that case, short shorts or hot pants are not an option. Keep it casual, but not overly casual.

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  • Distressed Denims


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Distressed/torn jeans, ripped pant edges or anything like these should be avoided.

[ Read: How To Make Ripped/Distressed Jeans- DIY ]

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  • Animal Prints


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It goes without saying, but animal prints of any kind, for that matter any large prints like florals, etc. are not considered formal. Even if you’re wearing a semi-formal suit, keep the shirt or top subtle and don’t venture into any prints, especially animal prints.

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Attending An Interview This Summer?


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Being weather-appropriate while dressing up professionally for an interview can sometimes be tricky. Usually, cotton, georgette, chiffon or silk fabrics that are smooth on the skin and are acceptable interview clothes. An airy sleeveless top with a skirt or trousers, or a pleated or linen dress are ideal for you. For obvious reasons, avoid dark colors and go with whites, ivories or pastels.

Outfit Ideas For A Winter Interview


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Winter interviews are the easiest because it’s all about layering. You just need to pay attention to how you are adding layers. Go for a turtle-neck T-shirt with a sleeveless cashmere sweater and a pair of fitted trousers or a pencil skirt with fleeced stockings. Finish it with leather boots that will keep you warm, stylish, and professional. Pop your look with accessories like a scarf, neck piece, waist belt or a watch. If you’re wearing a jacket, go with a long woolen coat. Your makeup should be minimal, boots clean, and hair neatly done.

What To Save For A Rainy Day (Literally) Interview?


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Interview attire on a rainy day is not that different from what you would wear on a moderately cold day. An umbrella or a raincoat is something you definitely need, so don’t shy away from walking into the office in a raincoat. Skirts or dresses might be a better option if you want to avoid your trousers getting wet.

Dress According To Your Body Type – Hacks That Help

Getting an interview call is the first big step, next is the preparation, and the last, but also the most important one, is to be presentable and put your best foot forward. It is a full circle, so you cannot afford to take any of these lightly. So, here’s a guide on how to dress for an interview according to your body type.

Dressing For An Interview – According To Your Body Type

  • Hourglass Figure

If you have an hourglass figure, well, lucky you! But, this is not the time for you to show off your curves. Instead, wear something that is sleek and cinches at the waist, like a belt that elevates your figure but is equally elegant.

  • Triangle Or Inverted Figure

Suiting up will help you strike a balance between the upper and lower body. Dark colors like black and navy blue will work to your advantage.

  • Round Body Type

This means that you’re proportionately round – from the shoulder to the hips and thighs. So, wear formal dresses or shirts with full sleeves so that it takes the attention away. If you’re wearing a skirt, avoid the pencil cut, and stick to the regular cuts. Same is the case with trousers too; the usual straight cuts will work better than cigarette pants.

Consider any body type – short, tall, thin or fat – what matters is your confidence. All said and done, you just have to remain calm, relax, and be comfortable in whatever it is that you’re wearing. As long as you are wearing professional and proper interview clothes, you have nothing to worry about.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you wear to an interview at a restaurant?

Nothing really changes here, it is still an interview but set up in a restaurant. You still have to dress professionally, show up on time, bring your resume, and do well. You can always check with the interviewer (if you know them) or the Human Resources team just to be sure. Even if they are not very particular, it’s best to stick to being professional.

How to dress up for an informal meeting for a prospective job?

If you’re invited to an informal meeting for coffee, lunch or dinner, you don’t have to worry too much about suiting up. I mean, you still have to be professional, but don’t make it awkward and obvious. Keep it casual, yet balanced. A pair of khaki pants, corduroys, chinos or dark denims with a shirt should be good. One piece dresses are also an option, depending on where the meeting is scheduled.

Wear something that is soothing and soft; loud colors might not be ideal for either lunch or dinner. The purpose of this is still formal, so keep it that way. A summer cotton dress, a linen shirt or cotton pants with silk shirt are other interesting outfit ideas.

Can you wear jeans to a job interview?

Unless it’s an informal meeting or for an industry/organization that is casual about its business attire, avoid casual clothes. If you’re sure that you can, let it be dark and non-distressed, and pair it with a decent top.

What do you wear to a retail job interview?

Retail jobs are usually customer facing, so it needs to be typical interview clothing.

Can you wear sandals to a job interview?

Yes – as long as they are closed. But, flip-flops are a big no-no.

What do you wear to a nursing job interview?

A gray, blue, or black suit or a conservative one piece dress is good.

Is a gray suit appropriate for an interview?

Yes, gray is a classy interview dress color. Gray, black, and blue will never fail you.

I’m a teenager and have an interview to attend, what should I wear?

Be it a campus job interview, internship or summer job – it is best to go in proper interview attire and be as professional as you can. It just shows that you are interested in taking up the role and you’re serious about working. Not just that, it’s also good practice. Remember, any of this does not mean you have to buy a new suit just for this unless you don’t have anything appropriate. Just use what you already have.

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